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Beyond individualisation: towards a more contextualised understanding of women’s social egg freezing experiences
  1. Michiel De Proost1,
  2. Gily Coene1,
  3. Julie Nekkebroeck2,
  4. Veerle Provoost3
  1. 1 RHEA (Research Centre Gender, Diversity and Intersectionality), Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium
  2. 2 Centre for Reproductive Medicine and Centre for Medical Genetics, UZ Brussel, Brussels, Belgium
  3. 3 Bioethics Institute Ghent, Faculty of Arts and Philosophy, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium
  1. Correspondence to Michiel De Proost, RHEA (Research Centre Gender, Diversity and Intersectionality), Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium;{at}


Recently, Petersen provided in this journal a critical discussion of individualisation arguments in the context of social egg freezing. This argument underlines the idea that it is morally problematic to use individual technological solutions to solve societal challenges that women face. So far, however, there is a lack of empirical data to contextualise his central normative claim that individualisation arguments are implausible. This article discusses an empirical study that supports a contextualised reading of the normative work of Petersen. Based on a qualitative interview study, we found that most women could make sense of this argument but addressed other concerns that are overlooked in the premises of moral individualisation arguments, for instance, the influence of relationship formation on the demand of egg freezing. Furthermore, women did not experience social egg freezing as morally problematic. Nonetheless, the interviewees pointed to a need of more societal solutions and even actively advocated for efforts to increase accessibility such as a partial reimbursement and better quality of information. The implications of these findings for empirical bioethics are discussed. While more research is needed, we argue that, in order to better address individualisation arguments and related ethical concerns, we need to contextualise normative evaluations within women’s moral reasoning.

  • ethics
  • women
  • reproductive medicine

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Data are available upon request.

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  • Contributors All the authors have made substantial contributions to the conception, design of the study, acquisition, analysis and interpretation of data. They all participated in the drafting of the work and they approved the final version. MDP and GC are responsible for the overall content as guarantors.

  • Funding The work for this article was supported by the Flemish Foundation for Scientific Research (FWO-Vlaanderen), grant number 1166119N.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.