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Arthur Caplan, Bioethicist

“Most people faced with the prospect of becoming a parent at 60 would rather visit a psychiatrist than a fertility specialist,” says Arthur Caplan, a bioethicist from New York University Langone Medical Centre, in an article published by Canada’s Postmedia yesterday.

It begs the question of what illustrious celebrities such as Larry King, Elton John, or Paul McCartney—who had their children past the age of 60—might say in response.

But let us not rush to take Caplan’s commentary out context. In this instance at least, the subject was women.


How old is too old?


Rajo Devi Lohan

His comment, in Pregnancy After 50: Using egg, embryo donations to extend a woman’s reproductive life (http://www NULL.ottawacitizen NULL.com/health/Pregnancy+after+Using+embryo+donations+extend+woman/8111736/story NULL.html), comes on the heels of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine’s (http://www NULL.asrm NULL.org/) more liberal stance on women over 50 attempting to get pregnant using donor eggs.

While the ASRM says that post-menopausal women should no longer be “discouraged” from using donor eggs or embryos—provided there are fit enough to parent—the Postmedia feature enumerates a long list of reasons why they shouldn’t:

“How old is too old?” the article chirrups with the equally old chestnut.  (If in doubt, just Google “How old is too old to be a mom?”) Or: “Is it in the best interests of the child to have a mother old enough to be a grandmother?”


Millions of grandparents doing the parenting

Kristine Casey: birth at 61

Was it only as recently as 2010 that the world applauded 61-year-old Kristine Casey for giving birth to her own grandson when her daughter could not carry a pregnancy? But she was exempt from criticism: she had no plans of raising the child.

Caplan (http://pophealth NULL.med NULL.nyu NULL.edu/about-us/faculty#caplaa01) criticizes the elderly matrons who visit fertility clinics by stating that children do not need parents who are “entering a nursing home” as they are “entering high school”.

The truth is that, in great numbers, older women have been effectively raising children for years.  In 2010, 4.9 million children (http://www NULL.aarp NULL.org/relationships/grandparenting/info-12-2010/more_grandparents_raising_grandchildren NULL.html) lived in grandparent-headed households, and few have questioned their fitness for parenting.


“World’s Oldest Mother”

Carmen Bousada de Lara

Yet, since women like Carmen Bousada de Lara (http://en NULL.wikipedia NULL.org/wiki/Maria_del_Carmen_Bousada_de_Lara), Spain, Susan Tollefsen, UK, and Rajo Devi Lohan, India, gave birth between the ages of 50 and 70 over the last decade, the media has continued to stage the title championship for World’s Oldest Mother (http://www NULL.dailymail NULL.co NULL.uk/news/article-1031722/Worlds-oldest-mother-gives-birth-twins-70 NULL.html).

Why aren’t they doing the same for dads?

But then, Dr. Paula Amato—who has participated on an AChildAfter40.com expert panel—is quick to point out the age-old double standard: “Certainly nobody would tell a man that he couldn’t reproduce after a certain age,” she says.


The right to make reproductive choices

Dr. Paula Amato

A Canadian reproductive endocrinologist, based out of Oregon, Amato cuts to the heart of the matter: that what takes precedence is patient autonomy—that “in this country…people have the right to make their own reproductive choices”.

Individual rights—and, more specifically, the rights of women—is something Americans understand very well.


Notes for this blog:

Read more of the Postmedia article: http://www.canada.com/health/Pregnancy+after+Using+embryo+donations+extend+woman+reproductive+life/8111736/story.html#ixzz2NvYywsqr (http://www NULL.canada NULL.com/health/Pregnancy+after+Using+embryo+donations+extend+woman+reproductive+life/8111736/story NULL.html#ixzz2NvYywsqr)


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3 Responses to Motherhood At 60? See A Psychiatrist!

  1. Lylas says:

    When men are required to give up their rights to new parenthood after 50, then women will.

  2. Valerie says:

    Sadly it shows how uninformed he is when women in their 20s, 30s and 40s rely on egg or embryo donation. Amazing the lack of forward thinking. I agree with the comment above that no one tells men to go get a “V” at 50 so they won’t have any more children. GRRRRRR

  3. Lisette Lopez says:

    God has created the women in such in outstanding way; I don’t have the words to express how amazing we are. I share my body with my husband; anyone outside of our union does not have a say. If you are healthy, strong and above have a heart to love another person you should have your baby. I will keep you all in my prayers.

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