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Single women's access to egg freezing in mainland China: an ethicolegal analysis.

Authors
  • Wang, Hao1
  • 1 Shen Junru Law School, Hangzhou Normal University, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China [email protected]. , (China)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of Medical Ethics
Publisher
BMJ
Publication Date
Dec 14, 2023
Volume
50
Issue
1
Pages
50–56
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1136/jme-2023-108915
PMID: 37147115
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

In the name of safeguarding public interests and ethical principles, China's National Health Commission bans unmarried women from using assisted reproductive technology (ART), including egg freezing. Supported by local governments, the ban has restricted single women's reproductive rights nationwide. Although some courts bypassed the ban to allow widowed single women to use ART, they have not adopted a position in favour of single women's reproductive autonomy, but quite the contrary. Faced with calls to relax the ban and allow single women to freeze eggs electively, the National Health Commission refused to amend their policy, partly to protect women's well-being paternalistically and partly to implement the central government's policies to boost the birthrate and maintain traditional family structures. While the government's concerns about elective egg freezing are not entirely unfounded, they have failed to demonstrate that banning single women's egg freezing is a suitable, necessary and proportionate means to safeguard societal interests and ethical principles. The authority's assumptions that women cannot make rational decisions for their health even with adequate informed consent procedures, that banning egg freezing by single women promotes a culture of having children 'at a proper age', and that egg freezing by single women offends China's public moralities have not been substantiated. © Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2024. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.

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