Employers offering to pay for egg freezing: empowerment or enslavement?

This article has been circulating online today:  Apple, Facebook to Women Employees: Keep Working, We’ll Pay to Freeze Your Eggs.

Immediately after I read it,  I posted my reaction to my Facebook wall:

As much as I believe in a women’s ability to choose her life path, I struggle with this concept. I would never recommend fertility treatments to anyone who did not medically need them. IVF (or even egg freezing) is not easy on a woman physically or mentally. If we are going to approach fertility from the scientific standpoint that age doesn’t matter, then maybe we should first consider Government funding for those who medically suffer from the disease know as infertility. It’s difficult for me to grasp the concept of my treatment not being funded, yet companies are stepping up to encourage women to delay their fertility which poses higher risks and no guarantees. On top of that, what kind of message are we sending to women? Can you not have a successful career and become a mother at the same time?”

I should not be as surprised as I am. 

I would love to read the internal publications that promote these programs. I would love to read the fine print and see how much they are actually funding, what are the caveats, what are the loopholes.

This is not empowerment. This is another sign of society condemning women for embracing their femininity, their womanhood and their birthright to be a mother.

This is enslaving women to their jobs. It’s taking away their choice to become a mother when THEY desire. It’s potentially ostracising them if they do not pursue their career path first.

Because as much as they SAY that won’t happen, we all know it will. 

They try to sell it as a positive choice, but really they are promoting a high-risk scenario. They are encouraging women to look to science to solve their fertility woes instead of letting their bodies do what they were naturally built to do. They are encouraging putting drugs in your system and enduring invasive procedures “just because it’s easier for your career”.

Is it really easier for you? Who paints the picture of what fertility treatments are ACTUALLY like? 

The disease of infertility leads so many of us to pursue treatment. Yes, we have a choice to accept treatment or not, but for most of us, it’s not a matter of choice. We will not conceive without fertility treatments.

It’s too soon to be promoting “fertility treatments by choice” when infertility is barely recognized and hardly funded.

What will happen to the infertility industry if a drawn our fertility timeline becomes the societal norm?

I think we need to take a step back here. I’m all about women’s right and women’s choice, but this jaded infertile feels like this issue needs some more thought put into it first.

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49 thoughts on “Employers offering to pay for egg freezing: empowerment or enslavement?

  1. I saw that too… My first impression was disgust. I know of some women who are looking into having their eggs frozen, but mostly because they don’t know if they want to have children or are not yet ready or with the right person yet, but don’t want to lose their chance, or some variation of these reasons. If my employer helped pay for fertility treatments, that is one thing, but to fund it SO THAT I hold off on having kids?? That’s just whack. I would never make that kind of sacrifice for a job. We all know how quickly any employer, especially a large employer like these, makes job cuts when needed… I could never fathom feeling that much loyalty. No way man.

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  2. Yuck. This whole concept is so off base to me. I have so many thoughts about this and totally agree this is enslavement and puts family planning in the hands of our employers!? No way. People just have no clue what kind of an undertaking egg retrieval is. This just crosses the line. I can’t even put together a coherent thought because this is just so asinine.

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  3. I don’t know-I have mixed feelings, because I read that both companies already pay for infertility treatments, so they’re just adding this on and covering women who want to delay their childbearing. While obviously that’s not a choice I would make, it would be nice to work for a company that does give you so much coverage and freedom about reproduction.

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  4. Minor detail is that freezing your eggs is not like just freezing a real child for later when you want it. This would mean IVF and not a guarantee as too many of us know. I hope these women have some realization of that before they jump on this.

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  5. i think that for the single woman in her 30s, with no potential partner yet, this would be very attractive (it would be for many of my friends in this situation). but yes, there certainly better be a lot of education on the risks of stims, egg retrieval, and the likelihood of eggs surviving the freezing and thawing. i recently urged a friend in her late 30s who’s getting married next summer, to not just freeze her eggs,but have her future husband’s sperm fertilize them to maximize their chances of success (he is currently in med school). on the plus side, i would assume that both companies do fully cover infertility treatment, including IVF.

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    • In the end, I think it all boils down to better education about fertility. I can support the concept totally, but society is so uneducated on how their reproductive systems even work. If women were more informed, they could make educated decisions about their reproductive health and future fertility.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. You said everything I would have. It’s disgusting and frightening to say the least. What’s worse is that if I wasn’t so painfully aware of infertility and those who it effects I would have seen this as “positive progression”. I hope people will come at this from a realistic and healthy perspective.

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  7. I think I might have actually done this in my early 20s. I knew I had years of school left, and if I knew what I knew now about the age of the egg being such an important factor…

    Then again, in my early 20s I was never going to get married or settle down. Boring!

    But it does piss me off how easy and straightforward everyone thinks this is. I hope women actually considering it really know the actual math.

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  8. Thank you for posting this. I had not read or heard about it. I share your concern and outrage. As a survivor of a not fertility- or family-friendly former monolith employer this gives me the major creeps and makes me want to throat punch the people pushing this misogynist agenda.

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  9. Though this could be “well intentioned”, I think one needs to look in to the ethical ramifications of encouraging such treatment. Though offering this option to women may not necessarily be the same as encouraging women to do this, I do believe there should be intense medical counseling and education before women choose this route. There are serious ramifications to women who put off what their bodies are meant to do in their 20’s and 30’s. The increase in cancer risk alone is astounding, not to mention increasing those risks by potentially encouraging women too engage in their fertility later in life. Sometimes this is just how life lands, but to actually be a part of purposefully waiting to engage in your fertility when there are benefits to having children at a younger age, and potential harmful hormonal effects to women later in life is an ethical problem for me. Sure, you can wait to have children…but you should know this increases your chances for cancer (and other medical complications). It’s a tough one.

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  10. I don’t think I agree here…..I think it should be your choice (kind of like abortion), and if your health insurance pays for it and that’s what you want to do what’s the harm?? They also pay for infertility treatments and/or adoption….which I thought was an awesome benefit.

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  11. I sort of thought the same thing like, it sounded good at first but I wondered if they work in the stipulation that you can’t use the eggs til you leave or a set amount of time. While it’s good that they are recognizing the value of recruiting women, I really wish companies could start by offering decent amounts of paid maternity leave like many of the other countries out there i.e. Sweden style with its 13 months

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  12. I read the following quote from an Apple executive that makes me feel like perhaps the media is misdirecting their excitement.

    “We continue to expand our benefits for women, with a new extended maternity leave policy, along with cyropreservation and egg storage as part of our extensive support for infertility treatments … We want to empower women at Apple to do the best work of their lives as they care for loved ones and raise their families.”

    Egg freezing is certainly the more “novel” of all of the benefits featured above, but it is absolutely not the most important. Extended maternity leave, extensive support for infertility treatments… I kind of feel like they’re headed in the right direction. Once again, it seems that the media has zeroed in on the most sensational bit and left out the parts that are actually really meaningful.

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    • Typical with mainstream media. I’d still love to see their full policy surrounding women’s health benefits. I do believe there would be many progressive items in it to balance out the concept of promoting delayed conception.

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  13. Honestly, I can see both sides. but I actually think offering the benefit is great. I’m not sure where everyone else is from, but I am an executive working and living in the silicon valley. I work 15 minutes away from Apple and live 20 minutes away from Facebook. Like most benefits, such as reimbursable education, I think the option is great. The fact that they will pay for it… I don’t see how it can be bad. If those that don’t want to take advantage of it, then don’t – then no harm no foul. I know about 7-10 girls personally that have worked very hard for their careers and have all turned to IVF to expand their families. Unfortunately, without those careers – they probably couldn’t afford IVF treatment to begin with. Plus, anything to get advanced reproductive techniques in the media and mainstream gets my thumbs-up!

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  14. Everyone here has made some really great points, in reading through these comments I can definitely see both sides. In my opinion my first reaction was this is great news. These companies already provide a lot of maternal, prenatal, and infertility benefits to their employees and adding this egg freezing option seems like a logical step. Being that I am 34 years old and facing the possibility of having to use a donor egg to become pregnant, I would have loved to have known egg freezing was even an option 10 years ago, let alone have my insurance pay for it (as it stands my insurance, like many, covers nothing for infertility or IVF treatments 😦 ). On the other hand, I can see how this can be one more thing that gives people a false impression of just how serious fertility issues are. Egg freezing is not a sure thing. Neither is IVF. I know quite a few women in my age range and older who just shrug and say if they have any problems getting pregnant naturally they’ll just do IVF, as if it’s a cure-all. People do need to be more educated on this topic for sure. But in all sincerity I think it’s a great thing that the option is even there, and greater still to have the option with the insurance benefit.

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    • I totally agree with everything you said. I’ve enjoyed hearing everyone’s opinion of this topic. Although my initial reaction was more negative, I think it could be a positive step forward if the circumstances are legit.

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  15. As someone who has endured hostile stigma re: miscarriage at one of my internships, my knee-jerk reaction is WTF…but now I will actually read the article and form a less emotional opinion! (:

    “It’s too soon to be promoting ‘fertility treatments by choice’ when infertility is barely recognized and hardly funded”—so sharply, intelligently said. You rock.

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  16. I mostly find this creepy. On one hand, I think it is great that more employers are covering various reproductive treatments for women. I had to put off some of my own tests and treatments until this year because my employer’s insurance explicitly didn’t cover ARTs in 2013. (Thankfully, they changed this from 2014 onward.)

    This is also “positive” because tech industries have a lot of trouble attracting and retaining female talent. It’s a really big problem, so I’m glad to see that they are evaluating the specific needs of their female work base.

    (And here is where the shoe drops…)

    My biggest, overwhelming concern is that offering to freeze eggs doesn’t actually resolve the problem- that women are disproportionately impacted in their careers when they have children. Our society still expects women to assume more of parental responsibilities, and dissuades men from taking a larger role. Pay raises and promotions are negatively impacted once a woman has children– and often has the exact opposite impact on men’s careers . That’s a large reason many women put off childbearing– I know that’s part of why I did.

    If companies like FB and Google and whoever wanted to address the issue of women leaving their industry, they would think more about parental leave for ladies AND gents. They would introduce more family-friendly policies, offer onsite childcare, and take a closer look at their advancement trends.

    Instead, they write a check and run away from the larger problem.

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  17. Okay, just read it: Want to say something about this:

    ” In highly-competitive and thriving Silicon Valley in particular, young women are steadily becoming a larger part of the workforce and are choosing to dedicate their young adulthood to getting ahead in their careers. One cited reason for *****America’s gender pay gap is that women fall behind men in their careers when they take time off to raise children. This often happens during a point in their lives when their earning potential is about to climb much higher, which puts women at a disadvantage when they re-enter the workforce.**** Facebook and Apple, then, are providing an opportunity for women have more choices for family planning and therefore rise up more easily within company ranks.”

    Let’s address the gender pay gap by giving women the option of freezing their eggs and POSSIBLY getting pregnant with those frozen eggs years down the line? That’s kind of insane. The risks are huge. Egg freezing is not a silver bullet. There is always the possibility that the woman will not have a successful pregnancy from the frozen eggs. And if she waits to try, she won’t have any options other than whatever she managed to produce during her egg-freezing cycle. And then what? Where does that leave her?

    The commodification of fertility is not the answer to the gender pay gap for goodness sake! The answer to gender discrimination in the workplace is companies change the way they hire and support their workers, men and women, throughout their lifespan—we’re not work machines, we’re mammals. Giant, wealthy companies like Apple and Facebook certainly have the power and funds to create more evolved policies, ones that foster, make room for, nurture, family-making alongside, in tandem with, career-making.

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  18. Also: This policy fosters competition between women who are willing to take the risk on frozen eggs and women who are not willing to take that risk. Women who are willing to delay child-rearing, and women who are not willing to delay child-rearing. Women who are willing to risk losing their change to have biological children and woman who are not willing to take that risk. I don’t think I’m employing the slippery slope argumentatve fallacy here—I think that’s inevitably what would happen, as a matter of course.

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  19. Wow, this is interesting… Frustrates me because they are so willing to pay for this for those who are choosing it electively. Simply for convenience sake. Then there are people who would likely never be capable of conceiving with out it and it’s not even close to covered by insurance. I understand there are some insurance policies out there that cover it, but heck, in my state, I can’t find one. This brings up a lot of emotions. I can’t decide if this is great of these companies to offer that, or a slap in the face to those of us who need it and fork out the money from our own hard working, career driven, successful pockets! And lets be honest, $20,000, that’s generous, but will it REALLY cover the costs associated with all the little details, drugs, procedure, surrogacy, FETs. BUT, then again, maybe this really is just the start of door opening up for conversation about ART, elective or necessary.

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  20. I disagree- and maybe this is because I live in Singapore where egg freezing isn’t even legally allowed (except with medical rationale, like cancer) and where many companies still label pregnancy, maternity and cancer testing voluntary and thus don’t cover or pay for it.

    Benefits don’t imply that everyone should do chemotherapy or get a pacemaker, they exist so that if you have a condition (my mother for example, was early menopausal at 38, as I may well be- I don’t know if I would have been brave or far-sighted enough to have actually done it, but I wish that both she and I would have had the knowledge and opportunity for egg freezing when we could have), you can maximise your options, with the company’s support, if you Choose to.

    It would be cynical and cruel to portray that the company has a forcible neutering program for crazies- this is a luxury of provision that Apple and FB’s fat profits affords, to not consider staff as just costs, many of the women may work for Apple only temporarily but will always have the advantage of their 22 year old eggs. Provision for fertility/IVF and egg freezing as choices- is progressive.

    Weylin
    http://www.wishingawayinfertility.blogspot.com

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    • I read an article last night that stayed of the 30-31% of women who work at Apple and Facebook over 400 leave mid career to pursue motherhood. I get the benefit from the companies perspective if it is helping them with retention too. That is very interesting about the benefits in Singapore. Proves that women’s health is definitely a world – wide issue.

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