Beyond individualisation: towards a more contextualised understanding of women’s social egg freezing experiences

Journal of Medical Ethics 48 (6):386-390 (2022)
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Recently, Petersen provided in this journal a critical discussion of individualisation arguments in the context of social egg freezing. This argument underlines the idea that it is morally problematic to use individual technological solutions to solve societal challenges that women face. So far, however, there is a lack of empirical data to contextualise his central normative claim that individualisation arguments are implausible. This article discusses an empirical study that supports a contextualised reading of the normative work of Petersen. Based on a qualitative interview study, we found that most women could make sense of this argument but addressed other concerns that are overlooked in the premises of moral individualisation arguments, for instance, the influence of relationship formation on the demand of egg freezing. Furthermore, women did not experience social egg freezing as morally problematic. Nonetheless, the interviewees pointed to a need of more societal solutions and even actively advocated for efforts to increase accessibility such as a partial reimbursement and better quality of information. The implications of these findings for empirical bioethics are discussed. While more research is needed, we argue that, in order to better address individualisation arguments and related ethical concerns, we need to contextualise normative evaluations within women’s moral reasoning.



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Author Profiles

Michiel De Proost
Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Gily Coene
Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Veerle Provoost
University of Ghent