RSS
Maria del Carmen Bousada and IVF
What the death of the oldest confirmed new mother says about post-menopausal in vitro fertilization
 

Spaniard Maria del Carmen Bousada de Lara gave birth to twin boys in 2006, at age 66, said Jacob Appel in The Huffington Post, controversially becoming the oldest confirmed mother in the world. Her recent death, before her sons’ third birthday, will likely renew debate on the “ethics of offering in vitro fertilization to women in their 60s and 70s.” But if we have no trouble accepting octogenarian fathers, why a double standard for women?

For one thing, giving birth puts women’s health at risk, said Cassandra Jardine in Britain’s Telegraph, and high-estrogen fertilization treatments might well increase the incidence of some types of cancer. Bousada de Lara’s fatal cancer may not have been related to her “late, hormonally-induced motherhood,” but even cancer-free it's unlikely she would have survived to see her boys grow up. She gambled on living to 101, she lost, and someone else "will now have to care for her 2-year-old twins.”

It’s “a terrible shame that two children have lost their mother,” said Sarah Vine in The Times of London, “but that does not mean they should never have been born.” Presumably, Bousada de Lara was a better mom than a younger woman who is a child molester would be. And if you cut off a woman from giving birth at 66, “where do you stop?” Smokers? Female soldiers? Policewomen? This “wave of moral outrage” could take us to some pretty uncomfortable places.

 

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week