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Egg freezing and reproductive freedom

This article looks at egg freezing and reproductive freedom, including the rights and harms to consider. Let's explore.

Although egg freezing is prone to false advertising, and there might be reasons to be concerned about the introduction of egg freezing as an incentive in the workplace, women also have the right to make their own decisions about their reproductive lives.

Imogen Goold is an Australian legal scholar and academic based at the University of Oxford. Here we meet up with her at St Anne’s College, Oxford, to ask her about the role of rights and harms when it comes to social egg freezing.

Rights and harms with egg freezing

At the outset, Imogen Goold lays out four options for how society and the law could tackle egg freezing:

1 – Egg freezing could be illegal.

2 – The state could ignore the practice, with no or very minimal regulation.

3 – Access could be regulated, though open for all if they comply with certain requirements.

4 – Access could be restricted to certain parties or to women in certain circumstances, as is done currently with preimplantation genetic diagnosis (PGD), a technology discussed in more detail in Week 5.

The basis of Imogen’s thinking in this area is her commitment to reproductive autonomy. In this view, part of respecting a person means respecting the choices they make.

A protective dimension

However, the law also has a protective dimension. In the case of companies offering egg freezing, there might be scope for the law to address some workplace practices that might result in exploitative situations. And so we need to balance the potential impact of rights and harms, in this case.

Imogen’s view is that if there is pressure on women, then there might be grounds to restrict the practice of companies offering egg freezing. Imogen makes the case that the woman who is considering using this technology is usually best placed to make her own decisions.

Her view is that we should be careful not to undermine women and the choices they make. As long as consent is freely given – and fully informed – we should trust women to make the choices that are best for them.

If you’d like to learn more about making babies in the 21st Century, check out the full online course, from UCL, below.

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