During my internship at the WYA Headquarters, we had a White Paper discussion on Surrogacy. I asked our Director of Advocacy if Egg Freezing falls into the category of surrogacy as well. I recall her explaining that by doing so, I end up not only injecting larger amounts of hormones into my body and harvesting the produced eggs, but ultimately, I am also paying to have my future child frozen as well.
Back in 2018, I saw a poster of an Egg Freezing seminar open for everyone back in my university. I was curious about the topic itself. I was vaguely aware of what Egg Freezing was since I would sometimes hear the term but it was only then that I actively researched on what it was. The process of egg-freezing involves injecting oneself with hormones in order to produce more eggs which are to be retrieved and brought to a lab for preservation. These eggs are placed in subzero temperatures and are thawed out later on when the woman is ready to conceive.
After going through many articles, I understood it to be a good option especially for those who would want to have children at a later date. Personally, since I have an autoimmune disease, I was always worried about not being able to conceive naturally when I felt like I was ready to start my own family. I would also need to wait until I was in remission before I try to conceive or else it would be dangerous for me and the child. Since my illness has always been so unpredictable, I often grasp at whatever little control of my life I have. It is probably why I have always been so meticulous in planning out my future; from travel itineraries to potential graduate schools to job opportunities. Despite this, I have also learned to accept that any of these plans may not go the way I would want them to. A new symptom? Move back the schedule by 4 months. A doctor’s checkup? Move back the schedule by 1 week. Feeling a flare coming on? Move back the schedule 1 day later. The only thing that has been consistent in the last 3 years of my life was its unpredictability.
Shortly after, I stumbled upon a blog post of a Filipina who also had Lupus and wrote about her experience with the whole egg freezing procedure. She shared the same sentiments as mine, choosing to freeze her eggs was her “backup” plan in case she could not bear children naturally. The procedure was so detailed and I thought to myself, “Hey this seems like a good option for my future family plans, why not?” She seemed to be happy with the results so I sent the article to my mom as well. We both agreed that while the procedure would be costly, it was a good “safety blanket” for my future.
Personally, it made sense for me to want to freeze my eggs and I wasn’t hurting anyone in the process anyways. It was my body. My line of thinking was “they’re not fertilized, they’re still just my eggs so technically I wasn’t doing any harm to anyone’s lives. My future children did not yet exist.”
When caught up in that moment wherein you genuinely believe that your actions don’t affect others, it’s quite easy to be firm on certain decisions. I never realized that the act in itself: the fact that I paid to be injected with hormones to produce eggs that were to be harvested, was already commodifying not only myself but my child as well. I guess the lack of understanding of what the procedure would ultimately mean allowed myself to believe that it was acceptable.
In WYA’s White Paper for Surrogacy the line “Solutions for infertility should respect both the natural and good desire of couples to become parents and the rights of children not to be treated like objects.” struck me the most after realizing what I had planned to do.
In the past, an Australian couple made a contract with a Thai woman to be their surrogate and she ended up conceiving twins. Baby Gammy was discovered to have Down Syndrome, among other illnesses, and the couple asked her to have an abortion. Pattaramon Chanbua, the surrogate mother, refused and the intended parents ended up taking Gammy’s healthy twin sister back to Australia, leaving him behind.
This is just one of many examples wherein children are treated like objects that are paid for and discarded. To have a child means caring for them, despite the difficulties, hardships and sacrifices that needs to be made. To be a parent, means wholeheartedly choosing to love our children and to put their needs first. I now understand that this doesn’t begin once you hear their first heartbeat but from the moment you decide that you are ready to start a family.
Although I am nowhere near ready to have my own child, I feel more at ease knowing I was able to gain a deeper understanding of the value of human life. These lessons, I hold close to my heart for I would have otherwise never known if I did not undergo my White Paper training at all.
Published: December 10, 2019
Written by Camille Lu, a New York Headquarters intern from the Philippines
The White Papers are WYA’s statements in response to current global debates. They address the most significant topics in global policy discussions and in key international proposals. Learn more about them through here.