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Which issues are moral issues? The Case of Egg Freezing

The link in the Guardian reads "Fertility experts warn about morality of egg freezing". In the Telegraph the word "moral" doesn't appear in the headline, but does appear in the lede (the first sentence of the story, which is supposed to summarize the essential facts):

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the British Fertility Society are to warn of the serious moral and medical doubts about women undergoing the procedure merely to suit their lifestyles.

The stories concern a joint statement, by The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the British Fertility Society. The joint statement has not yet been finalized, and it may be that the journalists have access to details of it which justify their use of the word "moral". But the interesting thing is almost nothing in what they report is particularly concerned with morality.

The joint statement is said to urge younger women to "think carefully" before using egg freezing for purely social reasons. That is, while they endorse the procedure for women who are to undergo chemotherapy which might significantly reduce their fertility, they think that it should not be widely used as a family planning technique; in order to allow women to delay childbearing until they are ready. Why not? The "central issue", said Professor Bill Ledger, "is that it doesn't work very well", with a per-egg success rate of less than 6%. Professor Melanie Davies echoes the concern, saying it will not guarantee a family. 

Now, there may be genuine ethical issues associated with the use of a technique that has a low success rate – for instance, unscrupulous clinics might exploit women by misrepresenting the probable success rate of the procedure. But this is not a problem directly associated with the technique; instead, it is a far more common problem arising in many different arenas. More directly, egg freezing might involve risks to the resultant children – a worry mentioned by Ledger – though it should be added that there is little evidence of such risks so far (this article in Reproductive Biomedicine Online, reports that the risks are not elevated compared to unassisted pregnancies). Egg freezing involves medical procedures with risks to women, but the risks are no greater than IVF, which is not a concern of the experts quoted.

There are ethical issues that arise, everywhere you look in reproductive medicine. But there are ethical issues everywhere you look, full stop. How we earn our money – and whether we earn it – how we spend it, what we eat, what we wear, how we spend our time, at work and in leisure, quite literally everything raises some moral issue (every moment we spend involves opportunity costs, most obviously, and these opportunity costs include opportunities to volunteer for Oxfam, and so on). So why is egg freezing an especially moral issue?

The answer is that it is'nt. It is commonly called a moral issue, because it is within the realm of reproduction and reproduction is reflexively labelled a moral issue. Why is reproduction reflexively labelled moral? I'm not sure. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that religious leaders think this is a realm that they ought to engage with, and journalists often conflate 'ethical issue' with 'religious issue'. Feminists might say it is because we are really concerned with control over women, and dress up our concern in handy language (and they may be right: Professor Ledger is especially concerned with egg freezing for what he called "lifestyle reasons" – as though having a stable relationship and financial security were frivolous concerns). Perhaps it is because of the link between reproduction and sex – 'morality' is often used as a synonym for 'sexual morality'. Whatever the explanation, it is unfortunate. There are genuine ethical issues involved with egg freezing, but in a time of war, severe poverty and climate change, they are not the issues which should first spring to mind when we hear the word 'morality'.
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