Basketball Icon Sue Bird Wants to Normalize Egg Freezing

Illustration for article titled Basketball Icon Sue Bird Wants to Normalize Egg Freezing
Photo: Mat Hayward (Getty Images for Together Live)

Sue Bird — four-time Olympic gold medalist, three-time WNBA champion, two-time NCAA women’s basketball champion, AND Megan Rapinoe’s girlfriend — wants to talk to you about egg freezing and fertility options. While taking a season off to rehab her left knee last year, the 39-year-old point guard decided to freeze her eggs, giving her a chance at a genetically related family down the line.


Bird said Rapinoe was a factor. “I think being in a relationship changes your mind-set on it. It’s hard to picture [life with children] when you’re both professional athletes,” Bird told The Washington Post.But that’s when it became like, wait a minute. Shouldn’t we take the steps to have the option, if down the road we decided we do want kids?”

The pair’s schedules are rather nuts (it seems like both are preparing for the Tokyo Olympics), she said. “It’s so hard to imagine how that fits into our lives — we know what life is like now,” Bird told the Post. “We can’t even have a goldfish right now!”

But the most telling part of this interview is that the WNBA’s health insurance plan considers egg freezing to be an elective procedure, i.e. it’s not covered. The Women’s National Basketball Players Association, the league’s union, is currently in negations with the league about working conditions as the collective bargaining agreement ends Dec. 31. (It was extended in October, the Post reported.)

If I was a member of a union comprised of entirely women, I would be pushing for full coverage of fertility procedures. It’s a position Bird seems to agree with.

“As an athlete, this is a big thing. Straight, gay, doesn’t matter. Your career is your body, and you need to keep your options open, in terms of starting a family,” Bird said. “Obviously, there’s a lot going on in the world of female sports and specifically in the WNBA because we have our CBA coming up. Just to be a pioneer in that category, it would be great for a women’s league to start talking about these things, to maybe have these options for athletes.”



I am a fan of normalizing any and all fertility options that women choose to live the lives they want to lead, but I want to point out two big issues with egg freezing: 1) pregnancy success rates are only around 18-20%, and 2) more and more employers are pushing it on female employees to avoid paying maternity benefits. I hate to think of women who want families putting them off to make their employers happy and ending up disappointed and heartbroken in the long run. We can’t discuss women’s choices without also discussing how they are conscribed by capitalism and the expectation of endless productivity.