Large and diverse group of people seen from above gathered together in the shape of two intersecting circles.

An Intersectional Analysis of Proposed Fertility Leave in England and Wales

By Elizabeth Chloe Romanis and Sabrina Germain

For people in England and Wales needing access to fertility treatment, economic barriers can be a huge hurdle. There are the direct costs of the treatment (some, but not all, of which are covered by the National Health Service). But there are also the less visible indirect costs associated with accessing these treatments. These include needing time off work to attend appointments, funding travel to and from fertility clinics, and having access to spaces at work to store and administer medication and take private phone calls. Indirect costs limit access to fertility treatment for structurally disadvantaged individuals in England and Wales. It is for this reason that a Private Member’s Bill currently being debated in the House of Commons, the Fertility Treatment (Employment Rights) Bill, which seeks to introduce fertility leave in the UK, should be welcomed (see earlier posts in this symposium by Dafni Lima and Manna Mostaghim).

Introducing a formal entitlement to “allow employees to take time off from work for appointments for fertility treatment; and for connected purposes” is a step in the right direction. We offer an intersectional reading of the Fertility Treatment (Employment Rights) Bill and consider how the benefits offered are likely to be stratified along class, race, sexuality, and gender lines. The Bill is well-meaning and highlights the critical issue of indirect barriers to fertility treatment in the workplace, but it is inattentive to structural issues affecting marginalized people experiencing infertility.

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A Liquid Nitrogen Bank Containing Sperm and Eggs Samples - ivf - in vitro fertilization, egg freezing.

Egg Freezing in Israel: Legal Framework and Women’s Viewpoints

By Yael Hashiloni-Dolev and Nitzan Rimon-Zarfaty

In 2009, Israel was one of the first countries to authorize social egg freezing, before it was declared non-experimental.

Israel is a highly pronatalist familistic society with relatively high marriage rates, low divorce rates, and the highest birth rate among OECD countries. Israeli pronatalism frames the favorable Israeli approach to fertility medicine and preservation. Currently, egg freezing is used for both medical and social reasons, and for transgender men.

Israeli policy views social egg freezing as primarily enabling, based on liberal ideology, “individual autonomy.”

Indeed, on one hand, social egg freezing has been praised as a revolutionary solution for women’s age-related fertility decline, thus providing women with liberating opportunities. On the other hand, it has been criticized for as oriented toward women’s bodies rather than toward taking away social obstacles to their full participation in the labor market and society in general. Giant corporations such as Apple and Facebook have offered funding for social egg freezing to their female employees while provoking ongoing bioethical and public debates regarding their implications, including; medicalization, (dis)empowerment, “appropriate” motherhood, medical risks, and success rates. This post considers these debates with a focus on the Israeli context.

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figurine with a void shape of a child and family of parents with a child. Surrogacy concept.

Forced Gifting: English Surrogacy, Gestational Labor, and the Inequality of Choice

By Lucas Taylor

Surrogacy, the practice in which one party (the surrogate) gestates a fetus on behalf of another pair/person (the intended parent/s or IPs), has sparked academic debates regarding gender equality and bodily integrity in the face of both commercial and altruistic agreements. I re-engage with this topic by challenging how the capacity of the surrogate to choose may be restricted under English and Welsh law. This post does not seek to argue against the practice of altruistic surrogacy. Instead, it seeks to highlight, through the lens of Social Reproduction Theory, that central to the legal framework is a highly gendered devaluation of labor which undermines the potential for surrogates to fully exercise choice in relation to their gestational labor.

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Red and White Lines of barrier tape.

Access to Reproductive Technology May Be Impeded by Workplace Law and Policy in South Africa

By Sheetal Soni

In this post, I will consider the position of assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) under South African law, as well as the challenges posed by legislation and policy.

Broadly speaking, ARTs have made it possible for people to create and expand their families where this was previously not possible. Obstacles to reproducing include natural barriers such as infertility, or being single or in a same-sex relationship. Options such as gamete donation, surrogacy, intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection and other technologies have allowed infertile individuals to better the odds of reproducing. However, as beneficial as these ART options may be, there are other barriers to creating that family; in South Africa, these barriers include unequal access to treatment, as well as workplace laws and policies that dissuade and discourage people from seeking treatment.

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Woman injecting hormones into her abdomen to stimulate follicles for IVF.

Parental Leave Has Proven It Works — It Is Time to Talk About Assisted Reproduction Leave

By Dafni Lima

A series of legal rules are designed to ensure that, when welcoming a child, parents are given the protection and support they need in relation to work. The same cannot be said for those dealing with challenges unique to assisted reproduction. This post argues that the protective rationale of parental leave should be extended to address the needs for those undergoing fertility treatment in the form of a new “assisted reproduction leave.”

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A Professional In Vitro Fertilisation Microscope with A Monitor in Background

Introduction to the Symposium: Reproductive Technologies and Workplace Equality

By Victoria Hooton and Elizabeth Chloe Romanis

Decisions about whether and how to reproduce are some of the most intimate and personal choices individuals and/or couples can make. For people struggling with involuntary childlessness, attempting to become a parent can involve some particularly complex decision making about technological assistance. Inevitably, these decisions touch upon all aspects of a person’s life. Their employment is no exception. People’s working status and working conditions, set against the broader context of their social circumstances, can have a huge influence on what decisions they feel able to make. This is particularly relevant for people who, for biological, social, or psychosocial reasons, need to use assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) to reproduce.

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Medical armored personnel carrier. Medical cross on the armor of an armored vehicle against the background of the flag of Ukraine at exhibition ARMS AND SECURITY - 2021. Kiev. Ukraine - June 18, 2021.

Sutures for Ukraine: The Medical Case for City Diplomacy

By Vrushab Gowda, Leslie Appleton, and Jesse Ehrenfeld

The war in Ukraine has brought nothing less than an unmitigated humanitarian catastrophe. Health care infrastructure has been deliberately — and systematically — targeted by Russian forces since the very outset of the invasion. Hospitals have been bombed, internal displacement has uprooted providers from their communities, and rail lines have come under sustained bombardment from cruise missiles, hindering the resupply of frontline towns. All of this has exacerbated the demands on an already fragile health care system, which strains to keep up. The Ukrainian people urgently need practical solutions.

Enter city diplomacy. In parallel to official channels of federal aid, American cities can play a decisive role in supporting their Ukrainian counterparts under threat. An “Adopt-a-City” campaign could leverage preexisting ties within a sister cities context (like Los Angeles and Kiev, if approved), which can be bolstered and intensified. Where these relationships do not exist, they can be created. New York could “adopt” Odessa. Atlanta, Kharkiv. Houston, Dnipro.

City departments of health would take center stage throughout all of this. Unlike howitzers, ammunition, electrical grids, and water supplies, medical aid is readily portable across international lines and can be concentrated in urban settings. An “Adopt-a-City” platform would provide a unified vehicle for channeling it, permitting American cities to render material and infrastructural assistance alike.

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Lima, Peru - March 8 2019: Group of Peruvian woman supporting the movement girls not mothers (niñas, no madres). A social campaign for abortion rights for underaged raped girls.

Grassroots Mobilization Needed to Defend Abortion Access

By Camila Gianella

On August 3, Kansas voters spurned the recent decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization by rejecting a proposed constitutional amendment that, in line with the ruling, aimed to ban abortion in the state.

What happened in Kansas shows the central role of social and political mobilization in securing abortion rights. In Kansas, Dobbs caused an unprecedented mobilization of women voters.

On the other hand, without such mobilization, access to abortion can suffer – even if the law protects sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). In the case of Peru, my country, which is often cited as an example of the internationalization of SRHR norms through supranational litigation, internationally recognized legal victories have often fallen short of the high expectations they created. Despite the success of international bodies, abortion rights in Peru have not been expanded. Further, there are attempts at the legislative level to advance a total ban on abortion.

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