Rich Vaughn, IFLG: France Legalizes IVF for Lesbians, Single Women

France Legalizes IVF for Lesbians, Single Women

In a partial but powerful advance in the movement for reproductive freedom in France, French President Emmanuel Macron’s government last month drafted a new bioethics law that would legalize in vitro fertilization, or IVF, for single women and lesbians. In a society historically heavily influenced by Catholic conservativism, the law, if passed, would be a small first step toward legalizing other assisted reproductive technologies for more people.

Historically European governments have viewed assisted reproduction through a different lens than the United States has. In Europe, there traditionally has been no presumed legal right to procreate when the only way to do so requires technological assistance. Conservative activists have argued that children raised without fathers suffer and that relaxing the rules to allow more women to benefit from IVF will weaken the nation’s surrogacy ban. Regulation historically has focused on protecting the best interests of the child.

In contrast, in the United States, assisted reproduction is viewed through the lens of the right to procreate. In the United States, it is generally presumed that it is in the best of the interests of the child for intended parents to be guaranteed full parental authority; after all, any child born via ART comes into the world only with significant effort, sacrifice and expense on the part of intended parents.

Currently in France only married heterosexual couples who are infertile can legally undertake IVF and other kinds of assisted reproduction, with costs borne by the French national health system. After the country legalized same-sex marriage in 2013, which triggered massive protests by French Catholics, activists lobbied to allow lesbians to participate in IVF. As things stand now, single French women and lesbians who can afford to do so often travel to other Western countries, such as Britain, Belgium, Spain and Israel, where IVF and other fertility services are legally available. Those without the means to travel take other measures, such as purchasing donated sperm abroad or self-insemination, according to The Associated Press.

Eighteen of 28 European Union nations today allow fertility services for lesbians and single women, according to the AP report. (See our article on the European Court for Human Rights’ (ECHR) decisions regarding the citizenship rights of children born via surrogacy abroad and on the obstacles France imposes on intended parents who participate in surrogacy abroad.)

In addition to expanding those legally eligible for IVF to include single women and lesbian intended parents, the new law would provide for the French national health service to cover costs for up to four rounds of assisted reproduction per pregnancy, as reported by AP. The new law is projected to add 2,000 IVF cases annually to the current approximately 150,000 cases per year. The bill also would end France’s practice of strict sperm donor anonymity, providing for children conceived via donated sperm, once they reach age 18, to learn the donor’s identity.

The bill does nothing to change the country’s ban on surrogacy, nor does it offer gay men the legal option to become parents via IVF or other forms of ART.

But the proposed bioethics law is a beginning. As with other social movements, progress in the campaign for reproductive rights is made in small steps rather than giant leaps, usually with opposition at every step. Even now, 20 conservative groups are organizing for an October protest against expanding reproductive rights.

But progressive leaders say things have changed in France. According to a July Reuters report, a poll published by gay magazine Tetu “showed 61 percent of French people backed lifting the IVF ban for lesbian couples, up 15 points since 2013.” This small step of extending the right to IVF for single and lesbian intended parents, if signed into law, will inevitably lead to the next step on the road to the advancement of reproductive rights in Europe.



Rich Vaughn
Richard Vaughn

Attorney Rich Vaughn is founder and principal of International Fertility Law Group, one of the world’s largest and best-known law firms focused exclusively on assisted reproductive technology, or ART, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), surrogacy, sperm donation or egg donation. Rich is co-author of the book “Developing A Successful Assisted Reproduction Technology Law Practice,” American Bar Association Publishing, 2017.

Peiya Wang
Paralegal (律师助理)

Peiya Wang joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2015, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases and provides translation services for many of IFLG’s international clients. Peiya received her bachelor’s degree from Beijing Technologies and Business University, where she majored in Marketing. She moved to the United States in 2012 to attend Northeast University in Boston, Massachusetts, receiving a Master of Science degree in Global Studies and International Affairs in 2014. Peiya moved to Los Angeles in 2015 and received her paralegal certification from UCLA Extension. When away from the office, Peiya is a dragon boat paddler and a ballroom dancer, where she favors Rumbas and Cha-chas. She is fluent in Mandarin and English.

Luis Sosa

Luis R. Sosa joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2016, where he enjoys pursuing his passion for family and reproductive law. While working toward his bachelor’s degree at Florida International University, Luis worked as a paralegal and legal assistant for family law litigation firms in Miami and Washington, D.C. As a paralegal and case manager for IFLG, Luis, who is bilingual in English and Spanish, manages surrogacy, egg donation and other reproductive law cases. In addition to spending time with husband Randy and dog Marty, Luis enjoys being outdoors and appreciating the arts.

Toni Hughes

After receiving her B.S. in Business Management, Toni joined IFLG to pursue her dream of working in the legal field. As a Paralegal with over 10 years of experience in the assisted reproduction technology field, Toni is our Managing Paralegal, responsible for training and managing our paralegal staff. From drafting legal documents to assisting our clients with post-birth matters, Toni embraces the challenge of learning something new in this field each day. Besides spending time with her son, Jordan, Toni enjoys exploring new things, cooking, spending time with family and friends, and serving as a Youth Advisor for “Next Generation.”

Miesha Cowart
Financial Coordinator

Miesha Cowart joined IFLG as a financial specialist in 2014 following a successful career in development and business finance. Miesha previously worked for 10 years in the construction industry as a controller and for 13 years as Development Coordinator for the non-profit U.S. Fund for UNICEF. In her free time, Miesha works with “Next Generation” at her church. “They are my heartbeats!” she says of the youth in her community.


Kim has over 25 years of experience in the legal field and has worked exclusively in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 1999. Kim is a senior case manager of surrogacy and egg donation cases, and is also responsible for managing parental establishment cases and interacting with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorneys across the country. With three children of her own, Kim understands the importance of family and finds working in this area of law a rewarding experience.

Rich Vaughn

Attorney Rich Vaughn combined his personal passion as a father of twin boys born via assisted reproductive technology (ART) with more than 20 years of experience in business and technology law to build International Fertility Law Group. Today IFLG is one of the most successful and best-known law firms in the world focused exclusively on fertility law, helping thousands of intended parents through empathetic listening, compassionate guidance, and unmatched legal expertise. As an advocate for reproductive freedom, Rich also contributes his knowledge and time to improving the understanding and practice of ART law, most recently as a founder of and speaker at the first Cambridge University International Surrogacy Symposium held in June 2019, as immediate past chair of the American Bar Association ART Committee, and as a popular presenter to law schools, faculty and advocacy organizations all over the world.

Elizabeth Tamayo

Elizabeth received her Bachelors of Science degree in Criminal Justice from California State University of Los Angeles. Shortly after graduating, she continued her education at the University of California, Los Angeles where she obtained her Paralegal certificate. Elizabeth is fluent in Spanish and has been in the legal field since 2009. She is excited to be a part of the IFLG Team helping families realize their dreams.

Sunny Chien

Sunny joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2017, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s international clients. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from California State University of Los Angeles, where she graduated cum laude. Sunny is bilingual in English and Mandarin and has extensive experience as a legal assistant and paralegal at Los Angeles-area law firms. She is excited to be part of the IFLG team. In her spare time, Sunny enjoys spending time with her family and their dog, going to the beach, cooking, and being outdoors.

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Molly O'Brien

Fertility law attorney Molly O’Brien began working in the field of assisted reproduction technology (ART) in 2005, at an egg donation agency and a surrogacy agency where she became familiar with all aspects of in-vitro fertilization, egg donation and the financial aspects of surrogacy. Since becoming an attorney in 2011, Molly has drafted and negotiated surrogacy, egg donation, sperm donation embryo donation agreements for hundreds of her clients all over the world.