Accepted Paper:

Constructing Egg-freezing Users and Risks: ARTs and Life Management in Taiwan  

Author:

Yuling Huang (National Cheng Kung University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper is a pilot project to investigate the emergence of egg-freezing and its target users in Taiwan as a new technique of life and life-course management. I categorize the potential users of egg-freezing into three groups and how egg-freezing is used as a technique of life and life-course management.

Paper long abstract:

This paper is a pilot project to investigate the emergence of egg-freezing and its target users in Taiwan as a new technique of life and life-course management. Through a content analysis of scientific journal articles, newspaper reports, and fertility clinic websites, I categorize the potential users of egg-freezing into three groups. The first group is the infertile woman who needs complex or multiple infertile treatments. Oocyte cryopreservation increases her chance of success with in-vitro fertilization. The second group is the female cancer patient who wants to have children. Egg-freezing allows her to retrieve eggs before chemo- or radiation therapy causes negative effects on her fertility, so she can conceive later with the help of assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs). The third candidate group is the young healthy woman who is not diagnosed infertile but worries that to delay marriage and childbearing for education and career, she puts herself in the risk of anticipating infertility.

This pilot investigation suggests three findings. First, the new candidates of egg-freezing—women cancer patients and young healthy women—expand ARTs potential users, who cannot be classified as medically infertile but still demand access to ARTs. Secondly, unlike female cancer patients, to whom physicians are active in providing egg-freezing as a treatment choice, young healthy women were excluded from being potential candidates until 2003. Third, the various types of users of egg-freezing illustrate how ARTs operate from illness treatment into life and risk management of pre-illness that embodies gender norms and cultural anxieties about motherhood and singlehood.

Panel T109
Emerging forms of "life" in STS