Removing and freezing your ovary so you can “use” it later, when you’re “ready” to have children? Apparently.
Women from Hong Kong, California and New York who want to have babies, just not right now, are paying thousands of dollars to have their eggs frozen at Montreal’s McGill Reproductive Centre. In St. Louis, Mo., newly single professionals in their mid-30s have elected to remove and freeze part or an entire ovary, to use when they need it.
It has been five years since the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society sought to combat an infertility crisis by urging women to stop waiting so long to have babies, and five years since the scientific breakthrough that allowed women with cancer to successfully freeze their eggs or ovarian tissue. While one initiative was meant to convince women to begin their baby-making sooner, the other advancement predicted a future where any woman could cheat the ageing process that hampers fertility.
Rather than heeding the advice of starting sooner, women are increasingly turning to technology for what experts call social fertility reasons, even as the debate around preserving fertility continues.
I don’t mean to sound unsympathetic to the women who find out, often too late, that they can’t have the babies they suddenly realize they wanted all along. I can’t imagine how painful that must be. But – and you can call me a Crunchy Con all you like – I have trouble believing that this kind of awfully invasive (and expensive) technology is the answer.
Andrea wins the award for most inappropriate response to a news item: Should I be admitting this? I found myself chuckling while reading this. I’m not laughing at infertility, just to be very clear, but rather at this notion that you could fight nature by removing a body part and freezing it the way I do with leftover casserole. It seems not only wrong to me, but slightly funny. By the way, the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society hasn’t exactly been working overtime to fight “the infertility crisis” as they call it–there is close to zero public awareness amongst the women I know that there’s a time limit on having babies. A certain type of feminist friend has won the day: they are out and about stridently asserting that none of this matters, that women have no real longing to be mothers and it’s really all about having that successful career, isn’t it? File folders and clients to see you through your old age, neatly arranged in piles and there when you need ’em. Fan-tas-tic.
Véronique adds: Can I grab the award from Andrea’s capable hands for a minute and step on my soapbox? As someone who was blessed by runaway fertility I do not want to diminish the anguish felt by infertile couples. However, I was recently reading an excellent commentary from one of my students in bioethics at St. Paul’s University where she argued for public coverage of fertility treatment for infertile couples, including lesbian couples. I am increasingly irritated, on behalf of infertile couples everywhere, when we include old(er) women and lesbian women in our grab bag of infertility. Diminishing fertility because of age is not a medical condition: it’s the natural course of things (one I’m actually looking forward to, actually). Inexistent fertility because of homosexuality is not a medical condition: it is just the way things are when you don’t have a sperm and an egg. Don’t get me wrong: I am not saying that older women and homosexual couples shouldn’t want to be parents because that’s what they asked for (although I am not immune from thinking along those lines when I get going). My point is that in a system with limited resources the pie doesn’t get bigger as more people claim a piece of it. By ever extending the definition of infertility to include couples who are fertile but homosexual or used to be fertile but no longer are, we prevent those who are truly infertile from getting access to treatment.
Also, while I’m at it, isn’t it interesting that a treatment that was originally meant for cancer patients made infertile by chemotherapy has been taken over by wealthy women wishing to beat nature? In the mean time, is the treatment available through public health insurance for cancer patients? I didn’t think so. No wonder provinces won’t fully fund infertility treatments.by