Keep Your Frozen Eggs Kosher

Keep Your Frozen Eggs Kosher

Should single Israeli women try to stay viable in the marriage market by freezing their eggs?

The following blog entry, "Keep Your Frozen Eggs Kosher," was reprinted with permission from Hannah Katsman, founder and blogger for A Mother in Israel (www.amotherinisrael.com).

Should single, religious women in their 30s be encouraged to freeze their eggs, preserving their fertility for a few more years? This was the topic at a recent Israeli conference on the technology and ethics of single women in their 30s freezing their eggs for later use.

A while ago, the government approved subsidizing the harvest and freezing of human eggs. This is helpful for single women who want to avoid infertility should they decide to try and conceive in their late 30s and 40s, when the quality and quantity of their eggs decreases sharply.

Dina Kashdan, a Jerusalem social worker, organized a conference for religious women who were considering freezing their eggs. "In religious society people don’t like to talk about physical problems. If a woman mentions an egg, people look at her like she spoke about a sex organ." She encourages single women to freeze their eggs before it’s too late.

Rabbi Menachem Burstein of the Puah fertility institute [a program that consists of educating rabbis, medical professionals and the general public about infertility and its various treatments as they relate to Orthodox Judaism], who spoke at the conference, explained that single women who wish to become pregnant via sperm donation face halachic problems. He presents the option of freezing eggs is seen as a solution for women who marry later. The health ministry allows women to implant their frozen eggs until age 54.

Rabbi Burstein:

We are recommending that every single woman over age 32 freeze her eggs. I recommend that anyone who can afford it should do it in Spain, because here there is not enough knowledge in the field. But if she waits a year or two, I believe the knowledge will accumulate. I intend to suggest that women freeze their eggs under halachic supervision, meaning that she won’t be able to use the eggs unless she marries.

Rabbi Burstein believes that egg donation will make older women into more attractive shidduch prospects, as many men refuse to date women who have reached their late 30s. When Rabbi Burstein encounters a couple concerned about the woman’s age, he promises to help them have ten children if they wish. Eighty-two percent of these couples had a baby naturally, and the rest used a donated egg. "Usually it’s the man who gives up on the idea of having ten," Burstein notes.

Kashdan should be commended for bringing this issue to light, and it’s something for single women to consider whether they are religious or not. I wonder, though, about placing eggs under halachic supervision. It sounds like Rabbi Burstein is afraid that women will change their minds about waiting for marriage before having a baby. If this is the only reason, it makes sense for women to keep their options open to avoid messiness later.

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