Forty-one-year-old Chinese actress and filmmaker Xu Jinglei visited the U.S. in 2013 to freeze nine of her eggs, she recently revealed. "Probably this is the only cure for regrets in the world," she told national news magazine Vista in early July.
She was punning an old Chinese saying, "There's no medicine for regrets in the world."
By that, she meant that although life doesn't have an undo key, there are exceptions. Preserving a woman's eggs when they are still young allows women the possibility to have children even if they are past the age where doctors start citing concerns about the viability of pregnancy.
But she didn't undergo the procedure because she's eager to have children. "I just hope to maximize my reproductive rights with new and safe technologies in this new age," Xu said.
But for state-owned China Central Television (CCTV), Xu's choice set off alarm bells regarding China's birth rate.
"[W]hen it comes to the time of using the eggs, three certificates are needed at the same time: ID card, marriage certificate, as well as the permission card to give birth," posted CCTV on Sina Weibo on Sunday as a follow-up. The backlash was fierce.
Among more than 30,000 comments, the one that received the most likes came from "Killerwal": "Women cannot use their reproductive rights independently ... in your country, women are men's reproductive machines and nannies, in short, uteruses and slaves."
Some commenters do support the law, though. Their main argument is that a child will be miserable without an intact family or father's teaching. The supporters got popular writer Han Han speaking up and dragged into the conversation.
The law also doesn't seem to take those who don't want to get married into consideration. One user commented with disgust, "I'm just fucking frustrated, why must women marry guys to be considered normal? I really hate marriage and prefer being alone."
One user asked on behalf of her fellow women, "What is the basis and rationality of the ban?"
"But what if single women need to have an operation that might endanger their reproductive functions?" one user asked. "If they aren't allowed to freeze their eggs, how can we ensure their reproductive rights?"
So despite the risk of having to face the authorities' displeasure at waiting to have children, accentuating issues the one-child policy has caused, more and more women are traveling overseas to have their eggs frozen, reported state media CRI.
Beimeng Fu is a BuzzFeed News World Reporter covering China and is based in New York.
Contact Beimeng Fu at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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