Bioethics Discussion Blog: How Old is Too Old To Become a Mother?





Friday, May 05, 2006

How Old is Too Old To Become a Mother?

From today’s Times Online comes word of another elderly woman soon to give birth.

Yes, we have thought it all through, says IVF mother, 63
By Will Pavia

BRITAIN’S oldest expectant mother answered her critics yesterday, saying that her IVF-induced pregnancy, though “potentially controversial”, had been planned responsibly.

Patricia Rashbrook, a consultant child psychiatrist, will be 63 when she gives birth. She is seven months pregnant after treatment by an Italian embryologist. Doctors and anti abortion groups have accused her of selfishness and expressed fear for the child’s long-term welfare, growing up with two parents already over 60.

In 1997, a similar event occurred in the United States. On my now inactive Bioethics Discussion Pages, I presented the issue of a woman age 63 becoming pregnant and delivered after obtaining invitro fertilization. I posed the question of whether this was an ethically “right” thing to do. I certainly got a large number of very interesting responses from my visitors over the years. I have posted them here with the oldest comments at the bottom of this post. I welcome any comments from my current blog visitors. ..Maurice

On April 23 1997, it was announced that a woman, who had no children and was married to a 60 year old husband, had successfully undergone a delivery of a 6 pound 4 ounce baby girl after an in vitro fertilization and frozen embryo transfer. Though the assisted reproduction program where the transfer and followup was done had set age 55 as the maximum age for the procedure, it appeared that the woman represented herself as 10 years younger than her real age. After she became pregnant did she admit she was 63 years old. She is now possibly the oldest woman documented to have delivered a child. There have been many issues of public concern which has developed since the announcement. From the point of view of these Bioethics pages, the question arises as to whether it was "right" for the woman along with her husband to have initiated and brought to fruition a pregnancy and to become the parents of the child.
Here is the question:
What are the ethical implications of becoming a 63 year old mother? Is it right?

Date: Fri, Jan 23, 2004 10:38 AM From: To:
There have been so many responses to this that I feel foolish to add yet another, but I could not get this off of my mind until I replied to it. I am a single mother of two children, 3 and 5. I work part time and am a full time nursing student. I love my children. They have made me a better person and given meaning to my life. But let's face it, in our youth (I do still consider 25 as youthful) we do not have the patience, life experience, and sometimes financial stability that we may have at a later time in our lives. I try to have as much time for my children as possible, but I have to put food on the table and college is important so that in the forseable future I can give my children food, clothing, shelter without a daily struggle but this does come at a price. At 65 this child is being raised in a household that has 2 loving parents, they are probably financialy stable if they could afford the procedure, and they are most likely retired or close to retirement giving them time to raise their child in a loving stable home. Even if they are only alive till their child is 20 they have probably spent more quality time with their child then most of us who will be alive when our children are 50. She was physically able to carry the child to term and deliver. Some 20-30 year olds are unable to do this and have several miscarriages before they reach success, should they not try to have children. How about people who have had cancer. After remission should they not try to conceive? The cancer may come back and kill them before the child is out of diapers? Our bigger problem is people who mistreat their children, who use abortion as birth control, the babies left in trash cans. Let's all appreciate parents who are trying to do their best and try to help those who are not.
Michelle Blackwelder 04

Date: Wed, Apr 9, 2003 10:38 AM From: To:
I feel that this is unethical due to mainly the age of the woman and her husband. She is 63 years of age and her husband is 60 years of age. How old will this child be when they die? Eventhough the life span has greatly increased, this child will eventually be left without parents at a young age. Who will take care of the child? How will the death of his parents affect him and his quality of life. I just don't think that this child will have the opportunity to be a child and enjoy the things that children of younger parents enjoy, such as playing baseball, football, basketball, cheerleading, beauty pagents, and a whole lot more.
Some people elude to the fact of Sarah and Abraham being blessed with a son in their nineties when justifying this pregnancy, but I do not think that they are at all similar. For one, Issac was a miracle from God. He planted the seed into Sarah's womb, God did not need any help from man or technology, this to me is a true miracle. The later is man playing god, and trying to change a manipulate his plan for each of our lives, but with this manipulation comes a great deal of consequences that are not weighed. Yes, it may seem great that this woman was able to produce a child at the age of 63, but what about the what happens after the child is born, and the aging process continues with the parents.
But this is America, and we are a great nation with the right to choose as we please. I do not agree with it, but I do agree that the right should be given to those that choose to do this procedure.

Date: Mon, Mar 3, 2003 9:41 AM From: To:
I feel that if a woman no matter what age can provide a child with the love and resources needed to care for them, why can't she have a child. I myself feel that I would not have a baby at that age because I would want to make sure that I am able to enjoy them and their life. I would be interested to know how it came about that a woman of her age who most likely had gone through menopause was able to conceive?

Date: Sun, Feb 16, 2003 5:56 PM From: To:
Personally I believe that this woman is extremely lucky. The only thing that she wanted was to have a baby. I myself am in my mid twenties and can't even have children, even though it is the only thing that I ever wanted in my life. this woman might have a 63 year old body but here heart is that of a young spirited woman. In my opinion that little baby is the luckiest baby in the world.

Date: Tue, Jan 28, 2003 12:40 PM From: To:
Hi I am a 45 year old woman never married or had any children. I guess reason for even reading this article is that I had to do a paper for shool and I found the responses facinating. I think that in a way it was unethical in bringing up the child at such an old age and that they may not be there to see the child grow up, get married but who are we to say anything because we all do not know how much time we have left on this earth. Also Sarah in the bible had a baby at the age of 90. I think that is the record of the oldest woman having a baby. I think that if she did conceive it is her right and there that we have the right to say about it. What if it was You? This is a gray area question that you have to do what is in your own belief system and what you believe is right.

Date: Fri, Nov 22, 2002 8:33 AM From: To:
I am also amazed -as one person put it -at the selfish, arrogant, ignorant and immature responses to this question. Life should be as valued as our Father in Heaven values it. We are His Work / His Glory. Have faith in Him. I don't question His miracles. These people talk about the mother as if she were not also a miracle of God. In each of us there is a Divine Purpose. Would those people think differently about this child being born if this is the child that discovers the cure for aids? for cancer? develops a way to get rid of nuclear waste? or maybe simply being in the right place at the right time to save a child from crossing the street in front of a vehicle. How would they think of the mother then? We are promised nothing in this life except His enduring love and guidance - whether our days are many or few. We each make our choices, thanks to His gift of free agency, and we must accept the consequences of those decisions. I wish only the choicest of God's blessings for this family. (Ethical? It is a baby - not a scientific experiment.)
Debrah L. Hardee, Surfside Beach, SC U.S.A.

Date: Sun, Aug 18, 2002 1:13 PM From: FOUR To:
Its not against any ethics for a man to help produce a child at an older age, so why stress a woman who wants to conceive and have a baby at ages 55 or older. A man can keep making as many babies as he wants as long as he still gets a good erection. You don't hear the media jumping all over us now do you? ?subject= 63 year old mom:13 PM

Date: Sat, Aug 10, 2002 12:50 PM From: To:
I don't think the clinic or anybody else has a right to say if a person can or cannot have a child. The mother should not have had to lie about her age. If the law says a woman has the right over her body to terminate a pregnancy, how can they then say she has no right over her body to begin one? If doctors are allowed to assist in terminating pregnancy, then why not be morally correct in assisting the startup? The love of a good parents is the best start in life any child could have, come what may.

Date: Mon, Jun 24, 2002 2:24 PM From: To:
I think it was unethical for the couple to bring a child into the world at their ages. I believe as I do because of the six ethical principles and one of the principles is that of fidelity-faithful. The couple violated this principle when they choose to lie about their ages. The institution has age limits set for particular reasons. Reasons for concern of the unborn child and for concern of the mother. I, myself being a mother in my mid twenties have a hard enough time keeping up the high energy level of my three year old. I could not imagine trying to do it in my sixties. I would be concerned of health risks relating to that age and health problems of my spouse. I hope they have a lot of support near by!

Date: Mon, Jun 17, 2002 7:05 PM From: To:
It is not our place to judge as mankind. We are not God, only shaped in the likeness of him. I do believe though that if God intended for this particular woman to conceive and give birth to a child, she would have gotten pregnant without the assistance of modern technology. I believe that anything is possible with the help of the Lord, but to "play God" is not the correct way to go about planned childbirth, and parenting. At the ages of 60 and 63 it will take God to help them through all of those crying spells, wet and soiled diapers, and of the mental strain of rearing today's generation of children. I wish this blessed couple the best of luck.

Date: Sun, Apr 28, 2002 10:59 AM From: To:
hi, my name is Ashley and I'm 15 yrs. old. I just want to congratulate you on your 6 lb. 4 oz. baby. I feel that if you are healthy enough to have a baby then so be it. you should be very grateful because there are many women out there that can't conceive and don't have the money for in vitro. bye!!!
--I'm sure your baby is beautiful.

Date: Fri, Dec 28, 2001 5:09 PM From: To:
I am a 65 year old Grandmother trying to raise a 13 yr old help financially or any other way.....and I can't imagine a 63 year old woman wanting to become a Mother again. I do not feel that God would have chosen a woman at this age to become a mother.God made a woman at a certain age where she could not become pregnant. And I do not think its fair on a child. I think it is selfcentered as for any woman at age 63 to bring a child into this world...I do not feel they are thinking of the child,but rather their own selfish wants. Its difficult to raise a child again at that age and its difficult on the child having a mother that age.....I don't believe that the people who say this is just wonderful, have really thought this out much less experienced raising a child again at that age. No I do not feel this is right.

Date: Tue, Nov 6, 2001 11:31 AM From: To:
Just wanted to say I think it is wonderful that you are willing to help older women become mothers..because it is a blessing in life...and any women at any age can be a good mother and also a better mother. That child will be more mature at age 18 and will be a better provider for themselves and their family. Would like to see more of them.... Cheers for the over 50's new mothers.......

Date: Fri, Oct 5, 2001 8:33 PM From: To:
I am 41 yrs. old and I have had 7 children of my own. they are all grown and gone now. I am now in a marriage with a man that don't have any children. He would make such a wonderful father, but, I can't have anymore! I would love very much to have a baby with him, but unfortunately I can't find a Dr. here in Mich. let alone the money. I feel that any woman in her later years wanting a child should be able to have one. They are Gods gift, God gave women the gift of creating life. And know one should ever criticize a woman for having one. As long as a woman is healthy and can carry a pregnancy that so be it.

Date: Mon, Sep 17, 2001 11:39 AM From: To:
hi i am doing a project on women having babies later in life and i logged on to you're web site !
I feel that it is ethical for a women of 63 to have a child. Obviously it is what they both wanted and i feel that it is a nice thing that thier wishes have come true i wish them all the best and plus i don't feel it is up to us to judge any one else that chooses to have a baby late in life !!!
well thanx 4 listening Fallon 16yrs, bye

Date: Sun, Jul 1, 2001 1:50 PM From: To:
I think that the 63 year-old woman really wanted a child and I believe that if God allowed it to happen than it was a right choice. Although I would not promote older women to take on the risk of a bearing a child, I think that in special cases it works out to be the best decision. Perhaps this woman had never experiences the wonder and excitement of being a mother. How can we take that right away from her just because of her age? I believe that as long as she was educated about the risks and dangers to both her and her baby, than it is still her decision. I am glad to see that the pregnancy and birth of her child was a success!
Amber Pearson- OKC, OK

Date: Wed, Jun 27, 2001 7:34 PM From: To:
I believe the mother had the right of privacy in choosing to get pregnant. She has the right to do whatever she chooses in her personal life as long as she does not violate the rights of others. One has to question though, whether she violated the rights of the child by bringing her into the world at a greater disadvantage from other children her age. She likely faces years of ridicule and torment at the hands of her peers...violation enough!

Date: Mon, Jun 25, 2001 7:16 PM From: To:
Who are we to judge these women and make decisions for them? Who's to say that I might not be one in my older years trying to do the same thing? It seems to me that this child is going to have more love than she ever wanted due to her parents wanting her so badly as compared to the person who is still in shock trying to figure out how she became pregnant.

Date: Sun, Apr 8, 2001 12:59 PM From: To:
As long as God permits her body to have a child in a natural way it is ethical. If God wanted to permit humans from giving birth at a curtain age He would end our right to give the miracle of birth in his own way, by not allowing her body to conceive such a child. A child is a miracle sent from God himself! Don't ever doubt him! I am a 21 year old from MN.

Date: Thu, Mar 15, 2001 8:27 PM From: To:
I believe that if this woman wanted a child bad enough to lie to the doctor in order to have one, surely she weighed out all of the pros and cons of her decision before doing so. I'm sure she was aware of the risks to both her and the child, yet she decided to procede. I realize that she is an elderly woman, but as long as she provides for this child both mentally and physically, I think she has just as much right to have a child as someone in their twentys. I do think that since she is a much older person, she should make plans for her child's future in the event of her death. This woman was clearly desperate to have a child of her own. Who are we to judge a mother's love? If God didn't want this to happen, it would not have. I say "Way to go!" I wish her all the happiness in the world.

Date: Mon, Feb 12, 2001 3:28 AM From: To:
We are two 18years-old students and we have parents of 40yr and granparents of 70yr/65yr. We are glad, happy, proud and so on we have known our own grandparents but we have grown up with OUR PARENTS!!!! We think and it's sure that that poor baby WILL NEVER KNOW his grandparents and first of all, his parents if they die soon!! In this case people shouldn't take care of the wishes of the mother (SHE HAD TIME TO HAVE ONE CHILD WHEN SHE WAS "YOUNGER") but we should focus on the future of the little child.

Date: Mon, Feb 12, 2001 3:13 AM From: To:
we think that having a baby at the age of 63 is a personal choice and nobody can judge this woman! there could be some genetic and psychological problems but what matters is that the mom loves her child!!!

Date: Mon, Jan 29, 2001 3:15 AM From: To:
we think becoming mother at 63 years old is not ethical because you are too old to have a baby,there is a big difference between a baby and his mother.

Date: Sun, Jan 28, 2001 11:54 AM From: To:
We think that when a woman gives birth to a child at the age of 63 she is not the example of mother a child sees when he or she goes to school every day, she'd rather look like the grandmother, making the child get embarassed. It is also a medical risk: the more a woman is old, the more the chances of having a sick child become bigger. So in our opinion it is not so right to have a child when the mother is so aged. Noemi & Stefania

Date: Sun, Jan 21, 2001 11:09 AM From: To:
i find it morally and ethically wrong for a older woman such as herself trying to take on the responsibility of raising a child. with the ever changing world and the pressures that face our teens today, an elderly couple most likely cannot keep up with the requirements for raising a child. the main focus and point of concern should be with the quality of life this elderly couple can provide for the child. he/she sould not have to suffer and face the world alone at such a young age.

Date: Mon, Dec 11, 2000 2:29 PM From: To:
Many people have argued in favor of the woman's decision, citing young parents who have exhibited poor child-rearing skills or grandparents who have done an admirable job in raising their children's kids. Yes, young people can be miserable parents and older people may be wonderful parents, but I think the focus has to be on the experience of the child. People, regardless of their age, need to think seriously about the quality of life they are able to provide for children. All too often, people are lured by the wrong motives for having kids -- It's the right thing to do, kids are so adorable, I'll have someone to love me now, and a hundred other invalid reasons. My gut feeling is that a 63 year old woman, no matter how wonderful and healthy she may be now, may not be as well-equipped as someone half her age to deal with the ever-changing physical and emotional demands of raising a child throughout the upcoming years. But before I pass judgment, I would like to ask her if she's considered all the issues particular to her case, most of all, how she plans to provide for her daughter if she dies while her daughter is still dependent upon her. If I could hear her answers, I might discover she is no better or worse than any parent of any age.

Date: Mon, Nov 13, 2000 5:57 PM From: To:
I think the most important issue in this situation is the child, not the mother. We need to focus on the circumstances that this child is facing. How much time is this child going to spend with her parents? Is she going to bond and feel close enough to them to share moments that are crucial in the growing up process? I believe that there may be many situations in the future that these parents won't be able to handle. Unfortunately, it's the child who will be hurt in the end. I'm trying to stay away from "bad-mouthing" the parents because I believe that everyone should have the opportunity to have and love a child, but may be this should have been planned out a little better.

Date: Thu, Nov 2, 2000 8:46 AM From: To:
In response to your ethical question:
The article featuring a discussion about a woman who, at the age of 63, lied to her doctor and told him she was ten years younger so she would be eligible to receive an in-vetro fertilization and frozen embryo transfer. On April 23, 1997 she gave birth to a 6 pound 4 ounce baby girl. The topic is whether it was "right" for this woman and her 60-year old husband to be the parents of a child.
I have known some 62-year-old grandparents who became the adoptive parents of their daughters children. The children were age 2 and 5. The daughter, lost in her world of selfishness and immaturity, abandoned her children. Grandma picked up the pieces, legally adopted the children, and struggled to maintain a happy, healthy home for them. This situation was not on the news, no one thought to discuss or argue their decision. No one really cared. And it is a situation that is all too common in our society today. Grandparents raising children and doing it well.
So I question why there are so many negative responses because the woman in question gave birth to a wanted baby. If it is a question of the woman dying before her baby was raised to maturity, then I say that none of us are in control of our death. Young mother die too.
What I want to know is the baby loved? Is she nourished and nurtured? Is she picked up when she cries? Is she rocked to sleep? Are the parents providing stimulation, education, and stability for the baby? These to me are the issues to focus on. If the parents are doing these things, and more, for the baby girl, then we as a nation full of abused, neglected children, should bring our hands together and give thanks.

Date: Thu, Oct 5, 2000 4:14 PM From: To:
First of all whom are we to judge this woman for wanting a child just because she is 63 years old?? The majority of people would not even blink an eye if the father was 63 -- so what is the big deal?? You always hear of a lot of older dads. Also as far as the possibility of the mother having medical problems while the child is young -- that can happen to parents of any age. We had a family member die when he was only 32 -- and another mom to die at age 28 when her twins were 1 yr. old. -- and what about the ethical issues of these teen kids that have babies that they don't want or just "flush down the toilet!" God has a plan for us and apparently this baby was certainly in his plans. I congratulate this 63-year old mom for wanting to become a mother despite her age -- I certainly believe that this woman will be a wonderful mother. Her child has a lot to be thankful for -- a mom that truly wanted her.

Date: Tue, Oct 3, 2000 11:12 AM From: To:
Personally I think that it is totally radically amazing how a 63 year old women can have a child. I think it was wrong for her to lie about her age, so what if she is 63 she has got to be in great shape to beable to have a child at that age! I praise her, My mom had me at 46 years old. I am now 17 years old, does that make my mom a descrase to women cause she wasn't suppose to be able to have another child, and here I am, almost 18 years old ! it's a total marical! I wish I could be able to tell my future children that their grandmother had me when she was 63, it would be a great history past family thing to pass on in the future.

Date: Tue, Sep 12, 2000 4:23 PM From: To:

Date: Sun, Jul 2, 2000 10:57 PM From: To:
i think it is disgusting and decieving. her body went through menopause for a reason! i feel so sorry for the child. it will be about 16 or something when its parents are too old and feeble to care for it. this woman is a disgrace to all womankind! she should be punished for lying. i know what i would have done if it were me in her shoes i would have adopted. and if she were fertile earlier on in her life she should have had a kid then and if she werent fertile she should have doe this test tube thing earlier. shes disgusting.

Date: Tue, Apr 11, 2000 8:11 AM From: To:
I would just like to point out that men have become fathers at all ages so, if science allowes it, why should we as a society withhold that same right to a woman. Yes there are problems to do with age but the fathers at 65 or older have had to cope with them so why does everyone think that th e 63 year old woman will not?

Date: Wed, Mar 22, 2000 6:29 PM From: To:
Dear Dr. Mo-
My name is Diane Hoffman. I have been absolutely facinated by the questions and responses at your site. It must be the best on the web. When I got to this one, I absolutely had to respond. I cannot believe some of the arrogant, selfish, responses regarding this issue.
In the first place, yes 63 is old, but not THAT old. If this woman was able to shave away 10 years and fool the doctors long enough to undergo fertilization, and she wanted a baby so badly that she was willing to risk her health for it, then I say "You go girl."
How dare these people assume that someone at 73 is incompetant and unable to raise a child. There are many women at least that old raising their grandchildren because their own children are struggling trying to survive, are too selfish to take care of a child that will disrupt their standard of living, or have lost their own children due to whatever circumstances. The list goes on and on. There is absolutely nothing that says this woman will be a dottering old fool unable to take care of this child she has brought into the world. Many of the geriatric set are far more capable and have the time and money to raise a child than their younger counterparts. I am also sure this woman has made adequate arrangements in the event that her death happens before the child is old enough to be on its own.
I may not be 63, but I am a single mom with a 9 year old and a 27 year old. At 46 I am continually mistaken for someone 10 to 15 years my junior. Having a late life baby was not my choice, but I would not change a thing. My daughter and my older son are the driving force that keeps me young and motivated. It was a lot easier when I was younger, but I expect to be alive and kicking for a long time yet. I feel this woman had every right to have a child. God bless her and I wish her all the best.

Date: Wed, Mar 1, 2000 2:14 PM From: To:
Dear Dr. Mo-
My name is Bridget McLain and I am a student at Deuel High School. I have just posted a filamentality Web Quest about ethical childbearing age limits. I believe that the process of doctors reversing menopause and impregnating women through in vitro fertilization is wrong. There are so many women today of childbearing age and condition that would love to have children. In any case like this, we must look at the best interests of the child involved. When a child is born with a sixty-three year old mother, you can most likely count on him/her not being able to share some very important times with his/her mother. There are also many risks older women take when getting pregnant, especially with chromosomal abnormalities. Although there could be some special situations, I believe that it is unethical for women to reverse menopause and artificially become prgnant to bear children at a later age. Thank you for your time. You should reply to the address; if you have any questions.
Bridget McLain

Date: Fri, Oct 8, 1999 7:28 PM From:
Well, I think it was wrong for her to lie about her age, especially since there was an age cutoff mark. She must have had her reasons. I know by personal experience that having a baby can really wear you out. I hope and pray that she has the stamina that it requires or the financial resources for a nanny. I wish her luck because she can't change her mind now.

Date: Sun, Jul 25, 1999 11:15 AM From: To:
I feel that there would be nothing unethical in becoming pregnent at 63 if there was higher risk of having a child with birth defects. Unfortunately children that are born to older mothers do have a greater risk of having disorders (1 out of 9 children born to mothers over 45 have Down Syndrome). In this case apparently the eggs were taken from her at the earlier age and kept frozen until she was prepared to have children. So technically the baby did not develop from a 63 year-old egg. I do not know what the risks were of having children with birth defects under these circumstances but if the risks are great then the practice should not be allowed. The aspring mother should consider adoption instead.

Date: Wed, Mar 24, 1999 5:43 PM From: To:
Hello, the chance of this woman being a great mother or should I say an experienced grandmother is possible. However, this particular woman had many, many, many years to have a child. Either these people will raise this child to be dependent on itself for making ethical desicions or this child will be spoiled rotten. The future for this child will be promising for who knows how long its parents will be around therefore the parents money could afford to award this human with a promising education. Lets think about the teen years where high school activites and friendships play an important role in ones life. They better have a full time taxi cab driver, this woman will be 76 years old when the child is 13 and discovering it own life and needs guidance and support with its decisions for its well being.Good luck, I cant see a 76 years old mother and father tolerating " Spice Girls "? Have fun.

Date: Wed, Mar 3, 1999 2:57 PM From: To:
I am amazed to see so many people with disagreement for this subject. It is clear to me that most if not all of these people have never had to deal with infertility, and for their sakes I hope they never do. As to the question of this woman being too old to be a mother, and that she may die very soon, i had my daughter at the age of 25years, and could get hit by a bus tomorrow, so does that mean I shouldn't have kids either? As for her lying about her age, try to put yourselves in her shoes, and see if you would have acted differently. Leave the woman alone to get on with her business :))
Tracey Rowe, Therapeutics,, ICQ: 26877644

Date: Thu, Nov 5, 1998 11:05 AM From: To:
I read the discussions on this page and I have an opinion which is not really represented here. I do agree that an older woman will have more wisdom and stability with which to raise a child. And also that she will probably die before her child will benefit much from this wisdom about life. I believe that most of the fertility treatments available today are a bad idea. If people are either infertile, or past the age of fertility, they should not be artificially enabled to bear children. This, to me, has nothing to do with what God would want (being quite agnostic), but more of what nature itself dictates. Looking at the big picture, do we really need to indulge ourselves so exessively and create more people for the overpopulated world? -- and this arguement even has some validity when you are not talking about involving unnatural, complex, and expensive hormones, drugs, needles, in vitro fertilization, and/or other fertility "solutions." There are plenty of kids (already born and naturally, at that) who need to be adopted if she is looking for a child to care for. If not, then she is only looking to be in Guinness and is obviously not very mature at her advanced age anyway.
*Sarah M. student - University of Michigan

Date: Fri, Sep 18, 1998 2:57 PM From: To: that is something you don't hear about everyday! Although I am not really sure if I think that such a scientific development is unethical, I don't think that I really believe in the intelligence of the act. There are so many issues to be considered when discussing an elderly mom. Personally, I think that it is unfair to the child. Just like those children born to adolescents, girls who got pregnant before they were mature enough to handle the responsibility, a child with an extravagently older mother is at a bit of a disadvantage. While, granted, a mother and child should not be too close in age, a generation gap that actually spans over at least two generations does not allow the mother and child to relate to each other well enough for a healthy relationship. Its hard enough trying to get the other family memeber to understand with normal age gaps. There is also the issue of the mother's untimely death early in the child's life. Although death is an inevitability, I am of the opinion that an elderly mother is possibly forcing the child to have to deal with the grief of death too early in life. It is difficult to deal with the death of a loved one, harder still if the deceased is a family memeber. But nothing in the world can replace a mother's love, and to have to lose that love too early in life is not an event that a child should have to deal with if it is otherwise avoidable.

[Ed. Note: I am not sure whether all three messages below are from the same student or three students.] Date: Fri, May 15, 1998 8:44 AM From: sheilac@kalama.doe.Hawaii.Edu To:
I don't think this is wrong but i do think it's gross. At long as they think about her dying befor the child hits puberty. And not if she has to take drugs. ...
I don't feel that it was right for a 63 year old women to give birth. She should have thought about the unborn child and the consequences that may have occured. Plus she had to take fertility drugs so she could get pregnant. The baby and herself could have been put in danger. ...
Well I think its wrong for a old woman as old as 63 years of age should have a child because by the time the child grows older he probably wont even see his or her mother due to her death.

Date: Wed, Mar 18, 1998 12:42 PM From: To:
I feel that it was wrong for the grandmother, excuse me, mother to lie about her age to recieve tha treatment. Because she could have risked her life to make a life. What if complications were to occur during delivery. Today many complications began when labor begins. This old women could have had a heart attack and put her life as well as the childs life in danger. Also, when this child becomes of age to wanting a role model, she can't look to her mom as one. Because she will most likely be sitting in a rocking chair still recovering from giving birth. This child will also be looking for grandparents, uncles, aunts, just some type of family member. To bad they may already be dead.

Date: Sun, Nov 23, 1997 10:15 AM From: To:
I think that if God had intended for 63 year old women to have babies, that he would have made it possible for women of that age to do so. There are many complications involved with having a child at that age. When the child is entering high school, the mother will be close to 80 years old. Young children need mothers who will care for them, not the other way around. Although I do feel that people have the right to have children of their own, they should have their children at an age when they are able to care for their children. The child might also feel out of place having parents much older than the parents of their friends. The mother should have taken into consideration the stress she would be putting her child through before having it.

Date: Thu, Nov 20, 1997 6:23 PM From: To:
I do not believe that it is fair to the child to have a mother that old. My own mother was 48 when she delivered me, and I constantly received ridicule from the children at school because my mom looked like she should be my grandma. People need to think about the ramifications that this can have on the child.

Date: Sun, Nov 9, 1997 4:27 PM From: To:
I personally think that it is a person's decision whether or not they want a child and at what age they want to have it. I know people that are teenagers that have parents that are over 50 and 60 years old, and some of them have younger brothers or sisters. Obviously their parents wanted their to grow, at what age they decide to do this is up to them. BUT, I do also believe that if a couple who is over 50 and 60 years old, wants to have a child, then let them do it naturally, without invitro fertilization. If they are too old to bear a child at that age, then they should see that as a sign from God that they missed their chance.

Date: Fri, Nov 7, 1997 5:50 PM From: To:
I believe that it is quite absurd to even consider whether having a child at 63 yrs of age is ethical or not. In today's society where people typically live to see 100, it is quite alright for a mom to have a child that late, though there are many risks involved in this late pregrancy. After all, millions of American parents have used their own parents as baby sitters and we all seem to grow and develope to be fine. A 63yr old mother is much more preferable and better at raising a child than a 12yr old.
-Sinjin, Berkeley, CA

Date: Sat, Oct 25, 1997 8:09 PM From: To:
I don't believe we can ever say that a person does not have the right to have a child (or at what age), in order to enforce that view unethical measures would have to taken. However, I do not believe that what this woman did was ethical. In the first place let us not forget that the woman lied about her age to go through the procedure. But with that aside, I still think she gave little thought to the needs of a child. A child needs more than wisdom and love, he needs a parent physically able to deal with his demands. The child may turn out just fine, but the risk is increased with the age of the parents. It is well and good to know the child is wanted and loved but I think the age of this couple puts an unnecessary burden on the child. The child will have to deal with the thought of his parents dying much earlier than the average child does, not to mention that he may be faced with having to take care of his aging parents. This is a situation a 20 or 30 yr old is better equipped to deal with, not a 10 yr old. Children are faced with many disadvantages in the world, but to have no parents is the greatest of all. As I said before, the woman had a right to do what she did, but that does not make her choice a moral one.

Date: Fri, Sep 26, 1997 5:13 PM From: To:
I think it is her right to have the child. I do wonder about the child. She would be about 80 years old when the child graduates high school. Can you imagine the child in grade school and her 67 to 73 year old mother discussing the child's progress with the teacher? It seems to me that the child will be subjected to a lot of stressful situations because of the mother's age.
Jamie Thomas, OU College of Nursing

Date: Sat, Jul 26, 1997 7:32 AM From: (William H. Reading, MD) To:
It seems rather to me that this could be assumed to be ethical unless proven otherwise. See my comments regarding life in the response to Gov. Lamm's statement. Is it ethical to force Chinese mothers to abort? Would it be ethical to single out one type of individual and say that this individual should not be allowed to give birth when others are? How would you decide who has the intrinsic right to give birth? The issues regarding a 63 year old mother seem to be about the same as an HIV positive mother given current treatment options.

Date: Wed, Jul 16, 1997 7:39 AM From: To:
If the parents are in good health there is no reason not to allow this. Certainly there are more considerations to becoming a parent at 65 but why are we so concerned? Older parents have the advantage of maturity, and hopefully wisdom. They are quite likely to be more financially secure, and today still stand at least a somewhat reasonable chance of outliving there child. And then again what business is it of ours to dictate what is right and or wrong to would be parents at this age? We will not even adequately address the issue of teen pregnancies, and that is an issue which we KNOW has drastic societal costs. Yes there are potential problems, but if you think about them they are mostly emotional ones of acceptance of an idea with which we are unfamiliar. This couple with forethought conceived and bore a child. How many Grandparents have had one forced upon them? Either because of their own children's inability to cope with the consequences of their actions, or as is far less often the case by the circumstances of a tragedy which left the parents of the child or children dead or permanently incapacitated. I have not addressed many issues that I have heard raised about this occurance as they are ,to me at least, non-issues.
To Dr Bernstein thank you for this forum it is much appeciated
Chuck Masters RN


At Monday, May 08, 2006 11:05:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dr. Bernstein, I'm sorry that I'm weighing in on this so late, but things have been a bit hectic.

I'm somewhat divided on the question of the 63 year old IVF mother ...

First of all, I believe that she has the right to look for someone to perform the necessary procedures on her, and I also believe that if a physician is inclined to help her, that he should be allowed to do so.

However, I'd have to hope that a physician would counsel against the procedure, even if he thought she was a decade younger. The possibility of complications is a very real consideration for a woman of that age ... and for a child born from a woman of that age. I'm not sure that I would want to be her obstetrician, either.

When I was born, my mother was nearly 40, and my father was 50. They were excellent parents, however neither of them spent much time doing things the younger parents did with their children as families. My husband, who is nearly 8 years my senior, just lost his father last year, and we still have the joy of his mother's presence. My own parents have been gone for a long time. They weren't there to share much of my life, and my two younger children barely remember my father, who will have been gone for 19 years this coming October.

I believe that if a woman of 63 became pregnant naturally, that she should take responsibilty for her actions ... however I believe that a woman of that age becoming pregnant by IVP is hugely irresponsible, and shows very little concern for the extended well being of the child.

I'd have to wonder how the child will see the situation that brought him into the world ...

You haven't told us how you feel about it, Dr. Bernstein ...

At Tuesday, May 09, 2006 9:22:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I understand the concern expressed by those worried that an aged mother won't be around for much of her child's life, I think just a bit of historical perspective will temper those concerns. Until quite recently in human history, a woman giving birth at the age of 20 couldn't realisticlly expect to be around to see if her child was lucky enough to reach adulthood.

At Thursday, June 15, 2006 4:23:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First let me say congratulations! I am an 18 yr old female who became pregnant due to a best friend tampering with birth control as a joke(NOT FUNNY)and i then decided i couldn't have a child due to schooling and mainly due to what others would think i therefore had an abortion and have now found out i am unable to have children. There is not One day that goes by that my partner and I don't think about our would have been baby and how much we wish we could turn back the clock so our baby would be with us in our arms. This lady is the luckiest lady alive and i hope she knows how wonderfull her miracle is and doesn't take it for granted.
-Kind regards

At Monday, May 28, 2007 5:38:00 PM, Blogger Maurice Bernstein, M.D. said...

Here is a response to this thread as sent to me by Jeff Dearman by e-mail. ..Maurice.

There should be an age when any moral person would decide that they are too old to have children. It is not right to raise a child to like 10-20 and then be elderly or almost near the dying stages of life. Yes, people are living longer and soon will live over 100 . But its still not right. I can see maybe 40-50 as the limit for children and if you havent had children by then you should consider not having children not only to help save the population of our planet and our environment from an already overcrowded planet, but also to make sure that the child wont have to suffer the loss of a parent when they are in their 10's or 20's....or early 30's.

My own parents are nearing 60-70 and I am only 30. (this july)....I wish sometimes I could have had 20 extra yrs with them than I have. but I know it is not possible. I know they probably have 20-40 more years left dpeending on how long they live and yes thats a long time, but not as long as it would have been if they had gotten married earlier. Of course if they had gotten married earlier, I might have not been born, or been a different person all together. But still I think there comes a time when people should use common sense and realize there is an aget when its just not right to have children ...and will add a burden onto a young child/teenager when they have to deal with elderly parents at such an early age. its just not right IMHO.

Winchester, MA

At Monday, March 30, 2009 8:28:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I came across your article, I am 52 and have been a foster parent for several years. We currently have a foster child that has been with us for the last year and half and we are seriously thinking of adopting. I was concerned about our age, my husband and I are both 52 and our little one just turned 2. Our oldest biological child is 30 our youngest is 25. I was afraid I was the one being selfish, and wanting a child, not thinking about what was best for her. After reading so many remarks about what is important in a childs life, I must agree, its being rocked at night, being there when they cry out from a nightmare, and kissing booboos away. You don't have to be a young women to do this. Little ones need love and the feeling of being secure. Our little ones mother was 23 years old and left her abandonded for several days before she was found. So tell me who is the better parent? I am a better parent today at 52 then I was when my daughter was born at 22. Why?, becuase I am older, wiser and experianced. Do I think being 63 and having a child is a good idea, that is not for me to judge. That child was born in 1997, 12 years ago, I would love to see an update on mother and child today.

At Friday, December 17, 2010 7:03:00 PM, Blogger Maurice Bernstein, M.D. said...

Here is another response sent to the now inactive Bioethics Discussion Pages by Sean today. ..Maurice.

The girl is now 13 years old. Ask her if she regrets being born? Ask her if she despises her parents for having her. Does the girl believe she’d be better off never having been born? I doubt it. But there is no ethical question at all if the girl values her life.

Is this so complicated? Two people had a child. In their 60’s they are a lot more likely to be responsible parents than so many in their teens. We don’t talk about whether it is ethical for teens to have kids. We discuss whether they are capable of providing for babies when they have not even learned to provide for themselves.

Parents in their 60’s are not unlikely to have that problem especially if they can afford the expensive procedures. Generally parents in their 60’s are going to have a lot more stability, love, time, patience, appreciation, and devotion to their children – not having to figure out how to put food on the table, being driven by careers, a thousand times more likely to be socially adjusted, are more likely to take an interest in the child’s development, and are far less likely to neglect or endanger the child. Young fathers are more likely to have automobile accidents, sporting accidents and injuries.

There are so many balancing factors that I can’t image this even being considered as an ethical discussion.

The entire Jewish race exists because a woman in her 90’s had a little baby they named Isaac. Are we going to discuss the ethics of that? If not then we have no place discussing the ethics of a couple in their 60’s.


At Thursday, May 10, 2012 9:11:00 PM, Blogger Maurice Bernstein, M.D. said...

Here is even another response to my now inactive Bioethics Discussion Pages which I received today. ..Maurice.

Prim 20 and my parents are 81 and extremely old fashioned and even lied to me my
whole life saying it was a natural birth when last year i found out from a
friend not eventhem i was ivf born. And til this day question my identity .I was
born through surrogacy and it's not ethical it's selfish and you as a parent
must think of a child's future and I will add that my future involved a lot of
pain and agony from cooking for the family at age 9 to working as secretary for
my father since 13 and consistently have to think if they will wake up in the
morning bc of there medical issues. Doc there should be an age restriction and I
still face the most depression for the past 4 years and don't know what to even
do If u want respond I'd appreciate some help

At Tuesday, February 05, 2013 8:36:00 PM, Blogger Maurice Bernstein, M.D. said...

Today I found a visitor having written the following to my now inactive "Bioethics Discussion Pages" ..Maurice.

On my opinion being a mom at 63 is wrong for both gender. It doesn't matter the
sex but it is just wrong because the mother or father of 63 years old don't
provide the child with the basic things a kid needs from parents like coaching
throughout the kids life time instead the child might suffer from watching his
parents dying every day due to multiple old age physical and psychological
illnesses. The child might see his parents hospitalized many times throughout
his life and he might have to spend most of his time in hospitals rather than
playing games with his friends. He has to miss classes because he needs to take
care of his old parents by himself. I say it is a punishment for the kid even if
it is a blessing for the parents. Having a child should not be about the
parents it should be about the child. The only reason one should have have kids
is because they want to give them the best life they have ever imagined and make
them a better person to their family and their community.


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