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Experts warn lack of transparent data on egg freezing creates ethical issues

by Chantalle Edmunds

Bioethics experts are warning a lack of clear and accessible long term data on egg freezing is creating "a series of ethical issues."

A briefing note published by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics raises concerns about the incomplete picture of success rates and motivations for freezing eggs.

The concerns are mirrored by the Christian Medical Fellowship. Jennie Pollock is associate head of public policy, she told Premier that women should give thought to the many moral and ethical issues egg freezing throws up:

"Think about how many of these eggs you will fertilize when you do come round to wanting to thaw them and then if they are fertilized into embryos, what will happen then? There's lots of huge decisions and big moral and ethical issues."

While the Christian Medical Fellowship welcome advances in medical science which allows women facing cancer or other life changing illnesses to choose to freeze their eggs prior to treatment, Jennie Pollock said there is a danger that egg freezing is used purely as a lifestyle choice:

"I think really what we are trying to do is have control. We already have choice about whether you have children now or later. This idea that we can control all these different options, I want to have a career, I want to be able to travel, I don't want to settle down yet, I'll just bank those eggs that God's given us. 

"We believe as Christians he's designed our bodies, he's made them work in a certain way, he's given us those cycles of fertility, infertility and when those things happen. For us to try and seize control of that and say no I want to do things my way and my timing, I think is really concerning."

The Nuffield note said that clear information and research is needed around egg freezing as an employment benefit, offfered by some companies in the UK, as reported by PA.

It said: "SEF (social egg freezing) as an employment benefit might be seen as a workplace 'gender equaliser' that has positive effects on women's salaries.

"However it might also push women to delay motherhood to show commitment to their career in a manner not required of male employees."

The Nuffield note has also highlighted examples of marketing concerns over egg freezing, which include the trivialisation of egg freezing in media coverage, the role of social media influencers' promotion of the technology, the use of algorithms that target women with egg freezing adverts and events where egg freezing is discussed over Prosecco.

It is important that marketing strategies consider such research so that women's anxieties are not exploited, it said.

The note discussed the benefits of increasing the storage limit for social egg freezing from ten years, which is currently being considered by the Government.

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