Catholic Medical Quarterly Volume 64(4) November 2014

Faith in Medicine

Outrage as Apple and Facebook  fund egg storage for women.

pregnant womanThere was widespread concern at the announcement in October that Apple and Facebook had decided to give employees £12500 plus £3000 per year to freeze their eggs because bosses want to keep them working longer [1]

The national press raised a number of objections to this including a suggestion that the Apple and Facebook policy reinforced the belief that women need a career break to have babies.

Our objections to the new policy are far more profound. First of all we are bound to worry about the reality that egg storage leads to IVF. There are substantial ethical concerns around IVF as women should be aware of low rates of achieved pregnancy after implantation of fertilised eggs. We know that the large majority of eggs fertilised outside of the womb die rather than making it to child birth.

But in addition to that, we must question the way in which giving money to women to store eggs, encourages a delay in age at pregnancy, leads to older parents, and undoubtedly will lead to many women finding that in the end they die childless. If you encourage women to use a technique that has low success in terms of childbirth in the hope that all will be well when they try to conceive in their 40s, then you are bound to see women who are childless in old age.

Sadly it looks as if career minded women may be very vulnerable to the pressures contained in the Apple/Facebook policy.

But as well as that it occurs to us that if delayed pregnancy saves paying for maternity leave and at least some women become permanently infertile as a result of the policy, we also that that this new policy will actually save money for large and rich corporations at the expense of women who are misled into concluding that egg harvesting is a reliable way to delay (but not miss out on) the joys and privileges of motherhood.

An Apple a day, may be very bad for you.