Oocyte cryopreservation, or “egg freezing,” is the practice of preserving unfertilized oocytes for later fertilization. This practice allows women to extend their reproductive years. In 2014, Facebook and Apple announced that they would begin to subsidize their female employees’ elective use of oocyte cryopreservation technology to more easily reconcile the demands of career and family life. This announcement prompted public controversy and moral debate. Responding to a bioethics & lay literature that is often vague about concrete recommendations, I explore the nature of the benefits and risks of elective oocyte cryopreservation, and specify the rights and obligations of women, insurance companies, employers and the government regarding access to elective oocyte cryopreservation. I also evaluate, through a summative content analysis, the ways in which oocyte cryopreservation is marketed to women. Following this, I argue that there is no compelling moral reason for the state to mandate insurance coverage of this use of the technology. I also argue that more substantial maternity and paternity leave privileges are better equipped to provide many of the social benefits that elective oocyte cryopreservation is alleged to provide. I conclude that it is permissible to offer elective oocyte cryopreservation in the market and through employee health benefits so long as women also have access to counseling and reasonable maternity leave benefits.
University of Minnesota M.A. thesis.August 2016. Major: Bioethics. Advisor: Leigh Turner. 1 computer file (PDF); vii, 90 pages.
Elective Oocyte Cryopreservation: The rights and obligations of women, employers, insurance companies and the government..
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