IFLG-Single-Women-in-Tunisia-Demand-Right-to-Freeze-Eggs-Rich-Vaughn

Single Women in Tunisia Demand Right to Freeze Eggs

Tunisia, a country once considered a leading advocate for women’s rights in the Arab world, now faces criticism as single women, constrained by an outdated law, demand the right to freeze their eggs in order to reproduce in the future.

Under current Tunisian law, single women are only permitted to undertake fertility preservation by freezing their eggs if they are undergoing medical treatment, such as chemotherapy, that would leave them infertile. As it stands, the law gives no consideration to the reality that the modern single woman may have social or work obligations limiting her availability during traditional childbearing years.

Though Tunisia has recently come under fire regarding reproductive rights, the small country of 10 million nestled between Algeria and Libya has long prided itself in being a pioneer for women’s rights in the region. After regaining its independence in 1956, Tunisia set out to include all persons in society, and, by the late 1950s, women had secured the right to vote and seek office. In modern times, considering many women in neighboring countries are still not allowed to vote, drive, and can still be stoned to death for adultery, Tunisian women have enjoyed freedoms far beyond any neighboring country.

Perhaps more importantly, Tunisian women are well-educated according to The New York Times, outnumbering men with university degrees and approaching par with their male counterparts as medical doctors and judges. Tunisian women also have much higher literacy rates compared to any other North African country. But even with the immense strides Tunisian women have made over the decades, there is a new discord among single Tunisian women, who are calling for this outdated assisted reproductive law to be amended to reflect the way modern women live. 

Reproductive Rights for Single Women No Longer Taboo Topic

Long considered a taboo subject, fertility preservation is now part of the public debate, thanks to social media giving more and more women an open platform to discuss the assisted reproductive disparity between married and single women.

Earlier this year, Tunisian singer Nermine Sfar sparked a heated debate by sharing with her almost 1 million Instagram followers her desire to one day become a mother and her plan to freeze her eggs. Even though the 31-year-old encourages other women who are pursuing careers to “preserve the dream of becoming a mother,” according to the African Insider, her team confirms that Sfar does not meet the criteria to freeze her eggs and, as a result, is not eligible to have the procedure.

 Sfar isn't the only single professional woman calling on the Tunisian parliament to change the outdated verbiage of the law. Television journalist Nayma Chermiti also shares her frustration in African Insider, stating, “I don’t see any logic in the law.”  The 40-year-old has considered the egg freezing procedure for more than two years, but the law is hindering her possible path to motherhood. Chermiti goes on to say the law “excludes healthy, single women who have professional responsibilities or financial constraints that mean they put off getting married or having children.”

Tunisian Women Opt for Education, Careers First

As more and more Tunisian women have chosen professional careers before marriage and children, the lives of Tunisian women have evolved.

Doctor Fethi Zhiwa, head of the fertility clinic at Aziza Othmana Hospital in Tunis, tells The National News that young, single women inquire about freezing their eggs almost daily and that the average age of marriage in the country is now 33 years old. Zhiwa, who was involved in the drafting of the existing law, believes the law has fallen “victim to its early approval,” even though when it was enacted in 2001 it was considered ahead of its time for reproductive rights in the region. Women may have evolved, but the law has fallen flat in keeping up with an advancing society, Zhiwa goes on to say in The National News.  “There is a discrepancy between biological age, which controls the age of reproduction, and social age, which controls the evolution of careers,” Zhiwa says.

As more and more single Tunisian women take the path of career first and motherhood second, the need for equal reproductive rights for all women regardless of marital status is more important than ever. With reproductive rights nonexistent in some neighboring countries and available only for married couples in others, Tunisia’s political establishment has an opportunity to reform this outdated law to reflect the advancing society in which its people have taken pride for so long, in which men and women have equal rights regardless of marital status.

The single women of Tunisia who are fighting for equal reproductive rights today are role models for women around the world, and a reminder for all of us that, even today here in the United States, reproductive rights are precious, fragile and never to be taken for granted.

 

 

Richard Vaughn
rich@iflg.net

Attorney Rich Vaughn is founder and principal of International Fertility Law Group, one of the world’s largest and best-known law firms focused exclusively on assisted reproductive technology, or ART, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), surrogacy, sperm donation or egg donation. Rich is co-author of the book “Developing A Successful Assisted Reproduction Technology Law Practice,” American Bar Association Publishing, 2017.

Peiya Wang
PEIYA WANG(王培娅)
Paralegal (律师助理)

Peiya Wang joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2015, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases and provides translation services for many of IFLG’s international clients. Peiya moved to the United States in 2012 to attend Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, receiving a Master of Science degree in Global Studies and International Affairs in 2014. Peiya moved to Los Angeles in 2015, received her paralegal certification from UCLA Extension, and obtained her second Master of Science degree in Legal Studies from Loyola Law School. Peiya relocated back to her hometown, Beijing, China in 2019 and works from IFLG’s Beijing office. When away from the office, Peiya is a dragon boat paddler and a ballroom dancer, where she favors Rumbas and Cha-chas. She is fluent in Mandarin and English.

Katie Deaquino
KATIE DEAQUINO
Senior Paralegal

Katie is a Senior Paralegal with IFLG and has dedicated over sixteen years to the areas of surrogacy and reproductive law. She received her Paralegal Certificate from Coastline Community College and has worked with some of the top law firms in the assisted reproduction community. Katie is also a commissioned Notary Public. With IFLG, Katie manages Surrogacy, Egg Donation, and Parental Establishment cases and provides support to other IFLG team members. Katie truly enjoys helping others build their families through assisted reproduction and is thankful she has had the rewarding experience of assisting IFLG clients. Katie often spends her free time with her Husband, four young children and her bulldog “Bella”.

Luis Sosa
LUIS SOSA
Paralegal

Luis R. Sosa joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2016, where he enjoys pursuing his passion for family and reproductive law. While working toward his bachelor’s degree at Florida International University which he received in 2013, Luis worked as a paralegal and legal assistant for family law litigation firms in Miami and Washington, D.C. As a paralegal and case manager for IFLG, Luis, who is bilingual in English and Spanish, manages surrogacy, egg donation and other reproductive law cases. Luis has worked for IFLG in both Los Angeles as well as San Francisco, and is currently based in Dallas, Texas. In addition to spending time with husband Randy and dog Marty, Luis enjoys being outdoors and appreciating the arts.

Alexander Espinoza
ALEXANDER ESPINOZA
Legal Assistant

Alexander joined IFLG as a legal assistant in 2019, where he manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases. Alex is bilingual in English and Spanish and has been in the legal field for 23 years. Alex is excited to join the IFLG team and pursuing his will to help others in the reproductive law process. In his spare time he loves spending time with his family and friends, being outdoors, road trips, loves music and dancing.

Toni Hughes
TONI BOONE
Paralegal

After receiving her B.S. in Business Management, Toni joined IFLG to pursue her dream of working in the legal field. As a Paralegal with over 10 years of experience in the assisted reproduction technology field, Toni is our Managing Paralegal, responsible for training and managing our paralegal staff. From drafting legal documents to assisting our clients with post-birth matters, Toni embraces the challenge of learning something new in this field each day. Besides spending time with her son, Jordan, Toni enjoys exploring new things, cooking, spending time with family and friends, and serving as a Youth Advisor for “Next Generation.”

KIM DEVEREAUX
Paralegal

Kim has over 30 years of experience in the legal field and has worked exclusively in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 1999. Kim is a senior case manager responsible for managing parental establishment cases and interacting with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorneys across the country. With three children of her own, Kim understands the importance of family and finds working in this area of law a rewarding experience.

Rich Vaughn
RICHARD B. VAUGHN
Founder

Attorney Rich Vaughn combined his personal passion as a father of twin boys born via assisted reproductive technology (ART) with more than 20 years of experience in business and technology law to build International Fertility Law Group. Today IFLG is one of the most successful and best-known law firms in the world focused exclusively on fertility law, helping thousands of intended parents through empathetic listening, compassionate guidance, and unmatched legal expertise. As an advocate for reproductive freedom, Rich also contributes his knowledge and time to improving the understanding and practice of ART law, most recently as a founder of and speaker at the first Cambridge University International Surrogacy Symposium held in June 2019, as immediate past chair of the American Bar Association ART Committee, and as a popular presenter to law schools, faculty and advocacy organizations all over the world.

Elizabeth Tamayo
ELIZABETH TAMAYO
Paralegal

Elizabeth received her Bachelors of Science degree in Criminal Justice from California State University of Los Angeles. Shortly after graduating, she continued her education at the University of California, Los Angeles where she obtained her Paralegal certificate. Elizabeth is fluent in Spanish and has been in the legal field since 2009. She is excited to be a part of the IFLG Team helping families realize their dreams.

Sunny Chien
SUNNY CHIEN
Paralegal

Sunny joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2017, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s international clients. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from California State University of Los Angeles, where she graduated cum laude. Sunny is bilingual in English and Mandarin and has extensive experience as a legal assistant and paralegal at Los Angeles-area law firms. She is excited to be part of the IFLG team. In her spare time, Sunny enjoys spending time with her family and their dog, going to the beach, cooking, and being outdoors.

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Molly O'Brien
MOLLY O'BRIEN
Partner

Fertility law attorney Molly O’Brien began working in the field of assisted reproduction technology (ART) in 2005, at an egg donation agency and a surrogacy agency where she became familiar with all aspects of in-vitro fertilization, egg donation and the financial aspects of surrogacy. Since becoming an attorney in 2011, Molly has drafted and negotiated surrogacy, egg donation, sperm donation embryo donation agreements for hundreds of her clients all over the world.

Phoebe Sadler
PHOEBE S. SADLER
Associate

Fertility law attorney Phoebe Sadler has a background in family law and has been practicing exclusively in the area of assisted reproduction technology (ART) law since 2018.

Rubina Aslanyan
RUBINA ASLANYAN
Paralegal

Rubina has an extensive background in the legal field as a paralegal in Family Law and has worked in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 2012. Her area of focus is in managing and assisting clients with surrogacy, egg donation, and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s domestic and international clients. During her spare time, Rubina enjoys spending time with her family and dog Bella, traveling and cooking.

Cara Stecker
CARA STECKER
Senior Paralegal

After receiving her paralegal certificate in 2005, Cara began working in assisted reproductive law. During the fifteen years Cara has worked in this field, she has gained a wide range of experience and knowledge that she uses to help better assist clients and those involved in the assisted reproductive journey. Cara’s primary roles involve managing parental establishment matters and coordination with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorney network, drafting contracts and parental establishment court documents and providing support to other team members. Cara finds great joy in being a small part of a team of caring people who help others achieve their dream of having a family. In her spare time, Cara enjoys spending time with her husband and three children, watching her children play the sports they love, and she enjoys, running, cycling and exploring the outdoors in the sun.

Stephanie Kimble
STEPHANIE KIMBLE
Paralegal

Stephanie received her BS in History and Political Thought from Concordia University Irvine in 2015 and her Paralegal Certificate from University of San Diego later that same year. She has been working as a Paralegal since 2016 in Family and Reproductive Law. She is excited to be part of International Fertility Law Group working on managing Surrogacy, Egg donation and Parental Establishment Cases.

Trish Pittman
TRISH PITTMAN
Assistant Financial Coordinator

With more than 20 years of experience in the field of accounting, Trish joined the IFLG team in 2019 as Assistant Financial Coordinator. Her client-facing focus at IFLG is to assist with all client trust accounting. Trish is the mother of two daughters and enjoys spending time teaching and learning new things from them. In her free time, she loves long walks in the park and reading suspense and mystery novels.

Elsa Jimenez
ELSA JIMENEZ
Legal Assistant

Elsa joined IFLG as a Legal Assistant in 2019, bringing more than 35 years of experience working in the legal profession (concentrating in tort and litigation matters). At IFLG she assists surrogates with their surrogacy and parental matters. The oldest of five siblings, born and raised in East Los Angeles to Mexican immigrant parents, Elsa loves “seeing the beauty of families forming” through assisted reproductive technology. She and her husband Carlos have four children and one grandson. Elsa enjoys jazz and ’80s music, being outdoors in nature, collecting teacups and tea pots, and spending time with her close-knit family.