Is 'Egg-Freezing' Haram and Why are some Arab Women Postponing Pregnancy?

Published September 3rd, 2019 - 10:04 GMT
(AFP/FilePhoto/Egypt)
(AFP/FilePhoto/Egypt)

A video of Reem Mehanna announcing her decision to freeze eggs has sparked a conversation regarding more women who have been recently using this technique in Egypt and the Middle East.


The story started when Reem posted a video on her personal Facebook profile to talk about the decision she took two years ago to freeze her eggs publicly in a step to encourage more women into doing it and to break taboos and social norms.

“I decided to announce publicly that I had frozen my eggs. YES, I had frozen my eggs […] when I asked the doctor to make this surgery, he was shocked, telling me ‘I’d never heard this request from a girl in Egypt,” Reem said.

On the reasons that led her to take such a decision, Reem spoke about the pressure she faces to get married before 40 in order to be able to have children, however, she is postponing this decision until she meets the right person, which left her with one choice, to freeze her eggs.

“I froze my eggs for a simple reason that I want to get married after the age of 30 to build my career and [I see] this is appropriate for me. I cannot guarantee when exactly I will get married [...]; I might meet my future husband at 46 years old,” she added. 

In the 4-minute Arabic-language video, Reem says she had undergone an abdominal ova freezing surgery that would save her eggs for another 20 or 30 years without expiring.

The video has gone viral and Reem’s story has led many Arabs to talk about the current economic and social conditions that changed the average marriage age for both men and women drastically for the last few years.

Reem has also found support by many who hailed her courage to talk about going through such an experience in the Middle East.

For Reem, “there are no appropriate men [for marriage-responsibilities] but at the same time, girls need to be mothers one day. So I see this matter would encourage girls to wait until they find a suitable husband,” she added.

While the egg freezing process is still a controversial topic in many countries in the Middle East and has been labeled “taboo” for religious reasons, many religious bodies in Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, and Lebanon have issued their opinions on it.

For Egypt’s Dar al-Iftaa, the Islamic body concerned with issuing fatwas, the egg-freezing process is not prohibited, according to their website. It could be “a complementary process of Vitro fertilization, which was allowed by different schools of Islamic jurisprudence for the married couples”.

While the egg freezing process is still a controversial topic in many countries in the Middle East and has been labeled “taboo” for religious reasons, many religious bodies in Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, and Lebanon have issued their opinions on it.

In other countries like Algeria and Jordan, egg freezing is allowed with a few religious regulations like that it should be used only in marriage and should be fertilized by the husband’s sperm. In the UAE, women are not allowed to go through the egg freezing process unless they are undergoing chemotherapy, or suffering an illness that will affect the woman’s ability to have kids in the future.

On the other hand, Lebanon and Tunisia are believed to be the only Arab countries that allow egg freezing for married and non-married women.


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