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Peace of mind

Pentagon wants to offer freezing eggs and sperm to retain young troops

By WITW Staff on February 4, 2016

In an effort to make military service more family-friendly and appealing to young people, Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter has created a pilot program that will pay for troops to freeze their sperm or eggs. By doing so, the Pentagon hopes to offer peace of mind to military personnel that they would still be able to have children in case of an injury to their reproductive organs on the battlefield. As many women leave the military after giving birth, the program also hopes to offer more flexibility to women in their 20s and 30s who want to pursue their careers and put off having children.

Dr. Arthur Caplan, a professor of bioethics at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, however, says that there still are several legal and ethical problems with freezing reproductive cells and cautions that freezing eggs, a relatively new procedure, can cause complications and is not always successful. The Pentagon did not comment on these issues, but said the plan would be outlined in a memo in the coming weeks. The pilot program is only available to active-duty members and will be re-evaluated in two years, when it might be made permanent. “As many families know all too well, these treatments are very expensive and often require multiple attempts,” said Pentagon spokesman Matthew Allen. “We know that providing this benefit across the board would result in a significant cost for the department. In addition to cost, we want to better understand the importance of this to our force, as well as its impact on recruiting and retention. In addition to hormone therapies and egg and sperm freezing, we are going to continue looking at ways to provide additional support for these types of treatments in the future.”

Read the full story at The New York Times.


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