Letter: Ageing mothers, fatherless children

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The Independent Online
Sir: So the French health minister finds the idea of artificially producing children from older mothers 'absolutely shocking' ('Pressure grows for curb on fertility treatments', 4 January). We should not forget how shocking the emancipation of slaves and women appeared to racists and sexists in previous ages. Philippe Douste-Blazy's ageist gut reaction is no different.

He suggests that a child of 18 does not 'deserve' a mother of 80. What can it mean to say that a child 'deserves' a parent of any age? If any child were not to have the parents they do have, they would not be the child they are.

Perhaps the minister means that it is somehow bad for a child to have an older mother. But if I were a happy and fulfilled child of 18 with a mother of 80, I should not look kindly upon a political proposal that would prevent others like me coming into existence and which could be supported by nothing other than prejudice.

Virginia Bottomley, Secretary of State for Health, is a member of a government committed to extending the freedom of the individual from state intervention. For her to follow any French lead in doing just the opposite by legislating against fertility treatment for older women would not only be intolerable. It would also be hypocritical.

Yours faithfully,

ROGER CRISP

Fellow in Philosophy

St Anne's College

Oxford

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