Support for motherhood in middle age

MIDDLE-AGED women who want to become mothers won the support of the medical profession yesterday.

Doctors at the British Medical Association conference threw out a proposal which deplored the use of fertility treatment for women beyond the age of the menopause.

Dr Fay Wilson, a Birmingham GP, told the largely male audience that they would make themselves look ridiculous if they voted for the 'ageist' policy.

'We are supposed to be doctors with a caring ethic towards individuals. We should not be regulators of society or be tempted to play God.'

Dr Wilson said it was not natural any more to die from appendicitis, from TB or from measles, and she asked why it should be unethical to be pregnant once the normal age of a natural menopause had passed.

'So what about elderly fathers?' she asked. 'This is an old- fashioned motion about the control by men of the bodies of women and, in particular, over their reproductive function of which men are superstitiously afraid - born from the same fear as hunting witches.'

Early in the year news of post- menopausal women becoming pregnant through fertility treatment abroad caused widespread protest.

A 63-year-old Italian gave birth and a 59-year-old British woman had twins following treatment at a Rome clinic.

In Britain, about 12 women in their early fifties are known to have received fertility treatment.

The Human Fertilisation Embryology Authority, which has not approved treatment for older women, is keeping a watching brief on developments and says all cases should be treated on merit.

During the debate Dr Ralph Lawrence, from Derby, said that older women were at more risk of complications with their pregnancies and unlikely to have 'the emotional and physical ability and stamina' to raise small children and lose sleep at night.

'This decision must not be a social whim. By the time the child is a teenager he could rightly say that his mother is too old to understand his problems and needs.'

But Dr Sandy Mcara, chairman of the BMA, said that the menopause should not be a determinant of fertility treatment. Each case had to be decided individually.

Dr Stewart Horner, chairman of the BMA ethics committee, said after the debate that there was at least a 10-year variation, from the age of 45 to 55, when the menopause might naturally happen.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Recruitment Genius: Production Operative

£13000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to a period of sustained an...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering