“Is That Your Grandmother? No, That’s My Mom!”

Marilyn BoskeyGUEST BLOGGER Marilyn Boskey

In 2006, Maria del Carmen Bousada received in vitro fertilization (IVF) from the Pacific Fertility Center in Los Angeles, CA.  At age 66, she was well above the 55-year-old age limit.  Bousada claimed that they did not ask her for any identification, and she simply told them she was 55.  With the birth of her twin sons in December 2006, she became the oldest new mom, according to the Guinness Book of World Records (although that record now belongs to a 70-year-old-woman in India).  Whenever she was criticized for being too old to have children, Bousada would cite her own mother’s 101-year life span.  Unfortunately, soon after the birth of her sons, she was diagnosed with a tumor.  Bousada died this week at the age of 69–her twin boys are only 2.

This is only the latest in a string of news stories that paint IVF in a negative light in recent months.  The birth of octuplets to Nadya Suleman and the recent divorce proceedings between Jon and Kate Gosselin, who used IVF twice to give birth to twins and sextuplets, have caused many to question the regulation of IVF as well as the psychological and physical effects on children. An article in The New York Times provides data that 70% of survey respondents want tougher standards on IVF, and 50% believe that women over the age of 45 are unfit to become mothers.  Although assisted reproduction has allowed many young families the opportunity to have children when they cannot naturally, it has also lead to questions such as the one Maria Bousada’s death creates.  How old is too old to be a new mom?

I think this should be a broader question.  How old is too old to be a new parent?  Bousada’s death raises questions about motherhood because she is a single mom, but men often father children late into life.  However, this can be done more naturally, whereas women require assisted reproduction (or biblical miracles) to give birth after menopause.  I think that if someone believes they can be a good mother or father and truly believe they can provide a healthy life for a baby, they have the right to have children–they should just make sure they have a plan in case the worst happens and they leave a young child parentless, but this is something parents of any age should do.

Marilyn Boskey is an Administrative Assistant at ISLAT.  She is currently a senior Politics, History, and Economics student at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.  She plans to attend law school in 2010.

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