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The Big Chill: The rise of egg-freezing parties

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Deacon Greg Kandra - published on 09/12/16

So this is a thing now, via Matthew Pinto: 

A New York-based friend who is studying for her Ph.D. recently shared with me a LinkedIn notice she received. Upon logging into her profile, she saw that she had been invited to an “egg-freezing party.” As you might guess, the invitation had nothing to do with the kind of eggs you buy from the grocery store. Rather, it was an invitation to learn more about what has been dubbed by some as the “newest fertility trend.” “Egg-freezing parties” have been on the rise over the past two years, as has been noted by the Scientific American and New York Magazine. These articles profile a typical egg-freezing party, in which women in their twenties and thirties gather at bars and sip drinks while a presenter explains the decline in a woman’s fertility when she reaches her thirties. The presenter then introduces attendees to the concept of egg-freezing, whereby a woman receives a number of hormonal injections to harvest and freeze her healthy eggs so that later, when she is ready to conceive, she can begin the IVF process and hopefully become pregnant. One company that offers this service charges $12,500 to harvest twenty eggs, and then $6,500 for one fertilization and implantation cycle. These charges do not include the many medication costs associated with the procedure or the costs of refreezing unused viable embryos fertilized in the first cycle. Another company that offers egg-freezing offers a chart profiling the most common reasons women are willing to pay such steep costs for a procedure that is only about fifty percent successful.

You’ll want to read on to see his thoughts on the Catholic response to all this.  Among other things:

In the Christian worldview, the gift of human sexuality allows us to co-create human lives with God. If we tamper with this amazing gift, we shut ourselves off from truths God wants to reveal to us through his plan for creation. The desire to have children is entirely natural, and some women may feel like they have no choice but to freeze their eggs to fulfill this desire. As a Church, we need to ask ourselves how we can speak to young women in a way that dispels the despair or anxiety that tempts them to take things into their own hands instead of trusting that God has something wonderful in store for them.

As for Catholic teaching, the USCCB offers this clear guidance: 

One reproductive technology which the Church has clearly and unequivocally judged to be immoral is in vitro fertilization or IVF. Unfortunately, most Catholics are not aware of the Church’s teaching, do not know that IVF is immoral, and some have used it in attempting to have children. If a couple is unaware that the procedure is immoral, they are not subjectively guilty of sin. Children conceived through this procedure are children of God and are loved by their parents, as they should be. Like all children, regardless of the circumstances of their conception and birth, they should be loved, cherished and cared for. The immorality of conceiving children through IVF can be difficult to understand and accept because the man and woman involved are usually married and trying to overcome a “medical” problem (infertility) in their marriage. Yet the procedure does violence to human dignity and to the marriage act and should be avoided. But why, exactly, is IVF immoral? In vitro fertilization brings about new life in a petri dish. Children engendered through IVF are sometimes known as “test tube babies.” Several eggs are aspirated from the woman’s ovary after she has taken a fertility drug which causes a number of eggs to mature at the same time. Semen is collected from the man, usually through masturbation. The egg and sperm are ultimately joined in a glass dish, where conception takes place and the new life is allowed to develop for several days. In the simplest case, embryos are then transferred to the mother’s womb in the hope that one will survive to term. Obviously, IVF eliminates the marriage act as the means of achieving pregnancy, instead of helping it achieve this natural end. The new life is not engendered through an act of love between husband and wife, but by a laboratory procedure performed by doctors or technicians. Husband and wife are merely sources for the “raw materials” of egg and sperm, which are later manipulated by a technician to cause the sperm to fertilize the egg.
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