Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Why has Singapore banned social egg freezing ?

I always thought of Singapore as being an advanced country which offered high quality medical care to its citizens ( they offer free IVF treatment cycles to their citizens) . This is why I was dismayed to learn that they have banned social egg freezing.

Egg freezing is an advance which allows young women to postpone childbearing until they've found the right partner ; or decided that they are ready to have a baby . This is a big boon for young professional women who want to pursue a career. It ensures that biology is not destiny - and that these women can have their cake and eat it too ( just like men can !) It's usually only well-informed successful women who use this option. They know their own mind and freeze their eggs because they are responsible and are thinking well into the future.

The  Singapore government has banned social egg freezing because they are worried that the Singapore population is declining ( this is the reason they provide free IVF treatments , to ensure that couples will have more kids ) ! Their worry is that if they allow the option of egg freezing , then women will postpone childbearing even further ; and that their population will keep on dropping .

This is a typical bureaucratic approach . I am sure most of these decision makers are older men ! This step takes away a woman's reproductive autonomy by saying - Sorry , we are not going to allow you to do this , even though you want to and are willing to pay for this, because we are worried about the social consequences of your personal actions. It’s very easy for a bureaucrat to say no – but is this decision in the citizen’s best interests ? These are not irresponsible flighty young women ! They are responsible , well-informed, educated , farsighted professionals who are making decisions to maximize their own personal best interest. And isn't that what democracy should actually allow women to do ?

One of the arguments which Singapore fertility specialists have used to justify banning egg freezing is that older women have more obstetric complications. Yes , that's true – but that doesn't mean that you should not allow them to explore their choices . This is wrong on multiple grounds . For one, it smacks of gender bias. It’s perfectly okay for an older man to have babies, but this is not acceptable for an older woman ! This is very unfair , especially when she has the technology to ensure that she can freeze her eggs , so that her chances of having a healthy baby remain extremely good , no matter what her calendar age is .

The fact of the matter is that women have many more opportunities today than they did in the past - and their life expectancy has also improved dramatically. Why should we use yardsticks which were developed many years ago for this current generation of women ?

Using this kind of logic , we should be telling all these women to have babies at 20 when their fertility is optimal, rather than telling them to do IVF at the age of 35 ! I understand the concern that this offering this option may cause the birth rate to go down, but in real life, the number of women who will actually pursue the egg freezing option ( which is expensive !) is so small, that it’s likely to have a miniscule impact on society as a whole.

And if bureaucrats really want to reverse the dropping fertility rate, they should logically ban birth control for Singapore women , so that they will be forced to have babies – this will ensure that the Singapore population will continue to grow !

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous7:37 PM

    Singapore doesn't offer free IVF treatment. They only subsidise 3 cycles for women below 40 years old. First time 75%, second time 50% and third time 25%. :/


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