The French are all for sex and all for family — so long as you're having sex to create one. Anything dealing with assisted reproduction makes a sizable portion of them uncomfortable, as the president's plans to legalize gay marriage have unexpectedly exposed. The debate over whether society and science are overreaching when it comes to parenthood has sent thousands into the streets, turned the bridges over the Seine into billboards and prompted charges that women's bodies will soon be for rent in a society that still has surprisingly deep conservative roots. President Francois Hollande's promise to legalize gay marriage was seen as relatively uncontroversial when it first came up as a campaign pledge. Then, as the debate began this week, his justice minister quietly issued an order to grant French birth certificates for children born to surrogates abroad. The news reopened a raw and unwelcome national debate on fertility treatments, surrogacy and adoption. Assisted reproduction is off-limits to all but heterosexual couples showing at least two years of companionship. Egg donation has been regulated nearly into non-existence, and surrogacy of any kind is punishable by a prison term.
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