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French lesbians take ‘baby Thalys’ to Belgium
As France braces itself for a weekend of mass protests against gay marriage and adoption, Belgium has become a haven for French lesbians, who flock there in their thousands to conceive babies they are denied at home. About 2,000 babies conceived in Belgium through artificial insemination by donor are thought to be born each year to French lesbian couples, who are not eligible to undergo the procedure in France. “We have seen a sharp increase in demand over the past three years. The word is getting around in France; our patients are passing the message along,” said Professor Michel Dubois at the University Hospital of Liège. The children conceived in this way even have a nickname – ‘Thalys babies’ – after the high-speed train service between Brussels and Paris on which their mothers shuttle back and forth, sometimes for years, in their quest to become parents. At the largest hospital in Brussels, the Erasmus University Hospital, demand is such that it allows only two days a year for patients to phone and arrange consultations. “In just an hour and a half, all the appointments available for the next six months are taken. That causes a lot of frustration but there is nothing we can do about it,” said Anne Delbaere of the hospital’s fertility clinic. Plans by France’s Socialist government to extend marriage and adoption rights to gay couples have proved deeply divisive, igniting fierce protests from opponents including Catholic and Muslim leaders, with a mass rally planned in Paris for Sunday.