Individual Solutions to Social Problems
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Non-medical egg freezing (NMEF) is egg freezing for the sake of delaying parenthood. The label ‘non-medical’ can be confusing, since the extraction and freezing of human eggs is undeniably a medical procedure. The point is that whereas ‘medical egg freezing’ is done in order to retain capacity to procreate despite a potentially threatening medical condition (eg, cancer), ‘non-medical egg freezing’ is done for the sake of getting more time to find a suitable partner and/or to establish a career before embarking on parenthood. One type of argument against NMEF is the individualisation argument, according to which NMEF is problematic in virtue of being an individual solution to a social problem. The underlying problem that ought to be targeted, it is argued, is the patriarchal structures in the labour market, which disprivilege women and make it excessively difficult to combine work and parenthood. In “Arguments on thin ice”, Thomas Søbirk Petersen helpfully distinguishes between three variants of the individualisation argument: the non-address view, the distraction view and the further oppression view. Petersen argues, moreover, that none of these is convincing, and therefore that the rejection of NMEF is unwarranted.