Is egg freezing a good thing? A recent article in the Forward by Amy Klein explores the personal stories of a growing number of Jewish women considering egg freezing. Egg freezing is empowering for some, a relief for others and scary for others. For cancer patients it ought to be a given option. For the general population, however, more questions are in order.
Egg freezing may add to the societal pressure on women’s bodies. We cannot treat women’s bodies as machines that can simply have parts temporarily preserved. As with all technologies that have the potential for good, society needs to change too. How we think about family building needs to change. The attitude of work versus family needs to change. The role of men in all of this needs to be discussed. How can we stop the I-never-thought-about-it, now-it-is-getting-late and we-can-control-it-all rat race and begin to have meaningful conversations with young people about the role of fertility and family?
To be sure this is not about blaming women for taking the opportunity to utilize this amazing technology to help them preserve their chances of motherhood. For sure, egg freezing has benefits and women absolutely deserve and have the right to control their bodies and their fertility. However, most technologies have unintended consequences as well as negative effects and it is important to consider them. Some of those are the issues about careers, fertility, family building, parenting, gender roles, and the politics of women’s bodies that are not being addressed. Let us not utilize this technology to prevent these conversations from happening. These conversations are needed – early, openly and often – to empower women from the start. Not just to justify looking at the the freezer for a back up.