Tech giants Facebook and Google have come under fire from Catholic leaders and pro-life activists for offering company health coverage to women who wish to freeze their eggs.
Facebook has been providing the benefit
to employees and their spouses or domestic partners since January, while Google will begin offering similar coverage next year.
Under their health plans, the eggs are intended to be retrieved while the women are young and most fertile, and used later in life through in-vitro fertilization, when motherhood might be less likely to hinder their career.
But the Catholic Church consider IVF to be immoral and contrary to the natural order of life, according to the Catholic News Service.
"It's very hard on women's bodies to retrieve eggs to freeze," and very unnatural, Jeanne Monahan, president of the March for Life Education and Defense Fund, told the news agency.
Father Tad Pacholczyk, director of education for the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia, said that IVF "involves the decision to create our children through a manufacturing process" carried out for profit rather than being "engendered as the fruit of the bodily embrace of a husband and wife."
Helen Alvare, a professor at George Mason University School of Law in Arlington, Virginia, and a former pro-life spokeswoman for the U.S. bishops' conference, denounced Facebook and Google’s plan as "a gimmick" and "an image strategy" at the expense of women and children.
Saying that the tech companies are putting their own advantages first and women's last, Alvare expressed her concerns about the harm that can be done to a child "created in a lab and not in an act of love."
Christian ethicist Charles Camosy, associate professor of theology at the Jesuit-run Fordham University in New York, told CNS, "Instead of asking women to delay having children, we ought to be providing on-site child care, equal pay for equal work, and maternity leave.
"Instead of giving women the support necessary to be both mothers and professionals, our culture supports the 'choice' of women to not be mothers while they are working. But, of course, this isn't a choice at all. Our unjust social structures coerce her choices."
And Jennifer Lahl, president of the California-based Center for Bioethics and Culture, warned that IVF "is still an enterprise that has a very high failure rate."
Apple and Facebook, which are among the first companies to offer an option to freeze eggs, have sparked a debate on social media about whether their new health benefit would pressure women to undergo an invasive procedure to delay childbirth in favor of their careers.
Apple spokeswoman Kristin Huguet said the iPhone maker wants to "empower women at Apple to do the best work of their lives as they care for loved ones and raise their families."
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