Could social egg freezing be a solution to Singapore's population problem?
What is social egg freezing and can it be done in Singapore? Find out in this article, and don't forget to make your voice heard in the poll on the last page...
With Singapore’s late founding father Lee Kuan Yew declaring that the declining fertility rate is the biggest threat to Singapore’s survival, it’s no secret that our national population needs a boost.
The government knows this and has encouraged couples over the years to go forth and procreate with a slew of generous baby bonuses, education campaigns, and most recently, the granting of up to two weeks of paid paternity leave for dads. But, with a rapidly ageing population, we still need more babies to achieve equilibrium.
Many couples these days delay having families for reasons that can hardly be considered shallow.
According to a survey of 410 women aged 20 to 45, conducted by the Bioethics Legal group for Reproductive Issues in Singapore (BELRIS), most of the respondents wanted financial and relationship stability before having children.
Also, “young women needed to believe they would be able to pursue their employment goals while still having the number of children they wished to have.”
Egg freezing is the process of freezing a woman’s eggs for later use. It is often done for women facing infertility issues or who have medical conditions such as cancer, the treatment of which could impact fertility levels.
What about women who don’t have fertility problems, but who wish to delay having children for social and economic reasons?
Given that women are delaying the age they become mothers and/or get married because they want to pursue their studies or career ambitions, social egg freezing, or egg freezing for non-medical reasons, seems like a viable option that enables women to have children when they are ready for it.
This procedure enables a woman to freeze her eggs for future use when she is at the peak of her fertility, and might be a solution for “stemming the decline in fertility rates, increasing the economic potential of women, and even promoting gender equality in leadership.”
There is one problem though…
Find out what it is on the next page!
According to a report published by the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, “in Singapore, freezing eggs for future use is only allowed for women who might lose their fertility through medical treatments such as chemotherapy.”
Social egg freezing for all other women is currently illegal due to medical concerns as well as social and ethical implications, as stated by Dr Amy Khor, Minister of State for Health, in 2014.
Social concerns include the fear of more women delaying marriage and giving birth at a later age. From a medical point of view, Singapore’s Ministry of Health is cautious about permitting social egg freezing because of “the lack of data on the long term effects that the procedure might have on the mother and child.”
Also, the procedure may involve considerable medical risks, such as the the possibility of pain, bleeding and infection.
However, Singaporean women are open to the idea of social egg freezing. The BELRIS study referred to earlier revealed that a significant eight in 10 women agreed that social egg freezing in Singapore should be made legal. Thirty percent stated that they were “likely” or “somewhat likely” to go through with the procedure.
In light of the support in favour of women being given the option to freeze their ova, Singapore’s Health Ministry has begun reviewing the procedure’s medical, scientific and ethical implications since November 2014.
Should social egg freezing become legal in Singapore, many single women as well as married career women would have a greater chance at a successful pregnancy even at a later age.
With many believing that this would also increase national birth rates, it is definitely a move to be pondered over and debated as more Singaporeans learn about the procedure and become aware of its possible ethical consequences.