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I’m thinking, absolutely not, but apparently, it’s all the rage in India.

I think that a woman going for fertility treatment, and getting pregnant when she’s well into her sixties is beyond cruel, and should not be allowed.

A child should come into the world at least expecting his/her parents to live through his/her childhood, not be waiting for them to die, because they happen to be old.

What say you?


  • Sparky
    December 11
    11:53 am

    My view? Definitely not. Not at all. In fact lower it to 60 and (if it were possible) apply it to both genders.

    People become weaker, the tire more easily and they become more susceptible to illness as they age. That’s simple truth. Someone in their 60s and 70s is not nearly as strong as that same person in their 20-50s. They are not going to have the energy for that child, even if they will have more experience.

    A vague google search tells me the life expectancy of an Indian woman is 66.4 years and even the highest nation’s life expectancy is put down at 85. So even if she were living in Andorra, average life expectancy would put her dead when her child hits 15. Wherever she lives, having a child at 70 dooms the kid to be a young orphan.

    Perhaps I’m biased about this. My family (or at least the women of my family) are very long lived – well into their 80s, 90s and even century mark. And long before they reach such august ages their bodies and minds break down. I can’t imagine my grandmother having a baby at 70, where arthritis was already crippling her hands, her legs and making it near impossible to move. I can’t imagine my Nana having a baby at 70 when she had already forgotten how to use a microwave and was putting the electric kettle on the hob. I can’t imagine any of my great uncles or aunts having babies at that age when collectively they fill a doctor’s medical dictionary from A-Z tire after prolonged activity and simply can’t do nearly as much as they could do when they were 20 years older.

    When i heard that a Romanian woman had had a baby at 60 I thought “what a stupid, selfish woman.” because I didn’t think she could give that child the life it deserves – and she was inevitably setting the child up to lose their mother at a young age. These woman doing it at 70 leave me stunned

    ETA: And an extra measure of anger at them going through this because they were so desperate to have a “Son and heir” despite the 2 daughters they already have


  • Dawn
    December 11
    12:53 pm

    No, they should definitely not be allowed to have children that old!

    As has been said before, they are condemning the child to becoming an orphan at an early age, or even worse, having to be the carer when the parent becomes infirm.

    I was sad to see that they didn’t think that their family was complete without a son. It’s a cultural thing, I know, but it still saddens me and I feel bad for the daughters.


  • sallahdog
    December 11
    3:13 pm

    As someone who is part of the sandwich generation (having both children and an aging parent in my home) I feel for the child. Even if the parent lives to their adulthood, you can bet they will be caretakers before they have had a chance to be a kid…

    It was one thing to have my mother come live with me in my 40s,another to expect me to take care of her in my teens or childhood… I do feel sad that female children aren’t valued the way male children are (btw, that happens even in our “enlightened” society)…


  • My ex’s father married in his late forties and, since he was going to have eight children no matter what… my ex and his younger brother were born after their father turned sixty, and their mother was in her forties. From the moment they could understand speech they were told not to bother or anger their father, because if he died (he had heart issues) it would be their fault. What a lovely way to grow up, huh?

    So, while I understand an accidental pregnancy at any age, the idea of purposefully seeking it, well past middle age, seems cruel to the child.

    Short version: hell, NO


  • It totally aggravates me that a woman in her 70s would use ART (assisted reproductive technology) to become pregnant. I do think it’s selfish to have a child you’ll likely not be able to properly care for and for the motives expressed. It seems extremely unethical of the doctor involved too.

    Still, I wouldn’t support any sort of measure to deny ART to mothers of advanced age. As a young woman going through the hells of infertility and having to constantly defend our choice to go through treatment, I don’t think it’s right for me or anyone else to decide who can or can’t receive care. I would worry that it would be old moms first, then obese moms, then poor moms or “unfit” moms or whatever.

    Yeah. It sounds paranoid but in some ways, at least here in the US, it’s already happening. Women with BMIs above 30 are routinely denied care. Couples in the middle class are priced out of ART. Even adoptions (domestic infant adoptions) are outrageously expensive (26-30K.)

    Anywho. Just MHO.


  • Lolita, you are right, it’s tricky. Once you deny rights to a specific group, it’s tempting to extend that denial to other groups.

    I guess that I should have said: I think it’s selfish as hell for people whose (healthy and physically able) life expectancy is less than two decades to seek a pregnancy, and I pity the poor child(ren).


  • Bonnie L.
    December 11
    5:35 pm

    Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. I think too many people don’t apply this wisdom to their decision making.

    (Although, I really understand your paranoia Lolita and I don’t think it is unfounded.)


  • Cat Grant
    December 11
    7:20 pm

    I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the notion of a woman that age even *wanting* to become pregnant.


  • So at what age should we begin the force sterilization of women? Maybe women should be forced to take I.Q. tests to determine whether or not they are eligible to have children at all as soon as they have their first period. Or perhaps we could just have a lottery and begin exterminating useless people with stupid ideas at random.

    Human rights. Who needs them anyway?
    All they do is make life complicated for everyone involved.


  • Merleon_C
    December 11
    8:06 pm

    As the child of older parents myself, I find this blog post extremely offensive.

    I lost both of my parents early on and it was tough, but through the experience I have become a stronger person. I would certainly choose to go through it all again, as opposed to the alternative of never having been born.

    Also, I think that you are not realizing the fact that in many Asian cultures there is this concept called “extended families”. It is not like the child would necessarily be a complete orphan or even raised solely by a couple of people in the first place.


  • Merleon, you find the post offensive, I find some assumptions offensive, other people find something else offensive.

    What you gonna do? Opinions and all that jazz.


  • joanne
    December 11
    9:34 pm

    This is just wrong – and selfish. Merleon may be a child of older parents, but I’ll bet her parents did it before nature made it impossible to do so without medical intervention – because of their AGE, not a disease or abnormality. I think that once you can no longer conceive naturally – due to AGE – that should be it. These people don’t want children, they want accessories to impress other with. “Hey! Look at me! I just had a baby and you can’t!”


  • As the child older parents I find this blog post extremely offensive.

    It’s your perfect right to be offended, but equally, it’s my right to opine that 70 year old women should not be having babies. It’s cruel and selfish beyond the pale.

    And seriously, extended family? You think old people are fine to have children, because in the event that they should die, their extended family will be able to take care of them?


    If you were a five or even a ten year old child who’s parents had died of old age, would you be thinking about how lucky you are that your extended family are willing to look after you?


  • My first reaction was also outrage, but after thinking about this, I lean more towards Merleon_C’s comment.

    First, the pressure to bear children in some cultures is huge. As in, it defines you as a woman. We may not agree with this, but when you live in that culture, it may not be possible to see past that social expectation. I don’t think this was a case of having children as accessories.

    Second, I’m more concerned about the health consequences for the mother. Yes, I’m concerned for the baby, too, but the biggest health burden, at least until the child is a little older, is on the mother.

    Third, I can attest to the fact that there are cultures where the extended family is THE family. There is no separate nuclear family–at least, not in a practical sense. These extended families live together and make decisions as a unit and feel a responsibility for the welfare of the entire household. In that kind of situation, I don’t think a child would be any more emotionally disadvantaged than usual if the parents passed away even before the child reached maturity.

    Finally, my biggest concern is the ethical question of doctors giving access to IVF for the couple. But then, ethics is deeply entrenched in cultural values, too, so perhaps in their minds they did believe there was some social benefit in going through with it. (As opposed to, say, doing it for the sake of making the news or making money off extremely desperate couples.)

    I do find the ethical question most fascinating. The argument that we should allow assisted reproduction for any other reason than age is something that I think is worth debating. For example, why do we say ‘it’s not natural’ when the obstacle is age, but for almost any other reason we acknowledge a woman’s right to circumvent the limitations that nature has placed on her or her partner’s body? Is it just the caretaker function that we have a problem with–that if she’s too old, she won’t live long enough to properly raise the child?


  • Well, in this particular couple’s case… they had had children–two grown daughters. And if I read it correctly, they got into debt in order to get pregnant again, so that there would be a son to inherit… but to inherit what? They got in debt! is that what the kid’s going to inherit?

    And what if instead of a boy and a girl it had been two girls? or just one girl? or the boy died(s)? more debt to try again?

    Cultural reasons all good and well, there are some extremes that make one wonder at things. I understand and sympathize with Lolita’s point of view much more than I do with Merleon.


  • AztecLady, I don’t agree with it at all, but some cultures place an irrational importance on the need to bear sons. Not just to inherit wealth, but to continue the family line. Or some such. Plus, in India the woman’s family pays a dowry, so presumably the son’s duty is then to marry well.

    I also suspect that the IVF treatment had some kind of sex selection. I mean, I’m not sure, but if the rationale was to have a boy, that would make sense. I think the mother did exceedingly well to carry the twins for 8+ months.

    Don’t get me wrong. I’m quite appalled that they’ve had kids at 70+, but I also think that the babies aren’t necessarily disadvantaged in an emotional and social sense if the culture or family structure is set up such that the parenting role is shared not just by the biological parents, but by an extended family or community that genuinely wants to look out for the children’s interests.


  • Kat, I agree. It’s the ethics of this particular case that fascinate and trouble me. I also think we have to be clear in defining the age groups we’re discussing. I see a huge difference in a woman in, say, her mid-forties using ART to boost her chances because of low ovarian reserve and/or impending menopause and a woman in, let’s be honest, the early stages of geriatric care pumping her body full of hormones she likely doesn’t even produce in any substantial quantity. I can’t even imagine what kind of damage she’s done to her poor body. Also the risk of maternal death must be huge. I would assume birth defects are not an issue since donor eggs and sperm were likely used.

    And I think we have to be careful in defining one’s ability to access ART based on whether a patient would be able to perform as a caretaker. Men and women facing terminal illness choose to use ART to become pregnant knowing that they or their partner probably won’t live to see their child grow.

    I think, generally, people don’t care if a patient uses ART so long as the patient falls within the natural childbearing age group. It’s when reproductive endocrinologists push the boundaries of ethics that people have WTF moments like the ones inspired by this mindfuck of a case.


  • AztecLady, awww, thanks for understanding! I mean, my first response was a whopping WTF, but I always think it’s best to count cases like this one as fringe cases, not as indicators of normalcy. By and large, reproductive endocrinologists have made huge strides in the ethics of fertility treatment. They used to place four or five or more embryos in a woman’s uterus to up the chances of successful transfer–but then they had a rash of high-order multiples (triplets or higher.) Now they transfer embryos based on age and hormonal panel factors and typically no more than 2 at a time. The instances of high-risk pregnancy are very low now–and that’s a good thing.

    Oh, and I too found it rather odd that this couple wanted a son to inherit but then went into debt. That makes absolutely no sense. And, yes, I figure they used sex selection to ensure a male baby.


  • Just another reason that country is so godawfully crammed with people. (I vowed not to go into a rant about planetary overpopulation, so I’ll shuffle off now.)


  • West
    December 12
    1:31 am

    Wow. Spend the day baking and I miss all the fun.

    I have to agree, this is a serious case of extreme fucktardism for me. I too am a child of older parents (although nowhere near 70), and I’ve spend most of my life taking care of them, since they started having age-related health issues when I was a teen.

    Merleon, no one here said to sterilize women. We are simply saying that there comes a time when doctors should really question doing this proceedure on patients. It’s one thing to have children in your teens, 20s,30,40s, and run the risk of dying of unforseen circumstances. But it’s another thing entirely to go out and deliberately get pregnant when you *know* there is a damn good chance that your death is fairly imminent. And at 70, you have to figure dying soon is a strong possiblity. How long do they figure they really have with this kid? And if they are really doing this just to have an heir, well, that’s a buttcrack stupid reason to have kids. You should have kids because you want them, you love them, and you want to see them grow up.

    The major issue for me here is selfishness. Doing something like this, and then hoping family will take care of the child when you kick the bucket? And I don’t care what they say, I don’t believe their reason behind this. I understand there are cultures where male children are valued more, but saying you did this to have an heir, but then not being able to leave them anything…well, that’s just bullshit. They would have been told how expensive this was, and they would have known it would drain their money. The did it anyway, putting themselves in debt, so I just don’t believe their excuse.

    And more than the parents, I blame the doctors. This is a case of doctors doing something just to prove they can. They could have turned this patient down, saying it’s not medically sound for someone of that age to do this (and doctors turn people down for all kinds of things for this reason, if they don’t have an agenda). They didn’t, and I’m willing to bet they patted themselves on the backs for sucessfully impregnating a 70 year old woman.

    So I reiterate, and stand by my opinion. Extreme fucktardism.


  • Las
    December 12
    3:40 am

    “Third, I can attest to the fact that there are cultures where the extended family is THE family. There is no separate nuclear family–at least, not in a practical sense. These extended families live together and make decisions as a unit and feel a responsibility for the welfare of the entire household. In that kind of situation, I don’t think a child would be any more emotionally disadvantaged than usual if the parents passed away even before the child reached maturity.”

    This is absolutely true, so in this particular case I’m not that worried about the children’s future (except for all the damn debt they’re inheriting).

    I would never want our governments making laws in regards to this stuff, because once they start meddling in our private affairs they never fucking stop. However, I really wish the medical community would do a better job at policing themselves in these situations. Do you have any idea how often doctors refuse to perform life-saving surgeries on patients they feel are too old and might die on the table, just because they don’t want to mess up their numbers? But geriatric childbirth is just fine and dandy because, awwww, wook at the cute widdle baaaaaabieeees!!!!

    I’m sorry, just because a patient can scrounge up the money for ART doesn’t mean they should get it. I already have some major ethical concerns about that whole business (more with fertility drugs and the possibility of grand-order multiples than with IVF), but the effects of age on health and, therefore, the ability to parent, is not even a debatable point, so that’s one area where it would be reasonable to set a limit. I don’t care about the hows or whys a woman hasn’t had children by the time she reaches 60, it’s too late. And if she DOES have children but she simply decides she needs MORE…well, fuck her. Seriously, that’s bullshit and there’s no reason to even consider catering to her wishes.


  • Karen Scott
    December 12
    8:24 am

    The same cultures that place pressure on women to bear sons, are the same ones who kill off their girl children, at the drop of a hat, so I’m not sold on the cultural arguments.

    I agree that doctors should be more responsible in these kind of cases, but seeing as (in my opinion of course) a good percentage of them suffer from some sort of God complex, I’m really not surprised that they went through with this.


  • Karen, I’m not trying to sell it. I just think it can be a very powerful motivator to the point where a person feels defined by it and therefore can’t see past it. Also, the cultural argument about rearing children in community rather than nuclear families is, I think, a valid one. (By which I mean a child raised like that won’t necessarily be worse off.)

    And I do think the doctor should be held accountable because he has the benefit of distance from the issue and, one would assume, a hell of a lot of education. Even in that news article, the gynaecologist seemed appalled by the circumstances, so as Lolita commented, I think this is a fringe case. And yes, Karen, I think the doctor likely did it for reasons more selfish than not.


  • I dunno – I just think menopause is nature’s way of saying ‘time’s up’.
    But having said that – I had my sons in my 20’s and never went though the heartbreak of wanting children and not being able to conceive. But 70 does strike me as being too old. And in the case stated, as a woman myself, the reasons just seem wrong. In that culture it just burns the latent feminist in me that more value is placed on men then on women.


  • MD
    December 12
    5:36 pm

    I think it is utterly selfish to have a child at that age. She should be ashamed of herself.


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