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French lesbians
spark Belgium baby boom

French lesbians
spark Belgium baby boom

Denied artificial insemination in their native country, many French lesbians have been crossing the border to Belgium in search of medical procedures to get pregnant, Agence France-Presse reports. The trend is creating a new sort of baby boom at Belgian fertility clinics. "In Belgium, we were welcomed without any judgment," said Marie-Pierre Micoud, 41, a marketing director, and her partner, Nathalie Bassac, 43, a midwife, who conceived three boys by artificial insemination. "More and more women are making the trip from Paris to Brussels to have children through artificial insemination by an anonymous donor," said Franck Tanguy, who works with an association of homosexual parents and prospective parents.

Last year, 72% of the patients for insemination from sperm donors came from France, and the majority of them were lesbian, according to Dr. Anne Delbaere, head of the fertility clinic at Erasme Hospital in the Belgian capital. Since the clinic opened some 15 years ago, she said it has never rejected the requests of lesbians and single women, but it may not be able to continue to meet the demand from the influx of French patients. "We do not have sufficient sperm donations in reserve to meet all the requests" for insemination, Delbaere said at a recent conference on gay parenting in Paris.

Line and Magali, two teachers in the Paris region, have a lot of praise for the "moral support" they received from the Belgian hospital as Line went through 18 inseminations in three years before conceiving a daughter. The rush of French lesbians to Belgian clinics has increased even more over the past three years. "We had to wait six months for our first interview," Micoud said, adding that now the wait is "nearly two years."

Delbaere said her Belgian clinic has been forced to limit appointments, suggesting that "it is perhaps time to change attitudes in France." Since the French bioethical law of 1994, medical help for procreation is reserved for heterosexual couples who are married or who have been together for more than two years. Belgium, however, where same-sex marriage is legal, has not passed legislation on this issue. The specialized clinics there decide on what criteria will be used for access to medical procedures for procreation.

For more than 20 years, many Belgian hospitals have adapted to meeting the French demand, according to Mathieu Peycere and Martine Gross in their book Starting a Homo-parental family. The authors write that the hospitals have a procedure to verify through interviews with psychologists that the woman is clear about her decision and that the child will be raised in a stable environment.

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