Debating Matters: ‘Social egg-freezing empowers women’

Battle of Ideas festival 2023, Saturday 28 October, Church House, London


Debating Matters is a sixth-form debating competition that has become renowned for its rigorous and intellectually challenging format – one that values substance over style and getting to grips with real-world issues. This is a special one-off showcase debate for the Battle of Ideas festival. The competitors are school students whose challenge is to think through the thorny moral issues at the heart of every Debating Matters motion and the audience are sure to enjoy the high standard of debate.

Egg-freezing is the process of harvesting eggs from a woman’s ovaries, freezing them unfertilised and storing them for later use. Until recent years, it was used primarily for women undergoing treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy, which can affect fertility. But the debate has now move on to include ‘social’ egg freezing – that is, women with no medical issues who simply opt to freeze their eggs as a fertility choice, putting motherhood ‘on ice’ until they decide they’re ready.

Discussion about the pros and cons of social egg-freezing has increasingly appeared in the news over the last decade. Technological advances, celebrity endorsement and corporate assistance make the procedure more widely known and available. In the UK, the issue has received particular attention as campaigners successfully lobbied for the time limit on egg freezing to be increased from 10 years to 55 years.

However, questions have been raised about the effectiveness of the social egg-freezing with some research suggesting the success rate for women trying to conceive this way is just 18 per cent and should be regarded as a ‘lottery ticket’ rather than an ‘insurance policy’. Furthermore, many suggest it is just a technical fix for broader social economic problems, such as the trouble people have finding partners willing to commit to children or an economy that makes it difficult for women to have a career as well as have and raise kids.

So, does social egg-freezing inspire a positive culture shift giving women control over their own bodies? Or does it have a negative impact on how we view motherhood and lead to more tired, older mums who have prioritised their career over having a child?


Proposing the motion: New City College

Speakers: Noor Ebrahim and Chidinma Kalu

Teacher: Toby Marshall

Opposing the motion: Richmond upon Thames College

Speakers: Monica Pirvu and Lauren Faulds

Teacher: Kasim Agpak


Linda Murdoch

Dr Günes Taylor

Professor Sir Simon Wessely