Pregnant at 66 and putting choice in context

In the news today is Elizabeth Adeney, a 66-year-old woman who is pregnant. Let the shame-fest begin!

Professor Severino Antinori, who treated Rashbrook and has pioneered the IVF techniques involved in impregnating older women, said Munro, who will be 67 in July, was too old.
“I am shocked by the idea of a 66-year-old woman giving birth,” he said. “I respect the choice medically but I think anything over 63 is risky because you cannot guarantee the child will have a loving mother or family.
“It is possible to give a child to the mother up to the age of 83 but it is medically criminal to do this because the likelihood is that after a year or two the child will lose his mum and suffer from psychological problems.”

Quoth Becky Sharper:

O RLY? Because children born to young mothers are thus guaranteed “a loving mother or family”? And their mother’s gestational age ensures that those kids never lose their moms and never suffer from psychological problems? Who are you fucking kidding, buddy? A 2-minute conversation with your local social worker or family court judge will blow away that excuse. I also love how he “respects the choice medically” but then rushes to personal judgement as fast as he possibly can.

I’d add that when a man who is eligible for Social Security benefits fathers a child, we rarely see quotes about how his choice was “medically criminal.” I smell a double standard.
Each individual woman has the right to decide what’s best for her when it comes to reproduction. Women have the right to choose abortion, the right to give up a child for adoption, the right to have children without getting married first, the right to sterilization, the right to NOT be sterilized, the right to IVF treatments (regardless of their partner’s gender), and the list goes on. Debating a woman’s fitness to be a mother or what course of action is “natural” for her is essentially buying in to an anti-choice worldview in which we can define who is and who isn’t a fit mother.
Usually when the media and lawmakers weigh in on a woman’s personal reproductive choices, they target low-income women, young women, women with disabilities. Adeney’s situation is different because she is a woman in a position of relative privilege who has gotten pregnant via very expensive IVF treatments, but judgments about her decision are rooted in the same brand of sexism.
On a related note, check out the great work by National Advocates for Pregnant Women. And pick up Jeanne Flavin’s Our Bodies, Our Crimes. (All proceeds benefit NAPW!)

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