A Dalhousie University professor is discouraging career-minded women from freezing their eggs for lifestyle reasons, a practice known as 'social egg freezing.'
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- Facebook and Apple add egg freezing to employee benefit plans, spark controversy
Françoise Baylis, a professor and Canada Research Chair in Bioethics and Philosophy at Dalhousie University in Halifax, is giving a lecture Thursday at the University of Windsor entitled, "Ladies, don’t freeze your eggs."
'Why is it a woman has to choose between a career and family?" - Francoise Baylis, Dalhousie University professor
For Baylis, it’s not just a matter of practical considerations associated with health or cost.
"We’re taking a social problem. We’re offering a medical solution," said Baylis. "Why is it a woman has to choose between a career and family? We don’t make men make that choice."
Baylis said freezing eggs entrenches the false belief that women cannot be good mothers and good employees at the same time.
"We’re living in a world where we say women can have it all and here’s a great strategy for that," she said. "Why is the challenge a biological one and not a social one?"
She said women have become a force in the workplace, which is a "relatively recent phenomenon." The workplace has not caught up to these changes, she said.
"The workplace hasn’t thought about why the work schedule doesn’t accommodate the school schedule," said Baylis. "What’s happened to subsidized daycare, aside from the province of Quebec? If society really thought it was important for women to have the same opportunities as men, they would be looking to make social policy changes."
Baylis said society must change its perception of egg freezing as an opportunity.
"We say have your career when you’re young and then when you’re older in your early 40's you can have your pregnancy," she said. "If you can’t take time off in your 30's to have a baby, why do you think now that you’ve reached the pinnacle of your profession now you can opt out of that for a few years?"
Companies offering free egg freezing
The subject has attracted a lot of attention recent months when both Facebook and Apple offered a program to their female employees where the company would pay to freeze their eggs so they could delay pregnancy.
The two companies offered to pay as much as $20,000 to those who elect to postpone motherhood by having their eggs extracted and saved.
"It allows companies to keep their young, exciting women in the workplace producing for them instead of reproducing for themselves," Baylis said.
Windsor fertility doctor says more issues at play
Dr. Tony Pattinson, a doctor in Windsor who specializes in fertility, said the pricey procedure of egg freezing was first developed for women who may have needed chemotherapy to treat cancers and other procedures that could damage their eggs, but does not necessarily disagree with women using it for non-medical reasons.
'A woman may not have a partner at that moment.' - Dr. Tony Pattinson
"If it's something women are choosing to do, I don't really have a problem with that," he said.
Pattinson has only had patients who want to freeze their eggs for medical reasons.
"A woman may not have a partner at that moment," he said. "She may meet the right guy who she wants to make babies with in the future."
Baylis’s talk is free and open. It's at 7 p.m. at the Toldo Health Education Centre at the University of Windsor.