Friday, July 17, 2009

How Old Is Too Old?

The world's oldest mom, a woman who gave birth to twins at age 66, has died at 69, leaving behind two-year-old twin boys (who are now orphans, as they have no father).

Maria del Carmen Bousada lied to a fertility clinic about her age, telling them she was 55, which was their maximum age for attempting fertility treatment. She told a newspaper, "I think everyone should become a mother at the right time for them. Often circumstances put you between a rock and a hard place, and maybe things shouldn't have been done in the way they were done, but that was the only way to achieve the thing I had always dreamed of, and I did it."

It's so good to know that she felt the achievement of this little dream of hers justified all the lying and deception.

While she admitted that she was old as far as new mothers go, she acted under the delusion that she might live to be the age of her own mother, and even be around for grandchildren. (Just call her a cockeyed optimist). But if she had even taken two seconds to think about it, she would have realized that if she had a baby at 66, odds were that she would end up leaving behind a very young child. Which she did - two of them, who don't even have a father to rely on.

It is wrong and disturbing that women of such advanced ages are seeking fertility treatment, especially when there are no husbands in the picture. Bringing children into the world knowing full well you probably won't be around to care for them, and deliberately depriving them of any sort of father figure in the process, is just despicable. Yes, younger parents are not immune to death, but the odds are exponentially higher that a 70-year-old woman will kick the bucket than that her 35-year-old counterpart will have an early departure. And even if a 70-year-old manages to survive through the teenage years of her children, it may be in a wheelchair and diapers, which is no way to reign in a rambunctious adolescent.

But this hasn't stopped other women from trying to follow in Ms. Bousada's footsteps. Jenny Brown, who is 72, is so determined to become pregnant that she is pursuing her seventh round of IVF in hopes of becoming the world's oldest mother. She also uses the pathetic argument that a woman can die at any age, and so sees nothing wrong with trying to have a child (to whom she would undoubtedly be mistaken as being a great-grandmother).

Frankly, I don't think anyone should be allowed to pursue fertility treatment past menopause (though I don't include in that group women with premature ovarian failure). There is a reason women in their fifties should not be having children, and menopause is Mother Nature's way of saying, "Time's up!"

These women should be ashamed of themselves, and so should the doctors who assist them in this quest. This is an abuse of fertility treatment, not to mention the abuse of any children resulting from it.

Sixty or seventy is not just "too old", it's decades too old. So it seems a bit ironic that what these women really need to do is grow up.


The Davis Clan said...

When I first heard of this I was shocked. First off, tell me the doctor didn't guess she was older, plus I am sure he requested all of her medical records which would show her true age. We live in a society where anyone will do anything for money. I actually blame the doctors more than these women who will do anything to have a child.

Catherine said...

Adoption comes with a slew of qualifications, "tests" to pass certifying fit parents, including a house inspection! You would think there could be a few more stipulations in place for prospective IVF parents. Age should be one of them! Selfish. Sad. Those poor two-year-olds. Why is the kids who have to suffer?

Sara said...


And I'm a huge proponent of fertility treatments. But, like you said, there is a reason women's reproductive systems come with an expiration date.

fiona said...

That is definitely not cool. Those poor little guys; it's just not fair to them.