Egg-freezing benefits are a positive step

Apple and Facebook set a precedent with the benefit, which isn’t meant to belittle.

Brooke Bovee

Freezing eggs isn’t about putting your chicken eggs in the freezer and saving them for later, but it’s pretty close.

Egg freezing, a process in which a woman’s eggs are extracted, frozen and stored until she is ready for pregnancy, is now a “perk” that some companies are starting to offer for their workers. Eggs can later be thawed, fertilized and placed back into the uterus.

Apple and Facebook both recently announced they would begin to cover $20,000 of the procedure’s costs. Many egg-freezing centers charge between $6,500 and $15,000 per cycle, and it’s important to note that some women need more than one cycle to make sure that they get enough usable eggs to freeze.

This procedure is relatively new, as the American Society of Reproductive Medicine lifted its experimental label two years ago.

For me, this raises questions as to why large companies like Apple and Facebook were so quick to offer egg freezing as a benefit. Freezing eggs isn’t a common thing to do, and it’s not the same as, for example, providing employees with dental benefits.

Glosswitch, a feminist blogger, argues that freezing eggs is a way to make women function more like men by avoiding unplanned pregnancies and that companies offering to pay for the procedure perpetuate the stereotype that women are perceived as “weak and inadequate.”

According to this argument, companies seem to be saying that you cannot be both a successful mother and a career woman. I personally can’t understand why a young, healthy woman would want to freeze her eggs in the first place just to have a pregnancy later in life, as women are less fertile once they reach their late 30s and 40s, and pregnancies later in life have a higher risk of complications.

But despite this information and this feminist’s argument, Silicon Valley, where many of the world’s largest technology companies are located, is racing to hire employees with the best skills and talent.

By providing a diverse range of benefits — including payment help for freezing eggs — these companies are more likely to attract top talent.

Because egg freezing is specifically geared toward women, it may be that feminists like Glosswitch have overlooked the possibility that Apple and Facebook are offering this benefit to attract more women to work for their companies. It’s not like providing this benefit is a requirement for all companies.

Apple and Facebook starting to pay for egg freezing is a good thing because it sets a precedent for other companies that could follow suit. In addition, it could clear up some of the controversy surrounding recent health care reform. If more companies begin to offer reproductive benefits including egg freezing, then it takes away the responsibility of the government being the sole provider of this societal benefit.

Egg freezing does seem like an odd benefit to offer, but the intention is not to belittle women. It’s to take a step in a different direction and attract talented women by providing a diverse portfolio of benefits.