Abrahamic traditions and egg freezing: Religious Women's experiences in local moral worlds

Marcia C. Inhorn, Daphna Birenbaum-Carmeli, Mira D. Vale, Pasquale Patrizio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In this article, we elucidate how elective egg freezing (EEF) has been received within the three Abrahamic traditions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—and how these religion-specific standpoints have affected the EEF experiences of women who self-identify as religiously observant. Through an analysis of religious women's narratives, the study explores the “local moral worlds” of religious women who chose to freeze their eggs for non-medical reasons. It draws on ethnographic interviews with 14 women in the United States and Israel who had completed at least one EEF cycle, and who were part of a large, binational study that interviewed, between 2014 and 2016, 150 women who pursued EEF. These religious women, who were all highly educated, faced a particular challenge in finding appropriate marriage partners. Feeling pressured but still hopeful to marry and create large families, the women used EEF to extend their reproductive timelines and reduce their anxieties. As the study showed, the women reinterpreted or reconciled religious restrictions on the use of EEF in various ways, believing that their ultimate pursuit of religiously sanctioned reproduction justified the means. This study, which is the first to compare Jewish, Christian, and Muslim women's experiences of EEF, illustrates how this novel technology is now shaping the local moral worlds of religious women.

Original languageEnglish
Article number112976
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Volume253
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank Jennifer DeChello, Jeannine Estrada, Rose Keimig, Sandee Murray, Tasha Newsome, and Ruoxi Yu for various forms of editorial, research, study recruitment, and transcription assistance. We are grateful to our colleagues Martha Dirnfeld, Joseph Doyle, Norbert Gleicher, Arik Kahane, Dror Meirow, Daniel Seidman, and Lynn Westphal, for helping to make this ethnographic study possible. This study was funded by a grant from the US National Science Foundation, BCS-1356136, PI Marcia C. Inhorn and Co-PI Pasquale Patrizio.

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank Jennifer DeChello, Jeannine Estrada, Rose Keimig, Sandee Murray, Tasha Newsome, and Ruoxi Yu for various forms of editorial, research, study recruitment, and transcription assistance. We are grateful to our colleagues Martha Dirnfeld, Joseph Doyle, Norbert Gleicher, Arik Kahane, Dror Meirow, Daniel Seidman, and Lynn Westphal, for helping to make this ethnographic study possible. This study was funded by a grant from the US National Science Foundation , BCS-1356136 , PI Marcia C. Inhorn and Co-PI Pasquale Patrizio.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier Ltd

Keywords

  • Christianity
  • Elective egg freezing
  • Fertility preservation
  • Islam
  • Israel
  • Judaism
  • Religion
  • United States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science

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