Compulsory counselling needed for women considering single motherhood through export of frozen eggs - The Online Citizen Asia
Dr. Alexis Heng Boon Chin highlights concerns surrounding the extension of the age limit for elective egg freezing and the restrictions placed on single women seeking fertility treatment in Singapore. He suggests that legal loopholes allow women to export their frozen eggs for donor sperm IVF...
Compulsory counselling needed for women considering single motherhood through export of frozen eggs
Recently, the Government announced that the age limit for elective egg freezing will be extended from 35 to 37 years old.
At the same time, it was again reiterated that only married women will be allowed to utilize their frozen eggs for In vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment.
Nevertheless, there is a legal loophole around this restriction, because women who are unable to find a suitable husband after freezing their eggs, can still export their frozen eggs to a foreign fertility clinic for donor sperm IVF.
After all, most single women who freeze their eggs, do so with the strong expectation of utilising them one day, especially after spending so much time, effort, and money in freezing their eggs, in addition to paying expensive storage fees over several years.
Nevertheless, the Ministry of Health (MOH) should implement compulsory counselling to ensure that women fully understand the implications of their decision to purse single motherhood through export of their frozen eggs.
In particular, women considering single motherhood with their frozen eggs should be made aware of the following issues:
Legal Discrimination Against Unmarried Mothers And Exclusion From Various State Benefits And Subsidies
First and foremost, women considering single motherhood should be made aware of the law. In Singapore, there is a clear distinction between the legitimate children of divorced and widowed single mothers, versus the illegitimate children of unmarried mothers who gave birth out of wedlock.
In the former case, the children are entitled to state benefits and subsidies, while in the latter case, the children face much legal discrimination, and are often excluded from various state benefits and subsidies.
For example, in Singapore, unmarried mothers are excluded from various pro-family incentives given only to married heterosexual couples with children; such as tax rebates, government subsidies for public housing, as well as cash gifts to newborn babies.
Additionally, illegitimate children in Singapore do not have automatic inheritance rights to their single mother’s estate in the absence of a will.
Mishaps And Scandals Associated With Foreign Sperm Banks
Women considering using foreign sperm donors should be aware of various recent mishaps and scandals associated with foreign sperm banks. In particular, three prominent cases have been widely reported in the news media.
Firstly, the scandal involving an ex-criminal (Christopher Aggeles) diagnosed with schizophrenia who falsely claimed to be a genius with a PhD in neuroscience, who went on to sire 36 children from his donated sperm.
Secondly, a racial mix-up that resulted in a white woman (Jennifer Cramblett) receiving donated sperm from a black man.
Thirdly, a single mother (Danielle Rizzo) with two autistic sons conceived from sperm donated by an autistic man, who went on to sue the sperm bank.
Possibility Of Reduced Chances Of IVF Success Upon Export Of Frozen Eggs
Women should also be aware of possible reduced chances of IVF success upon exporting their frozen eggs to another fertility clinic overseas, due to incompatible freezing and thawing protocols practiced by different IVF laboratories.
Because human eggs are very sensitive, the thawing technique needs to be compatible with the freezing technique, which is similar to the relationship between a lock and a key.
Hence, patients should preferably use the same IVF lab that perform both the freezing and compatible thawing procedures to achieve good IVF success rates with frozen eggs.
Moreover, there is also a remote risk of damage to the frozen eggs during the transportation process, depending on the reliability of the courier company.
Fluctuations in temperature during the transport process due to malfunctioning equipment may permanently damage the frozen eggs, drastically reducing chances of IVF success.
Challenges Faced By Mixed-Race Donor-Conceived Children
Exporting frozen eggs overseas to a foreign fertility clinic opens up the possibility of using a sperm donor of a different race.
In recent years, there has been an increasing trend of Asian women pursuing single motherhood overseas with Caucasian sperm donors, probably due to the pervasive influence of Western beauty standards of fair skin, tallness, blue eyes, and blonde hair, brought about by the influence of Hollywood movies and extensive media advertising.
Such illegitimate mixed-race children may face problems integrating into their extended family and society. This differs considerably from the situation of legitimate children of mixed-race marriages, who have parents and extended family that can guide and introduce them to both cultures.
By contrast, an illegitimate Eurasian child of a single mother would stick out like a sore thumb, and be like a cuckoo in the nest within an all-Asian extended family.
“My Body, My Choice!” is a double-edged sword
In this day and age, it is often stressed that women should have a choice and right to do whatever they want with their own bodies, which include the option of single motherhood with their frozen eggs.
“My Body, My Choice!” is a slogan that is often heard, but it is often forgotten that this is not just a one-way street, and should instead be seen as a double-edged sword that can cut both ways.
Because a woman’s right to choose comes with consequences and responsibilities, which will not only impact herself, but also her unborn child and loved ones, particularly her parents.
Besides considering the financial, emotional and physical challenges of single motherhood by choice, and whether they are up to the challenge; they must also consider the emotional and psychological well-being of their child.
For example, how would the child feel upon going to kindergarten or school and observing that most classmates have a father and mother, while he or she is different by having only a mother.
It must be noted that children of divorced mothers or those born out of wedlock usually know the identity of their biological fathers, and often have some degree of contact with them.
By contrast, the identity of the biological father of a sperm donor-conceived child and the role that he plays in the child’s life is often a complete blank. Hence, it is often questioned whether this is in the child’s best interest.
After all, numerous sociological studies have pointed to better academic performance and less behavioral problems with children raised in conventional two-parent households.
Hence, women should receive compulsory counselling to make them aware of the various challenges and pitfalls of single motherhood by exporting their frozen eggs for sperm donor IVF overseas.