Offers by internet giants Apple and Facebook to pay for female employees to have their eggs frozen so that they focus on their careers have been sharply criticised by German bishops.
The president of the German bishops’ conference, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, said that postponing childbirth for career purposes by means of egg-freezing had nothing to do with freedom of the individual but was a case of embedding birth into the economic process and making it possible to have children “just in time”.
Bishop of Dresden-Meissen Heiner Koch, who is responsible for family affairs in the German bishops’ conference, said that offering to pay for women to postpone childbearing in this way signalled that children were of secondary importance to professional requirements and that a career and a family were incompatible – a signal he said was “totally wrong”.
Bishop Anton Losinger, auxiliary in Augsburg and a member of the German Ethics Council, said that such offers only served the aim of “maximising labour market and economic profits”. It would be the women who later bore the risks and the burden of the medical procedure, he warned.
It was, he continued, unacceptable that a woman’s desire for children should be made subordinate to optimising the economic profits of a business.
Fr Karl Jüsten, the head of the bishops’ office for relations with the German Government, said that giving women the option of egg-freezing would lead to in-vitro fertilisation, which was forbidden by the Church.
“Egg-freezing is not an offer which will make having a family more compatible with a career. On the contrary, it ousts the family from everyday work life. Instead of encouraging employees to postpone childbearing, employers should welcome children,” the president of the German Catholic Family Association, Stefan Becker, said.
Since the beginning of this year, Facebook has been paying female employees in the United States up to $20,000 (£12,570) to have their eggs frozen and Apple wants to follow suit from January 2015.
Above: Egg-freezing. Photo: PA