Bioethics Blogs

The Imperative Character of ‘Social’ Egg Freezing

Kylie Baldwin raises concerns about the potentially coercive nature of ‘social’ egg freezing.

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When the news broke that Facebook and Apple would soon be offering egg freezing to their female employees as part of their health insurance package, I was not surprised. I have had concerns about the implications of ‘social’ egg freezing for some time. In December 2011, I gave a presentation to my peers and academic staff, in which I asked my audience to time travel with me to the year 2041 where I offered speculation about a world in which egg freezing for age-related fertility decline had become routinized, normalized and commercialized. While I imagined and speculated wildly about young women routinely freezing eggs in their 20s, followed by elective sterilization to protect against unwanted pregnancy, I also spoke at some length about what I felt were more grounded and realistic concerns about the implications of this technology for women in the workplace and in society more broadly. I contemplated a future where employers paid for women to freeze their eggs. While on the positive, I considered how this could lead to a narrowing of the pay gap between men and women, on the negative, I considered the possibility that such normalization of egg freezing would lead to an expectation on the part of employers for women to engage with the technology and, by extension, doubt about the work ethic and career commitment of those who resisted its use. I also considered that women might feel pressured by their employers to delay motherhood past the time they would ideally choose.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.