Will Your Law Firm (or Other Employer) Pay for Your Egg Freezing? Should It? (Online Abortion and Reproductive Technology Symposium)

As John Robertson mentioned in his post earlier this week, in order to avoid age-related infertility many women are considering or will soon consider using egg freezing, as the technology has dramatically improved. As compared to freezing preembryos, for example, this is an attractive option since many of these women (heterosexual or otherwise) may not yet have chosen a reproductive partner, and also may want to hedge their bets to have options should they divorce. Still, the technology is not cheap.

At least one participant at the the bricks-in-mortar symposium reported to me that they knew of one Am Law 100 firm that will cover egg freezing for its lawyers. I would be grateful if folks in the comments section could indicate whether they knew whether their firm covers it as well. [Ed. Note: If you have any trouble with the comment function on the blog, which is still giving us trouble, send a note and we’ll get it posted for you through the admin account.] My own impression is that this is not yet widespread, but that might change as the practice becomes more common and thus the market converges (perhaps with a push from Above the Law).

Should law firms cover egg freezingt? I have made the argument elsewhere for coverage of reproductive technologies by insurance more generally from a moral and economic perspective. In the case of law firms, I am curious about the PR implications for the firm. Would potential female associates welcome this option knowing that they can work hard early on and still reproduce, if they so desire, later on? Or would they take this as a signal that the firm thinks that working there as an associate and pregnancy are incompatible? Would this option help remedy the deficits faced by women who want to have children on the partnership track or would it in fact exacerbate discrimination against women who do choose to have families early on while at the firm, with the thinking being “she could have waited.” More generally, would this be a blow for or against gender equity at law firms?

I. Glenn Cohen

I. Glenn Cohen is the James A. Attwood and Leslie Williams Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and current Faculty Director of the Petrie-Flom Center. A member of the inaugural cohort of Petrie-Flom Academic Fellows, Glenn was appointed to the Harvard Law School faculty in 2008. Glenn is one of the world's leading experts on the intersection of bioethics (sometimes also called "medical ethics") and the law, as well as health law. He also teaches civil procedure. From Seoul to Krakow to Vancouver, Glenn has spoken at legal, medical, and industry conferences around the world and his work has appeared in or been covered on PBS, NPR, ABC, CNN, MSNBC, Mother Jones, the New York Times, the New Republic, the Boston Globe, and several other media venues. He was the youngest professor on the faculty at Harvard Law School (tenured or untenured) both when he joined the faculty in 2008 (at age 29) and when he was tenured as a full professor in 2013 (at age 34).

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