While the literature on oncofertility decision-making was central to the bioethics debate on social egg freezing when the practice emerged in the late 2000s, there has been little discussion juxtaposing the two forms of egg freezing since. This article offers a new perspective on this debate by comparing empirical qualitative data of two previously conducted studies on medical and social egg freezing. We re-analysed the interview data of the two studies and did a thematic analysis combined with interdisciplinary collaborative auditing for empirical ethics projects. Despite their different contexts, major similarities in women's decision-making and reasoning were found. We developed two main common themes. Firstly, women felt a clear need to plan for future options. Secondly, they manipulated decision-times by postponing definitive decisions and making micro-decisions. The comparison highlights that the passage of time and the preservation of future choice seems to permeate all aspects of the patient experiences in both studies. As a result of considering real-world lived experiences, we suggest that there are many overlaps in women's reasoning about egg freezing regardless of why they are making a decision to freeze. These overlaps are morally relevant and thus need to be further integrated into the existing arguments that have been canvassed in the flourishing egg freezing and fertility preservation debates across the field, and in policy and practice globally.
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The work of MDP for this article was supported by the Flemish Foundation for Scientific Research (FWO-Vlaanderen), grant number 1166119 N. AP acknowledges the support of the Centre for Health and Society, at Aston University.
- Qualitative research
- Empirical ethics
- Respect for autonomy
- Social egg freezing