On June 10, 2021, the French National Assembly approved at third reading the consideration of the bioethics bill, of which one of the emblematic measures is the extension of assisted reproduction to all women. The text should return to the Senate on June 24, and could be adopted in July, in the middle of the summer.
“The diversity of the models of the French family is growing,” said the Minister of Health and provocateur Olivier Véran at the opening of the third reading of the draft revision of the bioethics law.
If the very media-driven minister wants to make believe that the text brought to the consideration of the deputies is “the sign of a country which once more looks to the future with confidence,” outside the Chamber, demonstrators protest: “Fatherhood is not an option and motherhood is not a benefit,” can be read on the banners.
The debate is becoming a marathon, as the opposition has tabled more than 1,500 amendments that will have to be considered in a scheduled legislative time of 12 hours and 30 minutes. No more no less.
Professor Jean-Louis Touraine, LREM [the Republic on the March] deputy and co-writer of the bill, immediately warns: opponents of the text are “traditionalists.” A conflation that says a lot about the ideology behind the ongoing revision.
While the extension of medically assisted procreation (PMA) to all women occupies most of the debate, other provisions, which passed in the second plan, will have serious and multiple effects.
In this regard, an Ifop [French Institute of Public Opinion] survey commissioned by Alliance Vita highlights the ignorance of the French on the content of the text examined by the deputies: only a quarter of the people questioned are aware of the concrete consequences of assisted reproduction for all, such as the fact that “the bill would authorize the procreation of children without any biological link with their parents via the double donation of gametes.”
When it comes to the embryo, the lack of information is even more pronounced. Thus, only 9% of those polled indicate that they know that the law will allow genetic modifications to be made to embryos. Worse, only 7% of them have heard that the project provides for the manufacture of animal-human chimeras.
This ignorance makes it possible to understand why 67% of French people say they approve the current bioethics bill reduced to the incantatory slogan of “PMA for all.”
Thus, on June 10, 2021, the deputies adopted the bioethics bill, in public session, by 84 votes to 43.
On the side of the French Bishops Conference (CEF), it is the minimum service that prevails, a sign of an episcopate unable to speak about social issues with a united and strong voice: the day before the vote, the Permanent Council of the CEF confined itself to expressing “its deep concern,” deploring that the “basis of French-style bioethics ... is being definitively erased.”
One could search in vain for the words “God,” “faith,” “Christ,” or “natural law”: the loss of moral benchmarks even among bishops is shameful in the land of Bossuet and Cardinal Pie.
After the review at the Palais-Bourbon, it will be up to the senators to give their opinion on June 24. Then the National Assembly will ultimately have the last word. The final vote could take place in July, during the summer vacation of the French, who - this year more than others, because of deconfinement - will feel they have other things to worry about.
In the aftermath of the predictable vote for a deadly law with incalculable consequences, the French are likely to have a difficult awakening.