Freezing Eggs: Why Facebook and Apple Should Not Support This Technology

Freezing Eggs: Why Facebook and Apple Should Not Support This Technology October 14, 2014

Breaking news today from Silicon Valley, where Facebook and Apple announced that the tech companies will cover the cost, if their female employees choose to have their eggs frozen.

NBC News reports:

Facebook recently began covering egg freezing, and Apple will start in January, spokespeople for the companies told NBC News. The firms appear to be the first major employers to offer this coverage for non-medical reasons.

“Having a high-powered career and children is still a very hard thing to do,” said Brigitte Adams, an egg-freezing advocate and founder of the patient forum By offering this benefit, companies are investing in women, she said, and supporting them in carving out the lives they want.

With the cost of egg freezing in the range of $10,000 per session, the two companies would seem to be expanding their fringe benefit programs to attract competent women who choose to postpone their families in order to concentrate on their careers.

*     *     *     *     *

But wait!  Egg freezing (or cryopreservation) is not without serious problems–and in most circumstances, it is not accepted by the Catholic Church.

Here’s why:

The Instruction Dignitas Personae, published by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2008, addresses bioethical questions including the freezing of eggs.  Theoretically, the National Catholic Bioethics Center explains,

“…freezing human eggs is not intrinsically evil, since one can conceive of some clinical settings in which a woman might benefit from such technique (say, for example, to evaluate some aspect of her fertility that is otherwise impossible to ascertain). That is why, in making its moral evaluation, DP focuses on the intention for freezing a human egg. If the purpose is for in vitro fertilization (IVF), then the procedure is morally tainted. In the words of DP, “In this regard it needs to be stated that cryopreservation of oocytes for the purpose of being used in artificial procreation is to be considered morally unacceptable.” (No. 20, emphasis in the original)

“In addition, there are serious risks involved to the woman seeking to freeze her eggs: ovarian hyperstimulation and egg retrieval are dangerous―and at times even fatal. They can only be justified for extremely grave reasons. There is also the danger that women will be exploited for their eggs through financial incentives.”

The technical explanation offered by NCBC stops short of discussing other moral arguments against postponing childbearing.

  • Is the woman going to remain chaste during her adult years, until she finally marries after her career is firmly established?
  • Will the couple practice contraception, which separates the conjugal act from its procreative aspect and which potentially results in the deaths of fertilized ova?
  • Even if the answer is yes to the first question, and no to the second, what effect will her extended focus on self-fulfillment have on the emotional and spiritual development of the woman and her eventual spouse?
  • And why has this hypothetical woman bought the lie that “fulfillment” is to be derived from career, while sharing with God in the creation of an infinite being who will spend eternity in heaven is somehow less fulfilling?   

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