Being 87 years old didn’t stop Julio Iglesias Senior — father of the famous vocalist — from siring a child. He proved, once again, that there is no biological clock for men, and joined the ranks of other famous old dads like Pierre Trudeau, 71, Charlie Chaplin, 74, and Saul Bellow, 84. There are only two real issues for guys like these: how much money do I have in my bank account? And, how bad is my arthritis?
Women, on the other hand, have always worried from an early age that “the clock is ticking.” Nowadays, though, modern reproductive technology is starting to level the playing field. Women can freeze their eggs when they’re young, and have children later.
Facebook and Apple made headlines recently when they announced they would help pay for their female employees to do this. A debate quickly ensued in the media. On the pro side, the move has been hailed as a step in the right direction for women’s reproductive freedom. The con side warns that it represents a surrender to corporate control of people’s lives, abject workaholism, and perhaps even a “plot by the men of Silicon Valley” to get the women off their backs about marriage, so the men can go back to their video games!
In any event, egg-freezing technology, while an option for women, is still a technology in flux. As progressive as many think it is for an employer to pay for the egg-harvesting procedure, and subsequent storage costs (ie, to have the eggs frozen), there remains a long way to go before the reproductive playing field is truly level. If and when that occurs, it will be interesting to see how far women push the envelope. Would a wealthy woman in her 70’s use ova retrieved from her 20’s or 30’s, and choose to have a baby? We’ll have to wait and see.
Bill Rogers is a Toronto lawyer and blogger covering family law and fertility law issues, and a columnist for the Medical Post covering the law of malpractice.