1. Health
Rachel Gurevich

Should Age Be Restricted for Fertility Treatment?

By July 16, 2009

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Sadly, the world’s oldest mother died this past Saturday at age 69, leaving behind twin toddlers. She became the world’s oldest mother by using IVF at age 66.

According to news reports, she lied about her age to a California fertility clinic, claiming she was 55. (55 was the upper age limit at that clinic.) She argued later that her own mother lived until 101, and if she followed in her footsteps, she might even get to see grandchildren from her babies.

Unfortunately, things didn’t go according to plan, and Maria del Carmen Bousada died at age 69, just three years after giving birth to her twin boys. The babies have no father (they were conceived using a sperm donor), and it’s not clear who will raise them now.

Of course, the story is sad, and it’s unfortunate that the babies will not know their mother. For outside observers, though, the story stirs up the ethical question, “Should older women use IVF to have children?”

Should Bousada have been permitted to use IVF? Now, she lied about her age, so it’s difficult to point fingers at the fertility clinic that helped her get pregnant. But let’s say she had been 55, according to the clinic guidelines. Is that ethically ok?

We live in a politically correct society, with a touch of entitlement. To say a woman perhaps shouldn’t be allowed to have children after a certain age may be met with resistance.

After all, if technology can help her have a child, why can’t she have one? There are plenty of people in the world having children who have no business having kids for other reasons. Maybe a woman in her 50s or 60s is more mature and financially stable than a younger mom?

I think one of the main answers to that question is in this sad story – the reason is that all children deserve the chance to grow up with a mother or father in their lives. It’s true – sometimes, even young parents die suddenly. But the statistics are in their favor.

What do you think? Should IVF be limited by age? If yes, what would be the upper age limit? If not, why not? Share your thoughts in the comments section below. I want to hear from you!

July 19, 2009 at 2:27 am
(1) Kat says:

A woman using IVF to conceive at such a late age doesn’t seem very sensible or practical but a man is capable of getting a woman pregnant as long as he has functioning sperm and can ejaculate. It would be a moral issue and a sexist issue and I don’t think those are for the laws to decide.

July 19, 2009 at 10:13 pm
(2) Naomi says:

Interesting debate. I think there should be a reasonable and practical cut off age for IVF.

July 26, 2009 at 4:50 am
(3) Krissi says:

Regulations of IVF by age don’t sit right with me. I don’t think it should be society’s prerogative to set blanket rules for who is allowed the chance to become a parent. Would society then be allowed to take a baby away from the rare 55 year old who is able to conceive naturally, deeming her to be too old to become a mom? Now, whether or not I personally think it is a good idea to become a parent at that age is another thing, but I don’t know whether personal opinions are a good basis for making laws in this matter.

July 31, 2009 at 10:05 am
(4) Alem says:

I think if a woman in good shape healthy, she should have chince to get pregnant have baby if she is healthy no matter what age she is

August 11, 2009 at 12:01 am
(5) GHernando says:

Interesting question. I think a 69 year old woman is an extreme case. But I see the opposite in discrimination. My wife and I are in our early 40′s and some doctors limit the types of treatment available. I think that part of the reason is that doctors like to be able to cite high statistics on their success rates — they try to choose younger clients whom they know they will have a higher chance of success.
I also found some useful information on this site about pregnancy: http://howtogetpregnantnow.info.


August 26, 2009 at 10:47 pm
(6) Carmen says:

I think this is another one of those cases – just because we CAN do something medically doesn’t mean that we SHOULD, or that it’s morally right.

November 13, 2009 at 1:29 pm
(7) maria says:

My grandmother, a petite 100 lb Native American, had 16 children. The last one in her 50′s. All children were born healthy. This was many decades ago. I’ve know many women who had healthy babies in their 50′s. My friend’s mother from Italy had her last child at 58.

February 23, 2010 at 12:18 am
(8) reva says:

but what about the physiological and physical ills that pregnancy in an advanced stage would confer?

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