In a recent court battle, Teresa Xu tried to change the laws around egg freezing for millions of Chinese women. Sadly, she just lost this important court case – but she says she will appeal
Xu is an unmarried woman who began legal action in 2019 against the Beijing Obstetrics and Gynaecology Hospital when they refused to help her freeze her eggs. In China, this procedure is only legally available to married women with documented infertility issues. It is not available on demand to women who want to extend their fertility.
She fought against this strict rule, but the court recently found that her rights had not been violated. She has said this judgement is a “setback” for women’s reproductive rights in China. She says she will appeal the ruling.
The hospital says their hands were tied
Though they understood her complaint, they had to follow the law. Even if they wanted to help her freeze her eggs, it is illegal in China.
Chao Wei, a spokesperson for Beijing Obstetrics and Gynaecology Hospital, says that the doctors there were forced to comply with Chinese government regulations on assisted reproductive technologies.
Xu tried first to freeze her eggs in 2018 when she was 30
As a freelance editor with a busy career, she was not yet ready to have a child. However, the hospital staff instead encouraged her to have a baby at that time.
Frustrated, she was soon told that egg freezing was only possible for women who could not become pregnant without fertility treatments. They warned her about the risks of having a child later in life and told her that single mothers face stigma and challenges.
While there is an increasing demand for egg freezing in China as more women focus on their careers, it is only possible by travelling abroad
However, Xu did not feel she should have to do so. Travelling abroad was also too expensive for her, and she wanted to do freeze her eggs in Beijing.
This case has attracted a lot of attention in China, which still places strict controls on birth control and lags behind global reproductive rights. Xu is determined to take this further, saying in a WeChat video that she was “not going to let it end like this.”
“We can’t say that this is a blow to the reproductive rights of single women but it may be a small temporary setback.”
When she originally visited the hospital, she felt infantilized and judged
“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. I have already received a lot of this pressure in this society, this culture.”
What do you think about Teresa Xu’s case in China? Do you support her attempts to change Chinese law, and do you think she will ultimately be successful? Are you Chinese and have experienced similar? Let us know in the comment section below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org – we want to hear your thoughts.
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