A single Chinese woman on Tuesday began her final appeal against a hospital’s denial of access to freeze her eggs five years ago in a landmark case of female reproductive rights in the country.

Teresa Xu’s case has attracted extensive coverage in China, including by some state media, since she first brought her case to court in 2019. She lost her legal challenge last year in another court in Beijing, which ruled that the hospital did not violate the rights of women. in her decision.

The upcoming trial will have strong implications for the lives of many single women in China and the country’s changing demographics, especially after the world’s second-largest economy posted its first population decline in decades.

In China, the law does not explicitly prohibit single people from accessing services such as fertility treatment, simply stating that a “husband and wife” can have up to three children. But hospitals and other institutions, in practice, implement the regulations in a way that requires people to present a marriage license.

Xu, who wanted to keep her eggs so that she would have the option of having children later, is one of those who has difficulty accessing fertility treatment.

In 2018, Xu, then 30, had gone to a Beijing public hospital to inquire about freezing her eggs. But after an initial checkup, she was told that she couldn’t proceed without a marriage certificate.

According to the judgment it received last year, the hospital argued that egg freezing poses certain health risks. He said that egg freezing services were only available to women who couldn’t get pregnant naturally, and not to healthy patients.

But he also stated that delaying the pregnancy could bring risks to the mother during pregnancy and «psychological and social problems» if there is a large age difference between the parents and their child.

After Tuesday’s hearing, Xu told reporters that the denial constituted a violation of her right to bodily autonomy, and she chose to continue fighting because this issue is very important to single women.

«I’ve also grown a lot as the case evolves, I don’t want to give up easily,» he said.

It is not clear when the court will hand down the sentence, he said.