This week, the television channel, NBC News, disclosed that Facebook and Apple were financing the freezing of employees’ oocytes in order to delay pregnancies (Gènéthique press review on October 15th, 2014). Across the Atlantic, this technique is claimed to have already led to nearly 5,000 births.
Interviewed on this practice by the lesechos.fr website, Laurent Alexandre, head of a DNA sequencing company, DNAVision, believes that it is “a clear illustration of the way in which in-vitro fertilisation, set to become the principal method of fertilisation, has become a feature of everyday life. The freezing of oocytes is a step further towards embryo selection, which we are heading towards at a rate of knots”. We are fast reaching the point where, in the second part of this XXIst century, fertilisation by any means other than in vitro “will be regarded as incongruous“.
What do the two multinationals have to say on this matter? Comfort. “Of course“, explained L. Alexandre, but as soon as an embryo is stored, “it gives you the option to make a choice in the future. It is only an interim step because the next stage is to produce ovules from iPS cells – a technology that has already been experimented upon in animals and which will be developed in humans from 2020-2025.“
Initially reserved to sterility, in-vitro fertilisation is gradually being extended, L. Alexandre went on. “Homosexuality then embryo diagnosis in the case of rare diseases and the storage of oocytes for peace of mind“. This is followed by “the generalisation of sequencing and embryo selection for ‘eugenic 2.0’ purposes. In-vitro fertilisation is becoming increasingly commonplace. The ultimate technology will be the artificial uterus but this will not arrive until after 2050”.
Finally, for the President of DNAVision, “people are prepared to accept any technological transgression to stay younger, suffer less and have a longer life“. Although he “does not accept this trend“, L. Alexandre claims that “it seems inevitable.”
Also questioning this technique, Le Figaro santé states that although the freezing of oocytes “substantially increases the chances of later pregnancies, the probability of women over 42-43 years of age becoming pregnant under these conditions is nevertheless lower than that of a 30 year-old woman endeavouring to fall pregnant physiologically“. Furthermore, this practice is not devoid of risks: arterial hypertension, premature births, etc.
There is no consensus of opinion regarding this practice in France. Although the French National College of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians is in favour of the convenience freezing of oocytes, this view is not shared by the Fédération des Centres d’étude et de conservation des oeufs et du sperme (CECOS) (Federation of Centres for the Study and Preservation of Eggs and Sperm) which fears that this type of authorisation “encourages late pregnancies”. Furthermore, the CECOS Federation “is concerned about the excessive medicalisation of procreation“.