Apple, Google and Face book have announced that they will bear the full medical costs for women employees who opt for freezing their eggs.
What this means is that women now have a choice to defer their biological clock while they concentrate on their careers. Thanks to modern technology you can freeze your eggs in your twenties when they are most fertile then choose to have a baby in your forties when you are settled into your career, financially stable and able to manage the organizational demands from a position of power and you have a bank of healthy eggs to lean upon.
There are arguments against this –is it a draconian way of ensuring women just work harder, longer? Is it really healthy? Does this make the workplace more ‘masculine’ instead of ‘feminizing’ or equalizing it? Will it change the attitude of men who have always had a choice to pick and choose how involved they want to be in doctors appointments, homework and PTA meetings even when both parents have been breadwinners? Apple and Google have also been criticized for not hiring enough women and perhaps hiring more women should come before offering women the option of freezing eggs.
But to my mind this is a choice. With organisations willing to pay it becomes possible for women to weigh their choices.
Freezing eggs has been known to science for a while but it was usually an option for women who were at risk like cancer patients undergoing radiation which is known to damage healthy reproductive cells. Now it is being offered to anyone who can afford it. It isn’t fool proof and fail safe though.
Freezing eggs is expensive –costs can go into lakhs of rupees. It is also not a guarantee that you will conceive as you need to use the IVF method to conceive and that has a thirty percent success rate. It takes a cycle of hormonal injections prior to freezing eggs to ensure the healthiest eggs are chosen.
It can be tedious but it will probably give you a sense of relief knowing you have an option in case you need to take that assignment in Hawaii just around the time wisdom demands you have a baby
Science has closed the loop beyond freezing eggs. There is the option of donor sperm in case you don’t have a partner when you plan to have a baby. There is the option of a surrogate womb in case you can’t carry the baby.
It doesn’t have to be a solo decision. With modern day stresses and often lower sperm counts in men a lot of couples are already opting for IVF.
Couples can decide together to defer parenthood. You are more relaxed in your life and career as you get older so you will probably be more relaxed as parents.
After all sixty is the new forty and by that logic forty is the new twenty. Times change and we change .
Face book, Apple and Google have started the ball and debate rolling. Let’s see how it pans out in Indian companies.