Anything that offers women more choices about their reproductive health is a good thing.
I get it. I understand why some people are having a negative reaction to an announcement made by Apple and Facebook that the companies will begin paying for egg retrieval and storage for female employees.
The way that it is being reported in the media makes it sound as if it could be another way to dodge the company’s responsibility to create a parent-friendly work environment. And that is never a good thing for women or for men.
But here are six reasons why I think that this is actually good news:
1) Anything that offers women more choices about their reproductive health is a good thing. The cost of egg-freezing has made it cost-prohibitive for many women. According to Forbes, the retrieval procedure costs about $10,000, and that is before you add in the cost of storage which runs around $500 per year.
2) We are living in a time when companies are going to the Supreme Court to avoid giving women choices in their reproductive lives. Any company that has the nerve to go in the opposite direction—that uses corporate funds to give their female employees more choices in reproductive health—should be applauded.
3) Some women want to prioritize their careers during their peek reproductive years. This is not something that a company is forcing on them. They love their work. Some of the best programmers only go home when their managers make them leave the building. This allows women who know that they eventually want families to work with executive focus.
4) This signals strongly that these companies want to recruit and retain female employees. They have made it very clear that they are not just trying to keep women from leaving their jobs to start families. These companies are trying to get a leg-up on their competition when it comes to recruiting talented women. How cool is that?
5) Women who have medical conditions that lower or terminate fertility will have better options. Let me give you two examples: A friend of mine had children before she was ready and with a man she did not particularly love. She made that difficult choice because she had polycystic ovarian syndrome and worried she could not afford to wait. Another friend’s daughter is going through chemotherapy for lupus. She wanted to be able to freeze her eggs before she began the treatment, but they simply could not afford to do so.
6) Companies such as these have been offering other types of fertility services and adoption benefits for years. This is a logical and worthwhile expansion on those family-friendly practices. It reminds us that families begin at the planning stages, not when a child comes home.
I do have two concerns about this benefit, however.
The first is that I hope it does not amplify the message our society is already sending, which is that women must delay their fertility to be successful. When a woman has children should be her choice.
My second concern is that I do not see any corresponding benefit for men. Men who want to retain their fertility should be offered a corresponding cryopreservation benefit for sperm.
I applaud Facebook and Apple for their efforts to recruit and retain female talent. And I hope that they follow through with substantive programs that support both men and women in their roles as partners and parents.
Lynn Beisner writes about family, social justice issues, and the craziness of daily life. Her work can be found on Role Reboot, Alternet, and on her blog: Two Parts Smart-Ass; One Part Wisdom. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.