February 26, 2024

Septuagenarian mothers

Below is an article about a 73-year-old Indian woman who has just given birth to twin boys. This is a story which used to fly onto the front page, but is now a bit ho-hum. To stir media interest, we need to break through the next barrier. “Centenarian gives birth to twins, say Indian doctors” – now that would be newsworthy, I think. At least the first centenarian would.

The ho-hum factor may account for the fact that few questions were raised about obvious ethical issues involved in septuagenarians giving birth.

First of all, it is obviously reinforcing a sexist stereotype – that a woman is useless unless she has children. Furthermore, despite reassuring words from the doctors, it is a serious risk to the mother’s health.

Second, the children of a 73-year-old mother will soon be orphans. In fact, their father had a stroke on the day after they were born. No one seems to be thinking about their welfare and their future. They are just status symbols for their parents and the doctors.

Why did the doctors cooperate? For the money? For the fame? It strikes me as completely unethical.

Michael Cook
Is it ethical?