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Egyptian woman's egg-freeze decision creates debate on taboo subject

A woman's public confession that she had her eggs frozen has shocked Egypt and prompted public debate about an issue rarely discussed in the highly conservative society.
A doctor examines a pregnant woman at a hospital in the province of Fayoum, southwest of Cairo, Egypt February 19, 2019. Picture taken February 19, 2019. REUTERS/Hayam Adel - RC15CBE129E0

Reem Mehanna caused an uproar in mid-August when she announced in a Facebook video that she had frozen her eggs two years earlier. Mehanna, 38, had sought to increase her chances of having children when "I get married after building a career." The video, which went viral in Egypt, sparked wide controversy over an issue considered taboo in a very conservative society.

 Mehanna's revelation also spurred a public debate about the ethics of fertility treatments when not medically necessary in a country where young women face enormous pressure from their parents and relatives to get married and have children before they turn 30. The topic of egg freezing, rarely publicly discussed before, had raised eyebrows when it came up in the TV drama "Sabae Gar" ("Seventh Neighbor"), broadcast last year on the privately owned Egyptian CBC channel. The series drew criticism on social media as Hala, one of the main characters, contemplates preserving her eggs for use when she is better situated to have children, "regardless of whether or not I am married at the time," she tells her doctor. She later proposes to a young man, telling him she needs his help to have a baby.

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