In an effort to keep young military enlistees from leaving to start a family, the Pentagon is going to start offering to freeze their eggs and sperm, the New York Times reports.
According to the Military Times, nearly 72 percent of enlistees are 30 or younger—prime years for starting a family. Defense Secretary Ash Carter says freezing soldiers' eggs and sperm—which will start as a two-year pilot program—will "provide greater flexibility for our troops who want to start a family." He says it will also give soldiers facing injury "additional peace of mind." As the New York Times notes: "Hundreds of veterans suffered injuries to their reproductive organs in Iraq and Afghanistan." Having a store of frozen sperm or eggs on hand means a genital injury wouldn't keep soldiers from having a baby.
But the program brings up a host of issues—both moral and financial. The military will have to deal with numerous ethical questions surrounding the preservation of reproductive materials, such as whether the wife of a soldier who dies in battle can then use his frozen sperm.
And the procedure to freeze eggs, a relatively new science, can cost up to $10,000. The Pentagon is still working out the details of the pilot program and estimates a cost of $150 million over five years.
The program is part of the military's "Force of the Future" initiative, which includes increased parental leave and child care. A major goal of the initiative is to increase retention among female enlistees.
After 10 years of service, the number of women staying in the military is 30% lower than their male counterparts.
This article originally appeared on Newser: Military Will Start Freezing Soldiers' Eggs and Sperm
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