I’m at a coffee shop in New Orleans. Next to me, a table of women discuss business and funding solutions. Ten feet away, my thirty-something barista chats with a male customer about video game strategies. In the bathroom is a large fish bowl of free condoms in a variety of colors. On the bulletin board is an ad soliciting full-time activists: “Oppose attacks on healthcare access. Expand reproductive rights. Keep birth control affordable.”
Contraception is touted as a necessity for my demographic, but I came to this coffee shop to write about how more and more women are resorting to reproductive technologies because of the difficulty they face in trying to start a family before menopause. Women now pay tens of thousands of dollars to inject themselves with hormones in a procedure called oocyte cryopreservation, or “egg freezing,” so that they might be able to have biological children when they are forty, forty-five, or fifty-plus years old.
In April, a feature story titled “Freeze Your Eggs, Free Your Career” made the cover of Bloomberg Businessweek. “Not since the birth control pill has a medical technology had such potential to change family and career planning,” wrote author Emma Rosenblum. She continues:
Imagine a world in which life isn’t dictated by a biological clock. If a twenty-five-year-old banks her eggs and, at thirty-five, is up for a huge promotion, she can go for it wholeheartedly without worrying about missing out on having a baby. She can also hold out for the man or woman of her dreams. Doctors hope that within the next thirty years the procedure will become a routine part of women’s health, and generous would-be grandparents will cover it as they would a first-mortgage down payment.
Rosenblum is right when she asserts that dramatic changes in family and career planning were brought on by the pill. But are women really happier now because of them?