DISCUSSIONS: 6- (June 16) Should laws regulate the age limit of becoming a parent?

Gurjeet Kaur’s mother is 59 years old. Her mother gave birth to Gurjeet when she was 58.

More women are putting off child birth to later years but science is pushing the limit on what the age limit can be. There have been healthy births in the world to women in their 60s and even one woman of 70.

Gurjeet with her mother, 59 and father, over 70.

Should society (government) have the right to control people’s rights to personal freedom in regard to having children?

This is becoming an increasingly difficult question to answer as science continually pushes medical frontiers further and further.

Mahinder Singh Gill, 79 and his wife, Daljinder Kaur, 70 had a baby together in 2016. IVF doctors keep on pushing the age limits but at some point, ethical, practical questions must trump biological and medical capabilities.

Social pressures, cultural isolation were so strong, so stressing, the Singhs felt they had to find a way to have a baby. They found Dr. Anurag Bishnoi, a gynaecologist operating an IVF clinic near Ellenabad, India. Bishnoi is called many things. ‘God’ and ‘quack’ top the list.

He operates his clinic giving older women the opportunity of late life childbirth after they have passed his physical, economic and emotionally criteria for having a child at that age. His fee for one cycle of IVF is the equivalent to $1700 US, so accusing him of financial exploitation is a stretch.

Bishnoi does advise couples consider adoption or surrogacy both of which are frowned culturally. In 2016, there were only 2,210 adoptions in all of India, partly because of daunting levels of bureaucracy as well as deterrents from the caste system and religious beliefs.

Practicality, biology and nature dictate late-life parenthood is less than acceptable
A neighbour in her mid 30’s gave birth to a son last year. She lamented that she can hardly keep with the energized baby. She has another child nearing 3 years of age. Imagine the parental energy gap if the parents are in their 60’s or older. That’s the front end problem.

The back end problem is that the child will very likely be an orphan before reaching young adulthood. People live longer and live better lives but the actuarial statistics do not favour septuagenarians or octogenarians. The child will suffer.

Ethical guidelines around the world recommend a cut-off between 45 and 50 for having a child. Insurance companies in Europe and the USA stop paying for IVF procedures after 45. Ontario funds IVF treatment only to those under 43.

Should limits for childbirth be legislated by governments/society?

Source: Associated Press, Muneeza Naqvi

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