Letter: No age limits on motherhood

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The Independent Online
Sir: There has been considerable press and radio coverage of the birth of twins to a 59-year-old woman. A medical expert on the Today programme condemned the event as unnatural. I would have thought any medical treatment was unnatural - but I doubt that those who have benefited from heart, lung or kidney transplants would want to condemn the practice.

Other commentators have challenged a woman's right to have a baby, or babies, at 59 on the grounds that she is likely to lack the energy of a younger mother and may die while her child is relatively young. I know of no guarantee that young women have energy. I have a second cousin in her twenties with MS who certainly does not have the 'normal' energy of a woman of 27. Nor is youth a guarantee against death - regrettably, young mothers of young children can, and do, die.

The argument about age and the right to become a parent do not appear to apply to men - the media reported that an actor in his late seventies had fathered yet another child only a few months ago, with no criticism of him on the grounds that he might not live to see the child fully grown and with no suggestion that he might lack the energy of a younger father.

The Secretary of State for Health is reported as being concerned about the ethics of a 59- year-old woman having a baby. I'm not a baby - I'm a 47-year-old woman who has been an enthusiastic user of hormone replacement therapy for nine years. I have no plans to produce any children. But if I were a baby, I think that I would prefer to be the much- wanted and loved child of a 59- year-old than a possibly unwanted and certainly neglected child left alone at Christmas.

I doubt that many women in their late fifties would want to take on the task of caring for and bringing up a new baby. But I can see no reason why someone with the commitment to do so should be denied that right if she has the means to do it.

Yours sincerely,

RITA HALE

London, N1

27 December

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