Single and lesbian women could soon be given access to fertility treatments but there is strong opposition from conservatives and the Catholic church.
Single and lesbian women could soon be given access to fertility treatments including IVF after lawmakers in France's lower house of parliament, the National Assembly, approved a controversial bioethics bill
The measure, which was launched by French President Emmanuel Macron's party, passed by 55 votes to 17.
But Catholic church and several conservative groups have shown staunch opposition against the bill which still needs to be approved by the upper house of parliament, the Senate.
Fertility treatments are currently only available to heterosexual couples.
LGBT rights organisations overjoyed
The Association of Gay and Lesbian Parents and Future Parents welcomed the news saying it was long overdue. Dominique Boren, deputy chairman of the association told Euronews: "It's a big joy, it's a big success. We have been looking forward to having this new law for at least six years so it is quite an achievement. "
He added: "Many of my friends had to go abroad and still have to go abroad to either Belgium or Spain. In a way, the law will provide quite a relief in terms of cost but not only in terms of cost. It is a question of equality and being certain that they can benefit from the French medical system as any other woman."
However, the organisation is still unhappy that gay men will remain banned from using a surrogate mother to conceive a child using IVF.
Conservative groups dismayed
Around 20 conservative and religious groups vehemently oppose the plans and have organised a protest in Paris on October 6 under the banner "Liberty, Equality, Paternity" a riff on the French national motto.
The Protest for All said children born to single women or lesbian couples will be "deprived of a father" which will "weaken the family fabric and therefore the whole of society".
Pascale Moriniere, President of the Catholic Families Association, said "the whole definition of a family is changing. Even though father supplies the sperm he is now eliminated from the whole process of bringing a child into the world."
France mostly supportive
Sixty-five percent of people agree with the proposed law according to a BVA poll in April, a ten percentage point increase from five years ago.
France is one of ten EU countries which doesn't allow IVF for single or lesbian women. Seven other nations allow it only for single women whilst a further ten allow fertility treatments for both.
If approved the treatments would be paid for by the French healthcare system for all women under 43. Children conceived with donated sperm would also be able to find out the donor’s identity once they turn 18.
Health Minister Agnès Buzyn said the treatments would be available to an extra 2,000 women per year.