PAP women and youth wings call on Government to allow egg freezing for non-medical reasons
There is an "urgent need" to review the current ban on "social" egg freezing in Singapore, say the PAP Women's Wing and Young PAP.
The Government should review its position on egg freezing and allow women to undergo the procedure for non-medical reasons, said the People's Action Party (PAP) Women's Wing and Young PAP in a virtual press conference on Thursday (Jul 29).
The two PAP groups presented a joint position paper titled "Take Action for Women in Singapore" at the press conference, which comprised 12 recommendations for tackling the issues affecting Singaporean women today.
In the paper, the groups proposed that the Government reviews its current position on egg freezing and allows women the option of participating in this procedure for non-medical reasons.
Currently, licensed assisted reproduction centres in Singapore are only allowed to freeze eggs when there are medical reasons, such as before a woman undergoes chemotherapy treatment that will adversely affect her ability to have a child.
DELAYED MARRIAGE MINDSET NEEDS TO SHIFT: PAPER
Responding to a parliamentary question last year, the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) had reiterated the ban on "social" egg freezing, which is when the procedure is carried out beyond medical grounds.
The ministry said some people had asked for the procedure to be extended to those who with other reasons for it and acknowledged that "social" egg freezing "may benefit some women because of their personal circumstances", such as not being able to find a partner and wanting to preserve their chances of conceiving if they marry later.
"However, we also have to take into account the ethical and social concerns over legalising social egg freezing, including inadvertently causing more to delay marriage or parenthood based on a misperception that they can have a child whenever they wish to.
"The risks of developing complications during pregnancy also increase with age, even if the child is conceived through a frozen egg," MSF had said, adding that it was "carefully reviewing" the matter.
The position paper by PAP Women's Wing and Young PAP noted how the reproduction rate of Singaporean women has continued to decline over the past two decades despite the availability of monetary and other social incentives put in place by the Government to encourage procreation.
It also pointed out how Singaporean women today are opting to pursue their career aspirations, and wanting to delay marriage and childbirth.
"These reflect the changing realities in Singapore," the paper stated, adding that while Singapore should continue its efforts to make it conducive for people to marry and have children early, it also needs to be "cognisant of these current realities and consider pragmatic, multi-pronged approaches to address our declining birth rates and support women in their journey to motherhood".
On the "concern that allowing women to freeze their eggs encourages them to delay finding a partner and having a child", the groups said that "this is a mindset that needs to shift".
USE OF WORD "SOCIAL" UNDERMINES SERIOUSNESS
"The important issue is that there is a desire on the part of some women to have the option to extract her eggs while she is younger," they said.
"We should understand that the process of extracting the eggs takes a toll on a woman's body. Hence a woman would not make this choice lightly. Finding the right partner may not be so easy for everyone and we should give options to women," they added.
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The groups highlighted the "value in giving a woman the option to preserve her eggs earlier, when she is younger", taking into account that the quality of a woman's eggs declines over time.
"The success of an assisted conception, should this be necessary in the future, may be improved as compared to a situation where a woman is only extracting her eggs at a later age," said the PAP Women's Wing and Young PAP.
Women who can afford it are already doing this procedure overseas, they said, reiterating the "urgent need to review the current position".
In the paper, the groups also suggested that to "provide some control", the Government may consider putting in place a regulatory framework to impose conditions or limit the use of eggs that have been frozen to certain circumstances, for example only within the confines of marriage.
In Singapore, egg freezing for beyond medical grounds is referred to as "social egg freezing".
In addition to the review on the egg freezing ban, the paper also recommends against the use of the word "social" as it "insinuates a casual approach to the matter and does not reflect the seriousness of the decision".
The groups said this first joint submission of a position paper reflects their "shared sense of enthusiasm and commitment to help women succeed in all aspects of life in Singapore".
More than 1,500 people contributed their insight for the paper, through dialogue sessions that saw the participation of both men and women. Surveys were also conducted to understand community sentiment.
The paper, which contains recommendations spanning other issues including the gender pay gap, equal sharing of caregiving responsibilities and rallying a whole-of-society approach to changing mindsets and advancing women's development, was set to be submitted to the Government on Thursday.
The authorities will input their response in a White Paper by the end of the year, after which the recommendations may be debated and discussed in Parliament, said PAP Women's Wing adviser Rahayu Mahzam.
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