Demand creates delays for single, lesbian women under French fertility law reforms

This past summer we celebrated France’s hard-fought legalization of in vitro fertilization (IVF) and other types of assisted reproductive technology for single women and lesbian couples. Pent-up demand, which has far exceeded government projections, quickly overwhelmed providers of fertility services, resulting in months-long wait times. Many women have resorted to traveling to other countries for services.

We here at IFLG have followed for several years the extended efforts to reform France’s reproductive laws. Previously, under French law, fertility treatments such as IVF, egg-freezing or administration of fertility drugs were available only to heterosexual couples who had been married or had cohabited for at least two years.

France’s 2-Year Fight for Reproductive Law Reform

French President Emmanuel Macron campaigned on a promise to extend those services to single women and lesbians, and in July 2019 his government introduced a new bioethics law that would legalize in vitro fertilization, or IVF, for single women and lesbians—an incomplete but significant step toward equal reproductive rights. The measure drew immediate fire from conservative religious and political forces, and the fight continued through the next two years of the Macron administration.

The reform bill passed the French lower house in October 2019, and was approved by the French Senate in January 2020, but not before excluding single women and lesbians from receiving national health service coverage for assisted reproductive benefits, provided free to heterosexual women under age 43. As we reported then, “Senators based their opposition to the public funding on the fact that heterosexual couples are covered for fertility services due to a medical condition.”

Then, in February 2021, the French Senate voted to prohibit IVF and other reproductive services entirely for single women and lesbians, sending the bill back for more debate. Finally, in July 2021, the French Parliament passed the law, granting single women and lesbian women the same rights to access and coverage as heterosexual and coupled women. At long last, the law took effect in September 2021.

Apparently, a lot of women had been waiting.

Demand for fertility services outpaces French providers

As of November 2021, 2,750 single women or lesbian couples had applied for reproductive health services, a sudden tripling of demand, overwhelming the reproductive health care system, as reported by French public radio station RFI. French hospitals and clinics reported a two-month surge of patients that exceeded what they normally got in an entire year. Some providers aren’t answering the phones or taking appointments. Many women, frustrated by the lengthy waits, have resorted to going to Spain or Belgium and paying for the services themselves. As is the case in much of the pandemic-era world, French hospitals are understaffed, with biologists, gynecologists and psychologists in particularly short supply.

In October 2021, health minister Olivier Véran appropriated an extra 8 million euros for fertility clinic staffing and equipment. But some activists say it’s too little, too late, and that the government should have foreseen the demand for services.

Impacted by COVID pandemic shutdowns, many countries are seeing shortages of sperm donors that have created bottlenecks for services. So far French providers say they have plenty of sperm—but that could change in the near future. France prohibits the importation of sperm from other countries, and its Biomedecine Agency reports a decline in donations since 2018, even as the number of egg donors has grown. But under the new law, as of September 2022, sperm and egg donation in France will no longer be anonymous, and children conceived using donated genetics, once they reach adulthood, will be able to identify their donors. Some experts feel this loss of anonymity will have a chilling effect, as we reported last year, particularly for sperm donors.

France takes a step toward reproductive equality as U.S. Supreme Court considers a step back

The tremendous outpouring of demand for assisted reproduction services for single women and lesbian couples is clear evidence that French women wanted and needed this law. Even though it was an uphill battle to get this far, and despite the painful struggle to ramp up services to meet demand, the popularity of this limited reform in health policy means that more changes are likely to follow. This new law does nothing to make it easier for single men and gay couples in France who want to become biological parents, and surrogacy remains illegal there. But success breeds success. Once the French health system works out the kinks, the happy stories of women fulfilling their dreams of parenthood, the images of new families created through this miraculous technology, all will have an impact on public opinion, on lawmakers and on the courts.

Even as our own country teeters on the brink of an unprecedented roll-back of human rights, as the U.S. Supreme Court appears to consider stripping American women of their right to control over their own bodies, France’s recent progress toward reproductive equality is heartening. Here’s hoping France’s fierce battle for reproductive rights will remind us in the U.S. of just how much we stand to lose and how important it is to continue the fight.




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 moved to the United States in 2012 to attend Northeastern 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, received her paralegal certification from UCLA Extension, and obtained her second Master of Science degree in Legal Studies from Loyola Law School. Peiya relocated back to her hometown, Beijing, China in 2019 and works from IFLG’s Beijing office. 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 which he received in 2013, 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. Luis has worked for IFLG in both Los Angeles as well as San Francisco, and is currently based in Dallas, Texas. 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.”


Kim has over 30 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 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.

Los Angeles

5757 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 645

Los Angeles, CA 90036

Phone:  +1 323 331 9343

Email:  info@iflg.net

Website:  www.iflg.net

New York

501 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1900

New York, NY 10017

Phone:  +1 844 400 2016

Email:  info@iflg.net

Website:  www.iflg.net

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.

Phoebe Sadler

Fertility law attorney Phoebe Sadler has a background in family law and has been practicing exclusively in the area of assisted reproduction technology (ART) law since 2018.

Rubina Aslanyan

Rubina has an extensive background in the legal field as a paralegal in Family Law and has worked in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 2012. Her area of focus is in managing and assisting clients with surrogacy, egg donation, and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s domestic and international clients. During her spare time, Rubina enjoys spending time with her family and dog Bella, traveling and cooking.

Alexander Espinoza
Legal Assistant

Alexander joined IFLG as a legal assistant in 2019, where he manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases. Alex is bilingual in English and Spanish and has been in the legal field for 23 years. Alex is excited to join the IFLG team and pursuing his will to help others in the reproductive law process. In his spare time he loves spending time with his family and friends, being outdoors, road trips, loves music and dancing.

Cara Stecker
Senior Paralegal

After receiving her paralegal certificate in 2005, Cara began working in assisted reproductive law. During the fifteen years Cara has worked in this field, she has gained a wide range of experience and knowledge that she uses to help better assist clients and those involved in the assisted reproductive journey. Cara’s primary roles involve managing parental establishment matters and coordination with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorney network, drafting contracts and parental establishment court documents and providing support to other team members. Cara finds great joy in being a small part of a team of caring people who help others achieve their dream of having a family. In her spare time, Cara enjoys spending time with her husband and three children, watching her children play the sports they love, and she enjoys, running, cycling and exploring the outdoors in the sun.

Stephanie Kimble

Stephanie received her BS in History and Political Thought from Concordia University Irvine in 2015 and her Paralegal Certificate from University of San Diego later that same year. She has been working as a Paralegal since 2016 in Family and Reproductive Law. She is excited to be part of International Fertility Law Group working on managing Surrogacy, Egg donation and Parental Establishment Cases.

Trish Pittman
Assistant Financial Coordinator

With more than 20 years of experience in the field of accounting, Trish joined the IFLG team in 2019 as Assistant Financial Coordinator. Her client-facing focus at IFLG is to assist with all client trust accounting. Trish is the mother of two daughters and enjoys spending time teaching and learning new things from them. In her free time, she loves long walks in the park and reading suspense and mystery novels.

Katie Deaquino
Senior Paralegal

Katie is a Senior Paralegal with IFLG and has dedicated over sixteen years to the areas of surrogacy and reproductive law. She received her Paralegal Certificate from Coastline Community College and has worked with some of the top law firms in the assisted reproduction community. Katie is also a commissioned Notary Public. With IFLG, Katie manages Surrogacy, Egg Donation, and Parental Establishment cases and provides support to other IFLG team members. Katie truly enjoys helping others build their families through assisted reproduction and is thankful she has had the rewarding experience of assisting IFLG clients. Katie often spends her free time with her Husband, four young children and her bulldog “Bella”.

Elsa Jimenez
Legal Assistant

Elsa joined IFLG as a Legal Assistant in 2019, bringing more than 35 years of experience working in the legal profession (concentrating in tort and litigation matters). At IFLG she assists surrogates with their surrogacy and parental matters. The oldest of five siblings, born and raised in East Los Angeles to Mexican immigrant parents, Elsa loves “seeing the beauty of families forming” through assisted reproductive technology. She and her husband Carlos have four children and one grandson. Elsa enjoys jazz and ’80s music, being outdoors in nature, collecting teacups and tea pots, and spending time with her close-knit family.