Motherhood, Fairness, and Flourishing: Widening Reproductive Choices in Saudi Arabia

Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 32 (2):276-288 (2023)
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Abstract

In a landmark Fatwa, Saudi Arabia’s highest religious authority—The Council of Senior Scholars—declared the Islamic permissibility of oocyte cryopreservation. The fatwa sanctioned the retrieval, preservation, and future use of oocytes, ovarian tissue, and whole ovaries from cancer patients receiving gonadotoxic interventions. Although momentous, the fatwa’s specification of cancer patients effectively rendered this technology unavailable to others to whom it may be similarly beneficial, including patients with other medical conditions or patients seeking elective cryopreservation. This article argues in favor of widening reproductive choices through expanded access to oocyte cryopreservation in Saudi Arabia—regardless of the underlying cause of infertility—on three grounds: the technology’s compliance with Islamic law, as a matter of fairness in medical practice, and as a means to support the well-being and flourishing of Saudi women within the context of a national societal and economic transformation strategy closely linked to their success.

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