It Should Become Standard for Women to Freeze Their Eggs

It Should Become Standard for Women to Freeze Their Eggs

It Should Become Standard for Women to Freeze Their Eggs

Along with IVF, it’s a revolutionary procedure that allows women to control their own destiny. No wonder the right hates it.


In November of last year, I froze 16 eggs. I had met the man I now plan to marry a few months earlier, but if the relationship hadn’t worked out, I was prepared to become a solo parent. I was tired of feeling like I’d fucked up by failing to find a suitable romantic partner during my peak childbearing years. The women of my generation have more education and workforce participation (pre-pandemic) than at any time in history, but none of the social affirmation or infrastructure to support our ambitions. Even the heterosexual millennial men who are our peers aren’t necessarily interested in a financially or professionally successful partner if she doesn’t put his career first. And I wasn’t terribly interested in doing that.

The prime reason women elect to freeze our eggs, according to a Yale anthropologist who was the lead author for the largest study on the topic so far, involves their “lack of stable partnerships with men committed to marriage and parenting.” The 2018 study found that “most of the women had already pursued and completed their educational and career goals, but by their late 30s had been unable to find a lasting reproductive relationship with a stable partner.” Rather than partnering with the wrong person or resigning ourselves to permanent PANK (“professional aunt, no kids”) status, women—with money—who want children now have options outside of traditional relationships. Having committed the sin of staring down 40 without a mate, I decided to reject pity, self-imposed or otherwise, and proceed anyway.

This is exactly what the misogynists on the Supreme Court don’t want: elective parenthood that defies biology and traditional gender norms. Justice Samuel Alito’s leaked decision makes clear that the right is bent not only on overturning Roe v. Wade but on eliminating any exceptions to the most normative possible reproductive pathways—including the perverted one pursued by women like me, who dare to delay parenthood, remain competitive in the workforce against men, and have our baby too. It’s what so infuriates the incels and men’s rights crusaders: Without the threat of becoming shriveled-up old maids, it’s hard to convince women to settle for them. Ross Douthat said the quiet part out loud when he tweeted: “Worth noting that in the 50 yrs since Roe, men have become less likely to find a spouse, less likely to father kids or live with the kids they father, and less likely to participate in the workforce.” Destroying Roe is about restoring men’s perceived loss of control not only over their own lives but over women’s lives too. That’s why we don’t see any supposedly pro-life Christians rallying for my right to make a baby at 38 by mandating insurance coverage for egg freezing or in-vitro fertilization (IVF).

Indeed, the pending loss of abortion rights has set off an eager round of frenzied efforts across the states to limit those options. In Michigan, Attorney General Dana Nessel, who’s running for reelection, released a mash-up video of her male opponents declaring that the legality of birth control—settled by the Supreme Court in 1965—is now a matter for the states to decide. Lawmakers in Missouri and Louisiana have introduced bills defining Plan B and even IUDs as abortifacients, since they violate the fundamentalist Christian definition of life (the instant sperm meets an egg). Louisiana nearly criminalized IVF with a bill that would have granted full rights to “all unborn children from the moment of fertilization.” Since IVF entails creating multiple embryos from extracted eggs in the hope that just one will be viable enough to implant in the womb, hard-liners regard the discarding of nonviable embryos as murder. The bill was later amended out of concern for couples struggling with infertility—a crime against innocents—as opposed to women who willfully reject their rightful role as caregivers by pursuing a technological solution outside their God-given reproductive capability. We are, as Matt Gaetz put it, “over-educated, under-loved millennials who sadly return from protests to a lonely microwave dinner with their cats.” The cries of “Just breastfeed!” in response to the baby formula shortage made the same point: Women who do not or cannot give over their entire bodies in service to others merit scorn.

I felt so much shame for so long thinking that I hadn’t accomplished parenthood the fun and free way, forcing me to pay a $20,000 tax—still, a luxury I was lucky to afford. It cost me time, mulling over what felt like an expensive admission of failure, as well as frustration that I should be considered a failure at all. No wonder. Egg freezing has been available as an “elective” procedure only since 2012, when the American Society for Reproductive Medicine removed the “experimental” label. I knew one person who’d done it outside of medical necessity, and her advice to me at 35 was full of urgency: Get it done. When I finally did, I felt so proud of myself. Proud for prioritizing my happiness and holding out for it rather than settling for someone and something I didn’t want.

I was sitting in a café with a friend recently—a professional woman in her mid-30s who was at the start of a new relationship—when she broached the topic of egg freezing. I rushed to reassure her that this is now “just what we do.” Not out of urgency, not as a last-ditch effort, and not because we’ve failed at any test of worthiness. The pill was the revolutionary event of the late 20th century, and now it’s freezing our eggs. And just as the pill was prescribed only for married women before becoming available to single women and eventually teenage girls, it should become standard for women to freeze their eggs at 25. Set it and forget it unless and until the time is right. Women deserve the security and freedom that come from not living life like we’re up against an outdated countdown clock, just as men have. Oh, and cats. Lots of cats.

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