Apple and Facebook have been making headlines for their new employee perk. Both companies, who are essentially in an “arms race” of employee benefits, will begin covering up to $20,000 for female employees to freeze their eggs.
Egg freezing, or oocyte cryopreservation, is a process in which a woman can have her eggs extracted and stored so that she may have them reimplanted in her uterus through IVF (in vitro fertilization) at a later date. Women who don’t want to or are unable to have children in their most fertile period can then have kids without the risk of high Down’s Syndrome rates and other conditions associated with later-aged eggs. But working women are not the only ones who freeze their eggs. Since the 1980’s, women with cancer have chosen to freeze their eggs as they may be damaged through chemotherapy. Each round costs approximately $10,000 (2 rounds are recommended) and yearly storage fees are around $500
This seems to be a good deal because a woman’s prime fertility period also coincides with her prime work years for career advancement. Often times, women in their 20’s are forced to make the difficult decision between work and kids.
Because of the highly personal nature of childbirth, this news has sparked an ethical debate across the nation.
Does this mean women can have it all – a family and career? Is this a misogynistic business move (some have referred to it as the “silencing of biological clocks”)? Is corporate America sending their female employers a message that work takes priority over a family and that both cannot be done together? These are all very important questions that we need to answer, especially as women are beginning to rely on cryopreservation as their Plan A for fertility and not Plan B.
A follow-up article with info on the various perspectives will be posted shortly!