Friday, April 20, 2007

Take Your Hands Off My Eggs!

There has been a lot of talk about new technologies that have come out to safely enable women to freeze their eggs for later use. This is great for female cancer patients who often lose the ability to produce eggs because of chemotherapy but its also a great opportunity for women to expand their choice about just when and how they have children. Thus, not surprisingly, this has raised concern among 'certain' people.

While safety is always a concern with new medical technology, egg freezing has just as often raised ethical and social concerns because it could allow women to have children at any age they choose.

But increasingly, scientists and ethicists are seeing egg freezing as an inevitable element of motherhood in the modern era. An article published today in the journal Science, for example, entitled "Melting Opposition to Frozen Eggs" notes that: "A typical man has almost a lifetime to become a father, but a woman's reproductive prime lasts only a decade or so--and coincides with the critical time for getting an education and establishing a career."


Oh, no! Not women having reproductive choice!! Whatever will we do!? Someone call the police! The RCMP! The National Guard! The government to legislate against women being able to postpone their childbearing years! The article goes on to say:


Any moves to set limits around how and when women can freeze their eggs, he said, would raise profound questions.

"To what degree does the state have a right to tell women when they can or can't have children? When does the government have a right to step in and say, 'Oh, you're too old.' "

Seang Lin Tan, director of the McGill Reproductive Centre, said society tends to be more judgmental of the prospect of older women having children than it is of older men, who routinely father children into their retirement years -- former prime minister Pierre Trudeau and silent screen star Charlie Chaplin among them.

Prof. Caulfield said it could be that society views mothers as the primary caregivers, and when they reach a certain age, people debate their ability to handle the physical demands of childbearing and child rearing.



Well, of course. So, men can have children at any age because we don't see fathers as 'necessary' but women have to breed within two decades or not at all? Tick Tock. This is ridiculous and does not take into account the ways in which life and society have changed. What if a sixty year old woman has a child with a thirty year old man who wants to be the primary care giver? Men have been doing that for years!

And let's challenge this idea that forty and fifty year old women are apparently incapable of being effective mothers! Have these people even talked to women in this age bracket in recent years? The majority of the women I know are active and healthy! This week I attended a lecture by Edie Weiner a noted futurist who said that the majority of women my age and older will live past age 100! In the light of this, I see no problem with delaying having children until you've established your career and are financially secure. I think you will be seeing more women having children in their forties and fifties and even sixties and using reproductive technologies to extend their fertility.

I don't see how this is any of Health Canada's business. I say get your nose out of my ovaries!

2 comments:

Catharine said...

Interesting that you mention that today, since this article came out yesterday- http://fe68.news.sp1.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070419/hl_nm/childbearing_dc
It's about a Montreal mother who is freezing her eggs so that her daughter, who has Turner's syndrome and may not be able to have children, can use them if she wishes.

Amanda Reaume said...

I know! They mentioned that in the article that I was refering to. Some people feel 'icky' about the mother doing that for her daughter. I think ultimately its the mother's choice whether she wants to do that and the daughter's choice whether she will use the eggs.