But was this a limited victory which won the battle but lost the war? When choice can come at the expense of the best interests of children, and when the debate has so centred around the optics of women’s empowerment that it has rarely gone into the substance of the issues raised by egg-freezing, can our society really say that this was thoroughly debated?
Consider the following arguments:
- Should there be a legal loophole for single motherhood and overseas surrogacy?
- The possible pitfalls of Company Sponsored Egg Freezing in Singapore
- What to do with unused and unclaimed eggs?
- Disclosure of the financial interests of fertility doctors, and misunderstandings around the process and success rates for older women seeking egg freezing
- Is social egg freezing for single women permissible in Islam?
- Social Egg Freezing: Ethical and Social Issues
Each piece contains important considerations and social ramifications worth debate. Apart from the occasional cautionary thought piece by a few select individuals, there has been scant balance in the mainstream conversation around Egg Freezing. The discourse around egg freezing at times sounded like the following exchange:
Let women freeze their eggs so they can have children later in life.
This may encourage late childbearing, which may not be the best for children.
Don’t regulate women’s bodies. Our eggs, our choice. No Eggs, no opinion.
Opposition or caution quickly cast dissenters as anti-women. In a climate of emancipation, this tactical othering of dissenters as ‘anti-choice misogynists’ by the pro-woman camp also appealed to the spirit of fraternity and unified those who likewise saw themselves as pro-women.
The irony of all this of course is that with pro-women rhetoric comes a corresponding dose of anti-patriarchal sentiment.
For example, a screenshot of a Yahoo News report made its rounds on social media, where they quote the National Council of churches calling the social egg freezing “a profoundly selfish decision”. Never mind that it was one of six reasons given. It was most likely to rile people up, and any journalist looking for clicks would have known that.
Rile people up it did. One influencer went as far as to screenshot the leaders on the Council – all men – to make a popular but weak argument, that men shouldn’t have a say in when women want to have kids.
Silencing men (in an act where their participation is also required) somehow gets a free pass now that women’s rights are taking centre stage in the national conversation.
Establishing an enemy is excellent for unity – anyone well-versed in politics knows this. Yet with the emotional appeal of such rhetoric comes polarisation as well. This affects the ability to have uncomfortable but necessary conversations because any objection is simply seen as ‘against us’ and should be rejected.
In the meantime, the egg freezing industry is all too happy to cash in on these primal emotions and fears. Yet, is this emotionalism and defensiveness simultaneously the movement’s weakness when it downplays egg freezing’s drawbacks in service of a movement built on an emancipatory and empowerment ethos?
Other pressing questions remain largely un-interrogated. For instance, do the interests of granting women more choice outweigh all the other considerations? Should the government open doors to the multi-billion dollar fem-tech industry, which primarily peddles a chance at fertility to women?
Should this industry be questioned with a little more scepticism than it is right now?