Increasing numbers of women in the UK are facing the stark choice of having to destroy their frozen eggs or become a mother before they are ready to do so because of an outdated and unscientific law.
If women want to try to preserve their fertility, the best time to freeze their eggs is in their 20s but, under current UK law, women who freeze their eggs for non-medical (social) reasons can only store them for 10 years. This means if a woman freezes her eggs when she is 28, she has to be ready to use them before she is 38; if she isn't, she faces a limited number of distressing and potentially financially-crippling options:
to have her eggs destroyed, and with them perhaps her best or only chance of becoming a biological mother;
to become a parent before she is ready to do so, either with a partner or as a solo mum via sperm donation; or
to try to fund the transfer of her eggs to a fertility clinic overseas and have fertility treatment abroad at a later date.
The Progress Educational Trust (PET)'s #ExtendTheLimit campaign calls on the Government to extend the 10-year storage limit for eggs frozen for social reasons.
The campaign originally launched with a petition on the UK Parliament's petitions website, which attracted more than 1,000 signatures within the space of a week, but then had to be closed due to the UK's 2019 General Election.
Now, the Government has listened to PET's campaign, and has launched a public consultation on extending the 10-year limit for eggs (as well as for sperm and embryos).
The proportion of women affected is increasing rapidly. In the UK, figures from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) reveal the number of women freezing their eggs more than tripled in the last five years. However, the current 10-year storage limit acts as a perverse incentive for women to delay freezing their eggs until their mid-to-late 30s when egg quality is declining and a woman's chance of becoming a biological mother has reduced - latest HFEA data shows two-thirds of UK women freezing their eggs are over 35.
PET director Sarah Norcross says: 'Women deserve reproductive choice. PET's #ExtendTheLimit campaign aims to improve women's reproductive options. The 10-year storage limit for social egg freezing is a very clear breach of human rights: it limits women's reproductive choices, harms women's chances of becoming biological mothers, does not have any scientific basis (eggs remain viable if frozen for longer than 10 years) and is discriminatory against women because of the decline in female fertility with age. It is an outdated piece of legislation that does not reflect improvements in egg freezing techniques and changes in society which push women to have children later in life; that's why it is time for change now.'
How you can help
You can get involved in PET's #ExtendTheLimit campaign in the following ways.
Respond online to the UK Government's public consultation, before this consulation closes on Tuesday 5 May 2020.
Use the campaign images below, on social media and elsewhere. Please be sure to use the #ExtendTheLimit hashtag and link to this webpage - www.progress.org.uk/extendthelimit
Register online to attend a free public event entitled 'Freezing Eggs: What Are Your Choices? What Are Your Chances?', taking place in London on the evening of Wednesday 29 April, where the 10-year storage limit will be one of the issues discussed.
Make an online donation to the campaign.
Email PET's Head of Communications, Catherine Hill, at firstname.lastname@example.org for other ways to get involved. For example, if the 10-year storage limit affects you personally, then you can volunteer to speak to the media.
Please feel free to download the images below and use them, on social media and elsewhere. Click on an image to download it.
Please be sure to use the #ExtendTheLimit hashtag and link to this webpage - www.progress.org.uk/extendthelimit