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
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before