Freezing Eggs, Creating False Peace and Social Stratification

December 17, 2019 The Topic: Freezing Eggs, Creating False Peace and Social StratificationThe News Story: The Unexpected Freedom That Comes With Freezing Your EggsThe New Research: Freezing Eggs, Indulging in Utopian FantasiesThe News Story: The Unexpected Freedom That Comes With Freezing Your Eggs A recent New York Times story on the increasingly popular trend of egg-freezing argues that even though the technology has its limitations, it offers women the peace of mind they need to pursue motherhood at a more relaxed pace. The story mentions—briefly—that egg-freezing is not the “insurance policy” against infertility that many women seem to think it is. “Compared with I.V.F.,” the story reports, “the science of egg-freezing is relatively new and not particularly reliable.” And studies have also found that most of the eggs frozen are never thawed. “In these cases, the eggs represent a contingency plan these women haven’t had to use.” Nonetheless, “Making the decision to freeze eggs can help women manage anxieties—particularly around the demands of biology and time.” The story then goes on to quote several women who chose to freeze their eggs, and then felt the freedom to pursue relationships in a more natural manner. “It’s like I’m 30 again,” one 37-year-old woman said of her decision. “It’s like I was given an additional seven years to date to try to find the right person.” What the story fails to mention is that IVF and other forms of egg implantation and fertility treatments—presumably the route these women would need to go should they decide at some point to seek to become pregnant—are in fact very often unsuccessful. And that success rate drops most precipitously for women in their late 30s and early 40s. Another reason we should pause before lauding the miracle of egg-freezing? Researchers argue that it may very well increase social stratification, rather than lead to the broad equality that big fertility claims. (Source: Natalie Lampert, “The Unexpected Freedom That Comes With Freezing Your Eggs,” New York Times, Dec. 11, 2019.) The New Research: Freezing Eggs, Indulging in Utopian Fantasies A growing number of women in wealthy countries believe that medical technology will allow them to fulfill their career ambitions while postponing childbirth. The latest technology inspiring hope is that of freezing eggs. This technology, so its advocates assert, allows young women to freeze their eggs while still fertile, so freeing them to complete their education and get well-launched in their careers before bearing children. But in a recently published commentary, legal scholars from the University of Minnesota and George Washington University voice serious doubts as to whether this new technology will deliver the hoped-for benefits, while also expressing deep concerns about its social effects even if it does deliver some of those benefits.  W
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