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To be “alone in the driver’s seat”: MAR’s solo journey in France

Virginie Rozée, Hélène Malmanche

Research Framework: In 2021, medically assisted reproduction (MAR) was opened up to all women in France. The debates that preceded the revision of the law made a new family configuration visible: solo maternity. While studies in other countries have been looking at these maternities since the 2000s, they remain little documented in France.

Objectives: The aim is to analyze the profiles and trajectories of women who decide to become solo mothers using MAR.

Methodology: As part of the Outside-ART post-survey, semi-structured interviews were carried out in 2022 with 25 women living in France who said they had undergone or were in the process of undergoing solo MAR, either at home or abroad.

Results: As in previous studies, recourse to solo MAR often appears to be a second-intention choice for women closer to their forties. However, a new profile is emerging: that of younger women for whom this recourse is an immediate choice. Whether it’s a “plan A” or a “plan B”, these women want to emancipate themselves from the traditional family, which they see marked by inequality. Their plans are meticulously prepared, but they are a few grey areas. The MAR process for future solo mothers remains difficult, because they are regularly reminded of the gendered order of the family and parenthood.

Conclusion: In France, the MAR process, historically designed for heterosexual couples, is slowly being adapted to the specificities of solo journeys. Despite social and legal changes, the weight of gender norms governing the family remains strong, even within the medical community.

Contribution: This article contributes to a better understanding of the parental projects and MAR journeys of future solo mothers in the French context.