Too Old To Give Birth?

Last week, the 69-year-old Spanish woman who underwent IVF and became the oldest woman on record to have given birth (at 67) died of cancer. She left behind 2-year-old twin sons.

This is a topic I've written about before, but the particulars here are different. I can't seem to get this news story out of my head.

The woman lied on her fertility clinic paperwork. She flew to L.A. from Spain and told her doctor she was 55, the maximum age for treatment at that particular clinic.

She was quoted in a newspaper article as saying, "I think everyone should become a mother at the right time for them." I can hardly disagree with this statement.

Obviously, this case has ignited a storm of controversy and discussion about whether or not there should be a mandated maximum age for women undergoing fertility treatment (currently, that's a decision left up to individual clinics).

Attempting to legislate or even to voice an opinion on who should (and should not) be able to have children places you on a very slippery slope. Consider this: if this 67-year-old woman choosing to get pregnant was reckless and selfish (as she has been accused of being) given her advanced age, then women who smoke, have a dangerous profession (for example, police work), or engage in other high-risk activities and choose to become pregnant are reckless and selfish as well, and yet no law would ever curb their ability to get pregnant. And what about men who choose to father children in their seventies? I haven't heard any outrage over the fact that Larry King is 75 and has two very young kids. I've heard of no one calling him selfish. When she first gave birth, much was said about her not living to see her kids graduate from high school. Larry King likely won't live this long either, and yet because he isn't a woman, fathering children at his age is somehow more acceptable?

Supporters have said that mothers of any age can die of cancer. And the Spanish's woman's own mother lived to 101. She obviously believed she had longevity on her side, when unfortunately, this wasn't the case.

But while I firmly disagree with any law that would mandate a maximum age for fertility clinic patients (women should always have the choice regarding when (or if) they become mothers and government should play absolutely no role in this process), I also can't help but feel sorry for these two little boys, who must now grow up without her.

What do you think?

7 Responses to “Too Old To Give Birth?”

  1. # Blogger My Wombinations

    Having lost my own mother when she was 45, I can say it is possible to lose a parent even when they have you in plenty of time (she was 28 when I was born). On the other hand (and I may get flamed for this), I think our biological clock works the way it does for a reason. Someone who is 68 is not meant to be having children. I am no doctor, but I wonder if all the hormones helped contribute to her early demise. I suppose we may never know.

    As for outrage over older father, there IS some. Totally But they are also biologically able to procreate into their 80's. I think it is the fact that these older women are opting for fertility treatments that has people up in arms. They are going out of their way to create a life they know they may not be able to see grow up.

    And as someone who lost their mother at 16 and who watched her sister lose her mother at 7, that is not a chance I would be willing to take. I like to believe that I would accept that I would not be a mother at that point. It really is not fair to the children in my opinion. There does come a point at which their needs outweigh our "rights" to be parents.  

  2. # Blogger kenju

    I think there should be an upper limit on the age of women who can have IVF, and that age should be determined by other references - not by the woman's own say-so.

    It is horrible that she did this and has now left those twins motherless. How very sad and how unfair to the children.  

  3. # Blogger Veronica

    I have a different take on this.

    If you're going to allow for IVF and other treatments that allow otherwise infertile women to procreate (of whatever age), I think it becomes almost hypocritical that there would be age limits to who can be a mother.

    While I would never wish for a child to be raise without their mother, like those twins will be, I think we need to remember that those twins would not exist today if it hasn't been for their mother's decision to bring them to this world.

    I'm sure her extended family (and she, if she were alive) would not regret having brought those kids into this world.

    I'm personally very wary of adding what seem to be arbitrary restrictions to personal choices. If we begin to restrict the age that someone can be a mother through legislative means, then it begins to create a slippery rope of who else can be excluded from the "motherhood track."

    And that's a very, very, very dangerous path to begin to map out.  

  4. # Blogger Holly at Tropic of Mom

    I'm not sure what I think. Obviously, I really feel for the children. And I agree there's a double standard (men vs. women) because my own father was much older and continued having kids even after I was born. She gave two children life, and she was probably happy and fulfilled being a mother .... but I'm nowhere near that age and this last pregnancy really wiped me out!  

  5. # Anonymous Ness @ Drovers Run

    Tough one.

    Here are my thoughts, I'm going to try and voice them without coming across as clumsy - but here goes anyway.

    I think that people need to stop somewhere and take responsibility for their actions.

    Just like it is ridiculous for McDonalds to have the words 'caution: contents are hot' on their coffee cups (I'm sorry if you're buying coffee and you don't know the contents are hot then you are TOO STUPID to breathe - let alone sue McDonalds when you spill the 'hot contents' in your lap).

    In the same way - we as people should be able to stand up as adults (at 67 at least I hope so) and say, "I am too old to have kids at 67. My time to have kids is over, that's okay, and I need to deal with it."

    Her reasons to not do it earlier - were because she was caring for her aging mother. HOnestly - that was HER CHOICE. Had she chosen to have kids sooner - her mother may have suffered but maybe the children may have had a mother who lived longer - it's really a question of whether she was selfish sooner rather than later - does anyone get what I'm trying to say here?

    She should have made peace with her life the way it was, and not had IVF. The fact that she lied, shows that she knows that what she did was wrong.

    The only people who suffer here are the children - did she not think of this possibility before undergoing IVF?  

  6. # Blogger Simply-Mel

    I am with Ness. We make choices. Life dishes. Its simply not right to have kids at 67.

    The mere fact that it is causing such a furore shows that its weird.  

  7. # Blogger Shannon

    I know I have read a lot of blogs of dads... who lost their wives in childbirth... they were young nothing should of happened but yet they are dead... now this woman shouldn't of lied... but she did and had 2 children... in an article i read... her own mother never wanted her to have kids... so she waited till she died and then had the IVF...

    So, I think if you are going to make a choice like that you better have a will and a huge back up plan for those children... part of the reason we are done after this baby is because I am now 35... I know what can happen after 35 and having kids... both to the mother and the baby... to me it isn't worth it... and I suck at being pregnant lol...  

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