A single Chinese woman sues hospital over refusal to freeze eggs


An unmarried Chinese woman has filed a lawsuit against a hospital for rejecting her request to undergo a medical procedure to freeze her eggs due to her marital status.

The case, heard at a court in Beijing, is China's first legal challenge of a woman fighting for her reproductive rights.

According to China's laws on human assisted reproduction, only married couples can use such health services, and they must be able to prove their marital status by showing a marriage license.

Teresa Xu, 31, visited the Beijing Obstetrics and Gynaecology Hospital at Capital Medical University in November 2018, wanting to freeze her eggs while she focused on her career as a writer on gender issues.

A woman's eggs deteriorate in quality as she ages, presenting obstacles to conception among older women. Through a medical procedure, a woman's eggs can be removed from her ovaries and frozen for use at a later time.

Xu, from north-eastern China's Heilongjiang province, said on her first visit to the hospital for a checkup, the doctor asked about her marital status and urged her to have a child instead of freezing her eggs.

Upon her second visit, the doctor told her she could not proceed any further.

'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.'

In an interview with Chinese news outlet Red Star News, the hospital said it was following the nation's Management Regulation of Assisted Reproductive Technology, which was approved in 2003.

The law bans medics from using such technology on couples who do not satisfy family-planning policies or unmarried women. 

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 necessarily kept pace.

'This is a systemic issue, because the system has brought this difficult position for single women,' Xu said.

She considered illegal clinics.

The women's bathroom door at the hospital, Xu said, was filled with these ads.

But ultimately she decided against it. 

Chinese woman face great pressure to have babies, often at the cost of their career

Those who can afford it have circumvented China's strict laws on fertility by going abroad. 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 and 200,000 yuan if she wanted to undergo the treatment in the United States.

Xu said her case was expected to go on for several months.

'I personally feel that being able to arrive at this stage is already a sort of win,' she said.

'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.'

Most Chinese parents are eager to marry off their children, especially their daughters, so they can have babies. The file picture above shows the 'marriage market' in People's Park in Shanghai where parents try to find a partner for their unmarried son or daughter 

Xu has a boyfriend who knows about her decision to not have children for now.

She said that she considered the egg-freezing restriction towards unmarried women a form of gender discrimination.

She told the state-run news outlet: 'I know that according to relevant regulations, unmarried men are allowed to freeze their sperm for the purposes of healthcare, for example there are sperm banks and sperm donations.

'In comparison, single women are faced with such hardship in order to freeze their eggs. 

'I think for sure there are discriminating elements in the fertility culture behind it.'

Source: https://www.dailymail.co.uk

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