Tampines GRC Member of Parliament (MP) Cheng Li Hui on Thursday (25 Feb) urged the Government to consider allowing healthy women in Singapore to voluntarily freeze their eggs here, with proper legislation and frameworks in place.
Based on her knowledge, Ms Cheng shared several cases of women in Singapore going abroad to freeze their eggs, as it is currently prohibited in the country except for women with specific medical disorders.
For example, women who are about to undergo cancer treatment may freeze their eggs for future use.
Ms Cheng asked the House, “What about voluntary egg freezing? Is there room for a rethink on this long-standing policy of not allowing healthy females to freeze their eggs?”
The MP went on to question, “Why do we create this environment where healthy women have to bear the costs and risks of doing this procedure overseas?”
One of the suggestions she proposed in terms of legislation and framework to allow voluntary egg freezing in Singapore is to make counselling mandatory for women who intend to embark on this procedure.
This would be to ensure that they are fully informed of the costs, risks, and financial requirements of the procedure as well as of the notion that it does not guarantee conception later on.
Ms Cheng went on to suggest that legislation could be put in place to prevent abuse of the procedure such as implementing an age limit of 40 years old—as the quality of eggs deteriorates drastically beyond the age of 35—and requiring that a couple be legally married in order for thawing and fertilization to take place.
Ms Cheng also noted, “With voluntary egg freezing prohibited here, It also means we have no egg banks. This means ladies of a certain age or with poor egg quality will have to source for donor eggs overseas or adopt.”
On top of that, Ms Cheng also highlighted the high cost of in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) procedures in Singapore and how IVF co-funding only allows two rounds of co-funding if the process is commenced before the age of 40.
The MP urged the Government to consider “progressively reducing the core funding amount with age but extend some help to healthy couples who just passed the age of 40”.
She also suggested allowing MediSave to be used for fertility health checks or even fully subsidised by the government in the first three years of marriage as a way to promote understanding of the issue and encourage couples to seek reproductive assistance sooner rather than later.
Apart from the high cost and lack of egg freezing opportunities here, Ms Cheng also brought up the fact that people who have had trouble with IVF could not obtain a pre-implantation genetic screening locally unless they have a defective gene.
“This testing and screening for the correct number of chromosomes can improve the chances of success, but this is not readily available here,” she noted.
“We have had a pilot project for three years. When will it go mainstream?” She questioned. “We should allow more to screen the embryos if they have suffered a miscarriage provided no gender selection.”