As it turns out, despite the constant advances of women towards “having it all”, we have a while to go yet. According to Sarah Elizabeth Richards, we women still haven’t quite embraced the ability to control when we have children. Enter egg freezing.
I just read her article in the Wall Street Journal, titled “Why I Froze My Eggs (And You Should, Too)”. Needless to say, I am now more convinced than ever of why this will never be an option.
Richards’ argument stresses the notion of ultimate control of her body. While I hate to be a party pooper, I should point out that this is flawed. Women will never be able to completely control when they have children. Ever heard of menopause? Even with our society’s preoccupation for controlling everything, it’s just impossible. You may have your 25 year old egg in the freezer, but your 60 year old body isn’t going to handle it. There are always time constraints when it comes to having kids, unless you want to get into the complications of surrogacy too – and that’s a whole other issue.
Richards also pushed the argument of more time. On one hand, she said that that freezing their eggs gave women the option to build up their career before having a family. But a big reason for her (she froze her eggs at age 36) was that she could continue looking for that perfect man in a relaxed manner, rather than in a freaked out I-want-a-man-and-kids-now frenzy. But as some of the comments on her article mentioned, going on about her right to a child at her own time does make her come across as a little selfish.
One line that really struck me from Richards’ article was, “When you are lying naked on a cold operating table in a foreign country while a stranger tries to harvest—egg by precious egg—the last of your fertility, you truly own your desire to be a mom.” Yes, that sounds like a trauma in itself. But isn’t it funny that while she was willing to do this to for motherhood, she couldn’t slow down her career or say no to the dead-end relationships she mentions?
Richards’ arguments aside, I can’t help but see so much wrong with the picture of freezing your eggs. For one, who knows what is better – a frozen 20 year old egg or a 40 year old egg in its natural surroundings? Not to mention the massive chance that the whole process won’t be successful. I have a friend who works in women’s health and natural family planning, and she is adamant that it hardly increases your chances of producing offspring. Richards does point out that “you can go online to one of the many commercial egg banks … and order a batch of frozen eggs donated by a woman who looks like you”. Is it just me or does this dangerously encourage trafficking, the commercialisation of fertility and a kind of “egg prostitution”?
What probably bothers me most is also the most ironic point. Women spend so much on contraception and birth control to suppress their fertility in their teens and twenties. A decade or two later, and they’re forking out thousands to get the opposite effect, because suddenly fertility is something they want. It makes me so sad! Why not let things happen naturally and avoid all this inconvenience?