Assisted Reproductive Technology in Contemporary France: Discourse and Practices

Abstract: As the French Parliament is moving to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples in early 2013, adoption and access to assisted reproductive technology (ART) for gay and lesbian parents have become increasingly contentious in French public debates. Opponents fear the destruction of the “natural anthropological foundations” of gender and family. Yet, 2.5% of all children are born in France thanks to ART, and very little is known about different-sex couples’ experiences with ART in France today. Since the 1994 law of bioethics (revised in 2004 and 2011), ART is open only to married or unmarried heterosexual couples with their doctor’s approval. How do couples and doctors request and grant access to ART? How do they construct a new “normal” when their experience challenges biological representations of birth giving and parenthood? This presentation is based on a ten-month ethnographic research in a French hospital, observations of discussions between parents-to-be and doctors, and in-depth interviews with patients and medical staff.

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