Single Chinese woman takes hospital to court for refusing to freeze her eggs
An unmarried Chinese woman has taken a hospital in Beijing to court for not allowing her to freeze her eggs because of her marital status.
Only married couples can use assisted reproductive technology in China and they have to show a marriage licence to verify they are wedded.
Teresa Xu, 31, went to the Beijing Obstetrics and Gynaecology Hospital at Capital Medical University in November 2018 and asked to freeze her eggs.
A woman’s eggs decline in quality as she gets older, which could pose barriers to conceiving. But a woman’s eggs can be removed from her ovaries and frozen to be used at a later time via a medical procedure.
Ms Xu, who writes about gender issues, said that on her first visit to the hospital for a checkup the doctor asked about her marital status and urged her to have a child now instead of freezing her eggs.
The doctor told her she was not allowed to proceed any further during her second visit.
“I came here for a professional service, but instead I got someone who was urging me to put aside my work and to have a child first,” she said. “I have already received a lot of this pressure in this society, this culture.”
China’s rapid economic growth has created the conditions for single women to become financially independent, but the country’s policies and medical industry have not caught up.
“This is a systemic issue, because the system has brought this difficult position for single women,” Xu said.
Ms Xu, who said her case was expected to go on for several months, added: “I personally feel that being able to arrive at this stage is already a sort of win.
“For me I didn’t feel like I was at court as an individual. I felt I was standing there with the weight of many other single women’s expectations.”
Ms Xu, from northeastern Heilongjiang province, contemplated going to an illegal clinic but decided against it – noting the women’s bathroom door at the hospital was filled with ads for illicit clinics.
Some individuals bypass China’s strict laws on fertility by going abroad.
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Ms Xu said she had made enquiries but found it too expensive – agents told her that a treatment in Thailand would cost about 100,000 yuan ($14,273) and 200,000 yuan if she wanted to undergo the treatment in the US.
When approached by Reuters for comment, the hospital said it could not speak to international media.
Additional reporting by Reuters
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