Last week I reported on the conference encouraging single women in their 30′s to freeze their eggs for after marriage. The website Jewish Ideas Daily translated and published two responsa by Rabbi Yuval Cherlow to a desperate 36-year-old, in which he addresses some of the many issues facing singles who desire children.
In the first responsum, Rabbi Cherlow explains why he ultimately permits sperm donation so that single women may conceive. In the second responsum, he defends his position against those who claim he is anti-marriage, and addresses attacks point by point.
Here is Rabbi Cherlow’s reply to those who suggest “cutting-egg” technology such as freezing eggs and implanting ovaries as a solution:
There are those who think that there exists another solution, namely freezing one’s eggs [and using them at such later time when one is married]. Being a member of the Helsinki Committee for medical and genetic experimentations, I am proficient in the research subject of freezing eggs. In the last few weeks I have been dealing intensively on various aspects of egg freezing [IMF], both in slow freezing and in the emerging technologies of flash freezing. One should not deceive women in this matter. The percentage of successful impregnations via these methods is about 2-4% per egg, [Emphasis mine. HK] and the flash freezing which is still in progress is far from being a successful medical procedure. It is still in the realm of research and not a medical protocol. Similarly, it is a complex problem because in reality what is suggested actually tells the woman to freeze her eggs [meaning to prefer harvesting eggs by invasive methods] and to gamble —“if she is lucky and gets married then it was a wise decision, if not she will be forced to be impregnated only on the day she defines it as that day when all her chances to bear children have faded away, I find it very difficult to comprehend this logic. [Emphasis mine. HK] Above all, making the procedure of egg freezing into a modus operandi creates with it very serious ethical problems [maintaining one's fertility even beyond the normal age of fertility etc.] and my ethical stand is that one should minimize such procedures.
I’ve emphasized Rabbi Cherlow’s two main arguments: 1) Egg freezing is still new and not very successful. 2) It is a way of delaying the decision as to whether or not to have children on one’s own. Whether or not a woman marries, she may be forced to make a critical decision about using frozen eggs at a much older age, only to find out that she waited too long.
Previous posts on egg freezing:
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