On December 29th 2006 Maria del Carmen Bousada de Lara gave birth to twin boys in Spain. Nothing strange about this you may think. Twins are born everyday and not too many people bat an eyelid. What’s so special about the birth of these twins is the age of there mother. At the time of their birth Ms. Bousada de Lara was 66 years old. At the time she was the oldest mother in the world. Almost immediately there was an outcry from the world at large. Surely sixty six was too old to have children, how could it be fair on the children when in all probability their mother won’t live to see them reach adolescence?
Ms. Bousada de Lara cited her mother’s age of 101 when she died as evidence that there was a very strong chance that she would live into her children’s early adulthood. This, as it happened, turned out to be false. On the 11th of July this year Ms. Bousada de Lara died of cancer at the age of sixty nine. Her twin boys, named Christian and Pau, the Catalan for Paul which means peace, are aged only two.
These children are now orphans as they were conceived through IVF treatment with no father figure present. It is left to Ms. Bousada de Lara’s family to look after the boys. This brings to the surface again the ethical and moral arguments against allowing fertility treatment in older women.
Every child has the right to know and grow up with their parents where circumstances permit. Sometimes this is unfortunately not possible but the odds should be stacked in favour of the parents living well into their children’s adulthood. As people, it has been shown in countless studies that we need a parent figure well into adolescence and obviously a biological parent is always going to be preferable.
The death of Ms. Bousada de Lara brings back to the fore the question of ethics regarding giving IVF treatment to older ladies. It is an incredible blessing that now we are able to give the possibility of children to people who would otherwise have been unable to have their own. The problems created by this however all stem from the fact that we are indeed tampering with nature and nature always does things for a reason even if we cannot see what that reason is. Women naturally stop been able to conceive children at an age where it would be reasonable to assume that she would see any children she had grow into adulthood. This is both beneficial to the children and the parent concerned and is intended to be this way.
Most clinics do put an age limit on the women that they will give IVF or other fertility treatments to. There is however no official age limit therefore you will always get rogue clinics. Surely this case once again highlights the need for legislation to be put in place globally to cap the age that people can receive fertility treatment. Also, although Ms. Bousada de Lara did lie about her age still there are not sufficient checks in place to check the age of the ladies going to the clinics. The doctor who helped Ms. Bousada de Lara has said, “We don’t ask for passports, obviously. When is the last time you went to a doctor and he asked you for a birth certificate? We’re not detectives here.” Why not? I think that’s the least we could do for the children, for after all at the end of the day it is they who are going to suffer. By this I am not saying that their family cannot care for them adequately. What I am saying is that they have unfairly had their chance to grow up with their natural parents taken away from them.
The question we need to ask is, is this right?