Discussing social hierarchies and the importance of genetic ties: a commentary on Petersen

Journal of Medical Ethics 47 (3):169-170 (2021)
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I am happy to comment on T S Petersen’s1 examination of the ‘individualization argument against non-medical egg freezing ’. Petersen intervenes in the ethical discussion on egg freezing by critically reconsidering a specific type of argument against oocyte cryopreservation for reasons that are not directly related with medical issues. Petersen dissects the claim that such non-medical usage is ‘an individualistic and morally problematic solution to the social problems that women face, for instance, in the labour market’.1 Proponents of this argument believe that egg freezing should not be used by women on an individual level to solve social problems but that one should instead address gendered inequalities on the labour market. Petersen asserts that this individualisation argument is unconvincing—although morally appealing—because of empirically and ethically flawed assumptions. I am enthusiastic—with some minor reservations—about his unravelment of the individualisation argument and his call for more empirical backing. As I understand his presentation, the argument that is the subject of Petersen’s analysis is a recurring argumentative trope in the broader realm of assisted reproduction ethics. For instance, the anticipated positive effect of artificial womb technology in terms of liberation from reproductive and related social inequalities is one of the most dominant ectogenesis …



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