Saturday, November 29, 2014

Latin America – Gendering Peasant Movements – Gendering Food Sovereignty

"What peasant and grassroots women want is to build a feminism pertinent to their realities." -Pamela Caro. 

Pamela Caro is a director of the Program of Labor Citizenship with the Women’s Development Research Center (CEDEM), a Chilean non-governmental organization that supports peasant women in Latin America as they join the international feminist movement, but on their own terms and realities. Caro is also a volunteer with the peasant women’s organization Anamuri and the Latin American Coordination of Rural Organizations (CLOC).
A problem peasant women face is invisibility in the feminist and women’s movements. A second problem is the weakness with which the food sovereignty concept has dealt with the challenges of feminism. 
To take the second problem first: Latin America has assumed the struggle for food sovereignty as an alternative to the neoliberal economic model. Food sovereignty is based on the conviction that each people has the right to make decisions about its own food systems: about its own eating habits; about its production, marketing, distribution, exchange, and sharing; and about keeping food and seeds in the public sphere. If we establish that food sovereignty is how people decide what to produce and under what conditions, our question from a feminist point of view is, then: how do people make decisions? Who decides how power is organized? Probably, in reality we’ll see that peasant women are in secondary roles in decision-making areas. 
Facing this, peasant organizations such as Anamuri, CEDEM, the women’s sector of CLOC, and La Via Campesina [the worldwide farmer, peasant, and landless people movement] are trying to remove these traditional gender parameters. We are working on a campaign to gender the concept of food sovereignty. The challenge is how to turn food sovereignty into a tool to strengthen and empower peasant women.
Historically, women have been associated with food. Since ancestral times they have cultivated the seeds, reproduced the seeds and hybridized them. They are alchemists; they find new ways to prepare food, whether in the peasant kitchen or by the campfire. However, when food passes from the private sphere to the public one, in the areas of marketing and distribution, men appear in the process, because the male link with food happens in the public area. It’s then that we return to the old dichotomy between the private-female-invisible and the public-male-visible.
We’re dealing with a struggle for visibility and acknowledgment of the equal value of reproduction and the private world. But this alone is not enough. It’s also necessary for men to get more involved with food sovereignty in the early stages of reproduction, preparation, and preservation of food, and not only in the distribution. This is the way that we’ll break the false dichotomy between the female and the male.
This implies very concrete issues, like how to include men in the kitchen and how to include women in marketing products. This is what we call co-responsibility. For the CLOC women, co-responsibility is sharing the different roles and developing symmetrical weight of those roles. It is valuing equally the activities within the kitchen and the activities outside the kitchen. This is a very concrete example of the struggle to include gender in food sovereignty.
The second problem has to do with the Latin American and global feminist movements. The Latin American peasant women’s movement and popular grassroots women’s movements have been in the backyard of the international feminist movement. What peasant and grassroots women want is to build a feminism pertinent to their realities. The women’s sector of CLOC has to wrestle with a space where feminism will fit - not a stereotypical or traditional feminism, but one which acknowledges who indigenous and peasant women are. They take on, carefully, topics like sexuality and reproductive rights which are not yet recognized by peasant women. Radical feminists may see this as more conservative, but for peasant women this feminism is a transgressive and rebellious one, due to the conditions of traditional, ancient sexual division of labor that exists in the peasant world.
This takes a lot of time and work to change. Measuring this change has always been very difficult. They have not been equal across the board. There are peasant women who continue living in conditions of extreme subjugation and subordination. The part of the peasant movement that is active on gender issues is very small, in the continent and globally. We have to accept, very humbly, that what we are generating is still too little, too marginal. We have a great challenge to expand the changes among peasants.
Among the individuals who are an active part of the movement, who have seen beyond the campfire, you do indeed see changes. There is huge sense of value in the activities linked with food preparation, but once the women have gone out into public activities, they see that as a very low ceiling. They have pushed the envelope, they have moved on, and it’s not likely that they’ll go back. A woman who gains rights does not lose them.
Chile is a very isolated country culturally, besides being isolated geographically due to the Andes range that separates it from the rest of the continent. Chilean society is not very aware of or included in international networks. But of the four indigenous and peasant organizations who are members of CLOC/La Via Campesina, one is Anamuri, a national organization of indigenous rural women who used to be members of women’s sections of mixed-gender peasant unions. They rebelled and formed Anamuri in 1997.
These four organizations in the Latin America-wide CLOC/La Via Campesina have a very big challenge trying to make themselves more visible and less marginalized in Chile’s very conservative society. The dominant model is extreme neoliberalism. Food sovereignty is not included in any public policy or legislation or the constitution, unlike other countries like Ecuador, Bolivia, Venezuela and Paraguay. But still, in Chile food sovereignty is part of many local activities that aren’t determined by legislation. These practices are acted on daily by right, not by decree.
In closing, we need to acknowledge the heterogeneity and diversity of the peasant sector. There is a peasant identity that they want to preserve, even if they don’t live in the countryside, even if they no longer have land or farm. It’s what shapes what they are, and how they deal with the world.
We who live in the city need to look further; we need to give urban areas a more rural perspective, because we, too, will gain by participating in the worldview of peasants, farmers, and land-based people. It’s not about helping them. It’s about enriching ourselves as urban dwellers with what these movements can contribute, to better the quality of life of everyone.
 Interview Taken and Edited by Deepa Panchang and Beverly Bell 
Dr. Pamela Caro, Santiago, Chile


Latin America – Gendering Peasant Movements – Gendering Food Sovereignty

November 4, 2014
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Wednesday, November 19, 2014


How do you challenge existing inequalities by speaking up? When you voice your thoughts, do you face threats and abuse? How is violence used to disrupt solidarity and collective action where you are? How do you fight back?
From women critiquing culture to girls posting selfies, the more visible a woman is online, the more abuse she faces. And the more digitally connected we are, the wider our risk. Whether it's a stranger tweeting threats or a partner monitoring mobile phone activity, the aim is to silence and control us. Additionally, such violence is often sexualised and aims to make us feel isolated and alone.
Violence against women attempts to restrict freedom of expression. It's difficult to participate in the public sphere, contribute to culture and decision-making or critique policies and systems when we are fearful. We may not even be able to dress or dance or celebrate the way we want to. The internet is becoming an increasingly important public space, and violence is a real threat—a strategy to narrow our capacity to participate in and define the space.
Yet exercising our right to freedom of expression is critical to ending violence and promoting other rights. We can only create change by speaking up, making it visible, exchanging information and building solidarity through communication.
As part of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, Take Back the Tech! invites you to help us reframe the conversation about violence against women as a violation of our fundamental human right to freedom of expression.


·  Documentation 
Build knowledge on how violence is used as a strategy to silence. Use your mobile phone and interview women and girls where you live on what, when and how they are silenced through violence. Share them with us and tag them #takebackthetech. (As always, get consent before publishing.)

·  Solidarity
On 29 November, join us in commemorating the women human rights defenders who are silenced through various tactics of violence, including removal of their channels of communication. We will create a digital quilt with messages of solidarity, adding our voices to their resistance to silencing.

·  Resistance
How have you responded to online violence? What actions did you take? Strengthen our capacity to fight back and challenge violence by sharing your strategies of resistance. Blog your story, chat with us on Twitter @takebackthetech or write your own 10 tips for challenging violence and safe communications and tag us!
Don't let violence silence us. Speak out! Take back the Tech!

25 November - 10 December

Take Back the Tech

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Monday, November 17, 2014


"The Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA) has to be seen with new eyes," said Cai Yiping, a women's rights activist from China. She reiterated that women's issues cannot be dealt with in silos. For instance, climate change and environmental inequality affect the poor and women are the majority amongst the poor. Similarly, the shift to talk about development is being done at the expense of women's human rights when development goals should be seen in the light of human rights. Yiping ended by reminding participants that "We are here because we are the movement. We are part of a larger movement. We are the faces of the feminist women. Everyone is counted."
Women also continue to struggle to achieve their human rights in and outside the BPfA's critical areas of concern. Women activists from Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Thailand, China, and Pakistan spoke about the work they are doing on issues that are still missing from the BPfA and in its implementation, such us migrant work, sex work, sexual orientation and gender identity, and disability.
Erwiana Sulistyaningsih spoke about her struggle as a former Indonesian domestic worker who had been held in slavery like conditions. "I have learnt many lessons from this experience. Through my case more cases have come out," she said. Lilly Besoa, an internally displaced indigenous woman in Papua New Guinea, continues to work in situations of tribal conflict. "We try to get women into mediating for conflict and continue to educate women on peace and security," she explained.
"I am a member of the Asia-Pacific Network of Sex Workers—APNSW—and I am also proud to say I am a sex worker," started to say Kay Thi Win. Thi Win stressed the importance of decriminalizing sex work in order to reduce violence and ended by saying, "[w]hen a women makes a decision to do sex work she has already empowered herself economically. She makes a decision to not be poor."
Zhang Dandan spoke about the history of the lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (LBT) movement in Mainland China and the strengthening of this movement. She recalled the importance of the 1995 Beijing Conference. "For the first time we saw LBT people," she said. She also insisted on the importance of integrating this issue into the BPfA and reminded women's organizations of the need for visibility of LBT people, "When you talk about gender equality think about gender diversity," Dandan said.
Abia Akram, who coordinates a network of women with disabilities in the region, continues to work to end the barriers of communication, information, and attitudes that women with disabilities face. "We need to make people understand that disability is just a diversity," Akram said. "We also need to strongly engage women with disability and have them in leadership roles," she added.
Representatives from organizations from the Philippines, Fiji, and India spoke about moments of achievements and moments of failure in their work to address the root causes of discrimination against women in achieving development justice. Vernie Yocogan-Diano—a Filipino indigenous people's activist—recalled as a victory the formation and strengthening of indigenous women's organizations and vibrant engagement of indigenous women with governments. However, she continues to be concerned about massive land grabbing and the taking over of indigenous people's natural resources.
Noelene Nabulivou—a Fiji activist—highlighted the way in which civil society has been able to transform the global conversation on issues that were not recognized in the past, such as LBT rights, but considers that there is still a need to be bolder and stronger. Fathima Burnad Natesa, representing Dalit women in India, mentioned as a victory the occupation of land by Dalit women and their participation in high-level meetings where they were able to question the minister about policies and projects that affect Dalit women. She added, "Tribal women are working hard in transforming individual lives. We have the personal and collective courage of a movement."
Finally, Sivananthi Thanenthiran, working with women's organizations throughout the region, said "Autonomy of our bodies equals autonomy of our lives," as she noted the lack of discussion of this issue in the global dialogues as a failure. However, she also stated the need to be true to women's politics in the face of what feels like daily moments of failure.
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Sunday, November 9, 2014

Women’s European Coalition Against Media Sexism

It is long established that the frequent and unrelenting portrayal of women as sexual objects plays a key role in maintaining gender inequality. 

The CEDAW Committee (UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women) has repeatedly called on governments to take action against the stereotyping of women, arguing that such representations contribute to women’s disadvantaged position in a number of areas including in the labour market and in access to decision-making positions, and affect women’s choices in their studies and professions.

The European Parliament has also voted in favour of several gender equality resolutions, including the adoption of a report which calls on both advertisers to stop using sexist stereotypes and member states to monitor how gender is portrayed in advertising. Sexual objectification has a negative impact on both the aspirations and self-esteem of women and girls and promotes attitudes and behaviours  associated with discrimination and violence against women. 

But till now nothing happens. Governments are not working seriously to change culture (with only France as an exception), advertisers continue to use sexist stereotypes and member states are not monitoring anything.

That’s why one year and a half ago, three feminist groups - DonneinQuota for Italy, Chiennes de garde for France and Object for U.K. – founded WECAMS (Women’s Coalition against Media Sexism) with the specific aim to bring an end to sexism in the media in all Europe.

All three groups campaigned against sexist, objectifying and dehumanising representations of women in their own countries for many years. 

As a result, we increased public awareness on this problem but  we couldn’t draw any  politicians’ attention.

We need politicians because we cannot wait any longer for  a specific law regarding the portrayal of women in advertising as in Italy, in the UK and in France we still don’t have it.
In this void of rules, more than 60 years ago, private SROs (Self-Regulatory Organizations) were founded in all Europe and gathered in a federation called EASA (European Advertising Standards Alliance).

Each local SRO – Self-Regulatory Organization -  has its own code and organization and is considered like a public  authority on sexism as they are the only one who seems to care about it.

We do not agree on this opinion for two simple reasons:

SROs do not respect European Resolutions even if DonneinQuota, Chiennes de garde and Object  tried to push local SROs (IAP for Italy, ARPP for France and ASA for U.K.) to do it - without gender experts in their juries, they are not in the position to judge sexism.

Last but not the least, in our opinion, only National Women’s Rights Ministers - in accordance with feminist groups - have the right to issue precise guidelines regarding women’s representation in the media. 

When WECAMS started to work, we had clear in our minds we need:

1.    to oblige SROs to respect European  Resolutions with MEPs’ support 
2.    to convince MEPs about the necessity to have a Directive on this matter, while we continue to ask to our National Governments to issue a specific law 

With strong support from MEPs Silvia Costa (Italy), Sylvie Guillaume (France) and Mary Honeyball (U.K.), we met twice (November 2013 and February 2014 ) in Brussels with EASA (European Advertising Standards Alliance), the network of advertising self-regulation bodies.

We presented them our positions: we explained why sexual objectification and sexual stereotyping of women and girls constitutes discrimination, and emphasized that objective criteria exist to assess whether the content of an advert is discriminatory. We pointed out the inconsistencies in ads being judged as sexist and banned in one European country but not in others. We called for tighter guidelines to regulate advertising, in line with European Parliament resolutions on ending discrimination and in consultation with women’s rights organizations across Europe. We argued that standard-setting would be positive for the advertising agencies themselves; people who work in the industry have told us of the pressure from corporate clients to develop sexually objectifying advertising campaigns, and they would no longer be forced to participate in this.

Yet despite countless studies that demonstrate the discriminatory nature and harmful effects of such advertising, many advertising regulatory bodies still consider sexism an issue of ‘taste and decency’, rather than one of discrimination. Complaints against sexist portrayals of women and girls in adverts are upheld only if they are likely to cause ‘serious or widespread offence’, and a great deal of sexist advertising is judged inoffensive. For example, if demeaning portrayals of women are placed in men’s magazines, they are likely to be deemed ‘humorous’ and unlikely to cause offence to the target audience. And the content is only judged according to ‘prevailing social standards’ – so if discrimination against women is commonplace, sexist advertising won’t stand out as tasteless or indecent.

As a result of our meetings, EASA has promised to consider how it could use its standard-setting role to help ending sexism in advertising but till today we haven’t heard any news from them yet.

Our action had to stop in spring because of European Parliament election but  we are already organizing a third meeting with EASA, even if only one of our  MEPs is still in the FEMM Committee: Mary Honeyball (U.K.).

As you can see, we are pursuing the first point of our action, that is to oblige SROs to respect European Resolutions. What about the second point, that is to convince MEPs that a Directive is absolutely necessary?

We are almost ready. 

Our new campaign will be launched in Europe before the end of November.
We prefer not to disclose it today but if you follow us, both in our countries and also in Europe, you soon will know about it. Please do it as we need also your help to spread it.

Presented by Donatella Martini

Women’s European Coalition Against Media Sexism

UN ECE Regional Review
4 November 2014
Interactive Roundtable on “Women and the Media” 
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Thursday, November 6, 2014


When news broke several weeks ago that tech giants Apple and Facebook were offering female employees elective egg freezing benefits, much of the commentary criticized the decision, interpreting it as a message to women that they should postpone motherhood in favor of advancing their careers—or perhaps their company’s bottom line. Few articles, however, addressed the fact that experts do not view this as a procedure that should be encouraged.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) does not endorse egg freezing for the “sole purpose of circumventing reproductive aging in healthy women.” Two years ago, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), a membership organization representing roughly 500 fertility clinics in the U.S., lifted the “experimental” label from the procedure, but stressed that its decision was not an endorsement for healthy women to freeze their eggs for future use.

After reviewing 981 fairly small studies, of which only 112 addressed safety and efficacy concerns, ASRM’s practice committee wrote: “While a careful review of the literature indicates egg freezing is a valid technique for young women for whom it is medically indicated, we cannot at this time endorse its widespread elective use to delay childbearing.” Citing the critical lack of medical evidence and potential emotional risks the committee cautioned: “Marketing this technology for the purpose of deferring childbearing may give women false hope.”

Prior to these recommendations, a 2010 study reported that of 442 fertility clinics surveyed, 283 were already providing expensive “experimental” freezing services: one-third offered it to women with cancer, while two-thirds offered it “electively to women of advancing maternal age.” It is not clear how many of these clinics were providing these services under an experimental protocol overseen by an Institutional Review Board, as was recommended by ASRM at that time. Today, far more clinics are disregarding ASRM’s most recent guidelines and offering elective egg freezing as a top-tier item on their menu of services.

This eagerness to push forward with non-medically necessary egg freezing services raises an important question: How safe and effective does a technology like this need to be before it is sold to young, fertile women?  

How Did Egg Freezing Arise?

Oocyte cryopreservation—the technical name for egg freezing—is a young and tenuous science. While frozen sperm and embryos have routinely been used in reproductive medicine since the 1950s and ’60s, egg freezing has only been used since 1986 and is more technically complicated. Human eggs contain a lot of water, and during the freezing process ice crystals can rupture the egg’s delicate structure and disrupt the chromosomes inside it.

Only recently has a new flash-freezing technique known as vitrification improved “freeze-thaw” rates to a point where between 90 to 97 percent of eggs survive. Far fewer, however, result in the birth of a baby following in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures. The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology reports that only 2 to 12 percent of thawed eggs lead to a live birth in women age 38, and the most comprehensive study to date suggests live birth failure rates as high as 76 percent in women age 30 who attempted more than one cycle with thawed eggs.  In women age 40, the rates of failure are 91 percent and higher.

Is Egg Freezing Safe?

Egg freezing isn’t the first innovation to shift from being a strictly medical treatment—primarily for cancer patients—to an elective or “enhancement” procedure. Cosmetic surgery developed out of treatments for wounded soldiers, and drugs approved for conditions like narcolepsy, ADHD, and heart failure, are today being used to improve human performance. But as the debate over these so-called “enhancement therapies” has shown, making the leap from medical intervention to elective procedure is tricky. For one thing, healthy end users generally have less to gain and more to lose.

Like those who sell their eggs or undergo IVF, women using egg freezing services must submit to ovarian hyper stimulation and egg retrieval procedures. Both techniques carry risks, but with no mandatory national U.S. registry tracking the health of patients or consumers undergoing these procedures, it is impossible to know exactly how many women actually experience problems. One voluntary data-collection effort is the Infertility Family Research Registry, housed at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. Unfortunately, fewer than 100 of the 500 infertility clinics in the country actively encourage patients or consumers to join and share their health experiences, or those of their offspring.

So how does the process actually work? Drugs known as gonadotropins are used to hyperstimulate women’s egg production from one or two eggs (during a normal monthly cycle) to upwards of a dozen or more. During egg retrieval, a surgeon, guided by ultrasound technology, pushes a long needle through the vaginal wall and into the ovary. Once the needle punctures the ovary, it is maneuvered to pierce one follicle after another, and suction is then applied to draw the follicular fluid into a test tube. Floating within the fluids are the oocytes—the eggs.

There are many safety concerns:  potential pelvic and abdominal pain, injury to the bladder, bowels or blood vessels, pelvic infection, and damage to the ovaries that are punctured during retrieval. Doctors treating egg donors, in particular, have been known to hyperstimulate their patients to the point where many routinely generate 30 or 40 eggs, and sometimes even more. Some donors have reported becoming infertile or experiencing early menopause after exposure to the drugs or retrievals that can leave behind damaging scar tissue. In other instances, their ovaries have swelled from the size of walnuts to that of grapefruits, indicating a not-so-rare condition known as Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome (OHSS). 

Depending on the woman and the drug dosages, mild OHSS can manifest as bloating and abdominal pain that goes away on its own, but sometimes symptoms are more serious. Severe cases of OHSS may require hospitalization for bleeding, severe fluid buildup and pain in the abdomen and lung area, difficulty breathing, decreased blood flow to the kidneys due to blood thickening, and in the most critical cases, even stroke or death. Patient follow-up studies from Canada indicate that about one-third of women who undergo ovarian stimulation suffer “mild” OHSS. In a British study tracking 339 women, roughly 14 percent were hospitalized for OHSS after stimulation cycles yielded more than 20 eggs. 

Though most babies born through freezing methods that also required IVF appear to be healthy, more long-term data on developmental outcomes is needed before safety can be adequately and responsibly evaluated in children. There is not enough medical evidence to know whether the liquid nitrogen and other chemicals used in the new flash freezing technique are toxic to embryos and how they affect cell development.

The most recent national summary available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that 46.4 percent of all babies born through assisted reproductive technologies (ART) were high-risk twins, triplet or higher order births, and costs for their care far exceeded earlier estimates of one billion dollars annually. Though often underreported in the media, additional risks linked to children born through ART include higher instances of preterm birth, low birth weight, stillbirth, neurological impairments like cerebral palsy, and increased associated risks of up to 28 percent of certain birth anomalies, especially of the eyes, neck, heart, and urogenital tract.

Despite All This, Egg Freezing Is Being Aggressively Marketed

Healthy and presumably fertile women in the U.S. are being told that egg freezing is as revolutionary and liberating as the Pill. The most dramatic campaigns have come from egg freezing brokers—businesses that act in partnership with drug companies and fertility clinics. An especially egregious example is EggBanxx, which hosts “Let’s Chill” egg freezing cocktail parties, several sponsored by the drug company EMD Serono, Freedom Fertility Pharmacy, and three New York City-based ASRM member clinics.

The invitation for its September 2014 event at a posh Manhattan hotel highlighted the “Three F’s: Fun, Fertility and Freeze.” Guests who attended told us that EggBanxx presenters did not discuss high failure rates or alarming gaps in safety studies, but they did pitch financing options and offered $500 and $1000 discounts through follow up emails several days later. With a perpetual media and marketing blitz, and clinic websites touting slogans like “set your own biological clock” and “take control of the calendar,” many healthy young women might think they are being negligent if they don’t sign up to “insure” their chances to become a mother in the future.

This kind of dreaming and imagining is lucrative. Egg freezing service providers charge anywhere from $7,500 to $10,000 for one freeze cycle—and upwards of $30K for the three cycles they recommend to find that “one good egg.” Tabulate additional cash-layouts for annual storage fees ($500-$1000), drugs per cycle ($2,500 - $7K) and later, at least one but likely multiple IVF cycles minus the egg retrieval ($12K per cycle), and you’ve conservatively topped out at an estimated $45K—with no guarantee that a healthy baby will be born.

Weighing the Bioethical Risks

Women facing the specter of chemotherapy and radiotherapy know that their fertility will be seriously compromised, if not destroyed. In these patients, the argument can be made that egg freezing is safe enough and effective enough to be a reasonable option. Indeed, this is what ASRM’s and ACOG’s practice committees concluded. Yet these same committees determined that existing research did not adequately meet the medical or safety standards needed to endorse egg freezing in the general population.

Unlike cancer patients, healthy, young women don’t face an immediate and unavoidable threat to their fertility. The threat they do face—time—is certainly real, and can feel overwhelming. But egg freezing, and all the risks it entails, may not be the most effective way to respond to the ticking of the biological clock. If women rely on this technique and it fails years later, they may have lost their reproductive window of opportunity forever. From this vantage point, healthy young women have more to lose than cancer patients.

Commercial interests are erroneously marketing egg freezing as an “insurance plan for motherhood.” Like IVF, egg freezing is more like a gamble or a wager than insurance. “You put down $15,000 or $30,000 dollars and you might be able to preserve your fertility,” says Karen Maschke, a political scientist and research scholar at the Hastings Center, “but there are no guarantees.”

Why Informed Consent is Crucial—But Not Enough

There is no question that women who choose to freeze their eggs are legally entitled to balanced and comprehensive information about the medical, ethical, and psychological risks and concerns associated with egg freezing—including what is not yet known about its safety and efficacy. 

But informed consent alone—which is often surprisingly difficult to obtain—cannot resolve the ethics of elective egg freezing. As scholars in bioethics have argued, an overreliance on informed consent can blind us to the cultural, economic, and political contexts that often pressure patients and customers into believing that they have little choice but to agree to medical interventions that do not necessarily meet their needs or align with their values.

We must ask why women who want to have children fear that, for professional or personal reasons, they will be unable to do so during their safest and most fertile years. If we fail to ask that question, we inevitably endorse a world in which the very real forces that create this fear and reality are not held to account. In this world, “responsible” women freeze their eggs, and the complicated societal problem of reconciling work and family is theirs alone to resolve.  

Josephine Johnston is the director of research and a research scholar at the Hastings Center, a bioethics and policy institute in New York. Miriam Zoll is the author of Cracked Open: Liberty, Fertility and the Pursuit of High-Tech Babies (2013) and a member of the board of the women’s health organization, Our Bodies Ourselves.
By Josephine Johnston and Miriam Zoll Photo:
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