FJA 2020 Shortlist 

Category: Contribution to Civil Rights

Anna Louie Sussman (United States)

The Right to Family Life

NewYorker.com

October 22, 2019

The original publications are available via the following links:

https://www.newyorker.com/tech/annals-of-technology/when-the-government-seizes-your-embryos

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/annals-of-inquiry/the-case-for-social-infertility

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/11/16/opinion/sunday/capitalism-children.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2019/10/poland-family-values-cash-handouts/599968/

 

When the Government Seizes Your Embryos

In Poland, single women who have frozen embryos are now barred from accessing them.

In 2012, as she approached her thirty-eighth birthday, Irena, a single lawyer living in Warsaw, began researching fertility clinics with a friend. Neither woman had been having much luck dating—Irena blames her “feminist attitude,” which is not widely shared in conservative Poland—but they didn’t want to miss out on parenthood. Browsing the Web sites of the clinics, they noticed that almost all of them featured only photos of couples. Irena’s friend phoned to confirm that they would treat single women, too.

Irena’s first five artificial-insemination attempts failed, and so did her first attempt at in-vitro fertilization, in which eggs are retrieved from a patient’s ovaries and fertilized before being transferred to the uterus. At the time, the Polish government was offering to reimburse heterosexual couples for their fertility treatments. The procedures were expensive, and Irena, being single, had to pay for them herself. Still, her second round of IVF, in the summer of 2015, looked promising. She got six quality embryos, froze four, and transferred the other two.

 

The Case for Redefining Infertility

Proponents of “social infertility” ask: What if it’s your biography, rather than your body, that prevents you from having a child?