The Right To Be Single

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A Chinese court ruled against an unmarried woman who sought to freeze her eggs, a verdict that underscores the challenges women in China face in light of the country’s strict regulation of families, Reuters reported Monday.

The case began in 2019 when plaintiff Teresa Xu sued a Beijing hospital for refusing to freeze her eggs because of her marital status.

She alleged that on her first visit the doctor had told her to have a child right away. On her second visit, he told her she could not proceed because she didn’t have a marriage license, the Associated Press noted.

The hospital had also contended that freezing eggs has various health risks, adding that delayed pregnancy or single motherhood may lead to other social problems.

While Chinese law doesn’t explicitly ban unmarried people from fertility treatments, such procedures are permitted exclusively for medical purposes, such as treating infertility or maintaining people’s fertility before undergoing certain medical procedures. Chinese law allows couples to have three children.

Meanwhile, hospitals and other health institutions implement rules in a way that requires people to show marriage licenses.

The court sided with the hospital, saying it had not violated Xu’s rights. She said she plans to appeal.

The proceedings gained national attention in China, where it is difficult for unmarried women who choose to delay childbirth to access public benefits, such as maternity leave or coverage for prenatal exams.

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