They Calling Her Selfish – Here’s Why
A woman of 62 recently gave birth to a healthy infant, delivered at 34 weeks in a private hospital in Melbourne, Australia. The woman’s decision to give birth at the age of 62 has stirred outspoken controversy. The public has weighed in with statements calling her selfish and accusing her of human rights violations.
“Selfish! Wrong!”Tweeted the president of the Australian Medical Association.
Dr. Michael Gannon slammed the recent, record-breaking birth with exasperated comments on women’s health priorities and societal responsibilities.
“This is a rights issue,” he lamented. “Consider rights of the child, society, taxpayer. Madness! Not designed to have kids in 60s’.”
Is the woman, at 62, selfish?
There are two perspectives to look at here, the woman’s possible reason for her ‘selfish’ decision, and the public and medical outrage pertaining to it.
In spite of uninformed comments asking if the medical community wanted to ‘prove something’ by assisting a 62-year-old woman to give birth against her inclinations, the facts speak otherwise. The woman had endured many in vitro procedures for several years, all unsuccessful. The successful live birth was facilitated with an embryo donated overseas. The birth celebrates the couple’s first child. The father of the child is 78 years old.
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Although society in the United States advocates ‘choice’ and many women do not wish children, in other cultures a child is the fulfillment of family and cultural expectations. In Afghanistan, for example, large families are considered the norm.
A woman who does not have children in cultures with these expectations is considered a disappointment to husband and family, possibly a selfish woman.
Nicole Ciomek, a cancer survivor and blogger, speaks for many in the U.S., as well.
“Yet there is still this attitude,” She ponders,”one that I think is usually not openly expressed, or if it is, hastily: If you are not a mother, you have nothing.”
Many childless women did not expect to be childless. Some are willing to go to any lengths to become a mother, even to give birth at the age of 62.
Medical knowledge lies contrary to such a procedure.
Research supports the evidence that, not only is it more difficult to conceive after the age of 35, but that older women have an increased risk of miscarriage. The live birth rate for in vitro fertilization success in women over 42 lies at only five percent.
Both older mothers and their infants are subject to more risk of complications during a pregnancy, including high blood pressure, which contributes greatly to danger for both mother and infant. The risk for complicated, multiple births increases after the age of 35, as do the chances of giving birth to an infant with Down’s syndrome.
Prolonged labor and need for assisted delivery such as a Caesarean section become more prevalent. Women who give birth at later ages may not be aware that they are diabetic, have high blood pressure, or that over-weight complicates a pregnancy and puts it into a high-risk category.
There is no law in the U.S. prohibiting a woman of 62 from making the ‘selfish’ decision to embark upon an IVF procedure. In fact, fertility doctors are aware that most of the pregnancies are the result of donor embryos, lowering the risk of genetic, age-related abnormalities. Doctors know that, with proper supervision, a woman may have a successful pregnancy in her 50s or 60s.
Is a woman, at 62, selfish for desiring childbirth?
Dr. Eric Flisser, a Long Island Medical director for Reproductive Medical Associates of New York sums up the dilemma:
“If a woman is capable of becoming pregnant, on what grounds do you have to deny her services?”