Carmela Bousada, a 67-year-old retired Spanish department store clerk, gave birth to twin boys Dec. 29 in Barcelona. Over the weekend, the single mother admitted to European reporters that she had deceived [Dr. Vicken] Sahakian [of the Pacific Fertility Center] in order to become pregnant.
Cathy Seipp responds:
Yet did any honest reader come across that story this week about the 67-year-old Barcelona woman who just gave birth to twins - by lying about her age to a Los Angeles fertility doctor - and not relexively think: Freak show?
Actually my first, "reflexive" thought was: Wow, good for her. Oh, but wait, I forgot - Cathy Seipp can read minds. I am not being "honest".
Cathy explains what's really bothering her:
Leaving aside all the increased health risks to these older mothers and their babies, the cold, hard reason your life and health insurance premiums rise each year is that the longer you live, the more likely it is that the passage of time means you will, in the near future, sicken and die.
Is that a fact? Gosh, sure wish I'd thought of that. I'll bet that 67-year-old woman never thought of it either. Now how about this for a concept: As we grow older, we often become more acutely aware of our own mortality, and of the need to leave something of ourselves behind to carry on. I would have thought that the right-hand side of the blogosphere, which has been sounding warnings about the falling birthrate in Western countries (interspersed with stern admonitions about the "selfishness" of failing to "be fruitful and multiply") would get this; can't we leave the mom-bashing to the left-wing moonbats?
Now, I wouldn't want to be in the shoes of Dr. Sahakian, or of the clinic's director, Dr. Richard J. Paulson. The clinic's policy of not wanting to be party to a risky pregnancy is, from their standpoint, only prudent. But Bousada passed their health screening, knew the risks, and accepted them of her own free will. And even Paulson opposes a government-imposed age limit:
"As soon as you get into an area of zero tolerance, it's easy to find a case when regulation becomes wrong or harmful," Paulson said in an interview Monday. "To go and try to interfere with someone's reproductive rights is a very touchy area."
A more serious issue is the question of "who will look after the kids?" The LA Times article notes that Bousada is a single mother, and that the clinic's policy is not to treat either single women over 55 or married women when the combined age of the couple is 110. So by my math, Bousada could have avoided the whole mess by marrying a 42-year-old man before going to the clinic. As it is, though,
Bousada said she is looking for a younger man to marry and be the father of her sons.
- which seems sensible enough.
So, what is Cathy Seipp's issue with all of this, exactly?
Sure, older men can still marry younger women and father children. We all know about Tony Randall et al. But why spend tens of thousands of dollars to raise the odds that a child will grow up motherless?
So, it is not simply a parent (i.e. a surviving younger husband) that is essential, but, specifically, a mother. By this reasoning, then, no woman with a terminal or life-threatening disease ought to consider getting pregnant, for fear of bringing into the world a child who will be left motherless. (Presumably a stepmother through the husband's remarriage doesn't count.)
But wait! That's not the real problem either, apparently:
Those aging celebrites like Geena Davis and Angela Bassett you see giving birth in their late ’40s and beyond can afford expensive fertility treatments. If they die before the babies grow up, at least they have enough money to make sure their children will be well provided for.
So according to Seipp, the "motherless child" objection can be offset by a sufficient bank account.
No, the real problem for Cathy Seipp is that she just thinks it's gross. She makes that clear with her initial assessment of the situation - "freak show" - and with her column title: "A new low."
Having a baby at 67, "a new low"? Maybe, but not as low as this 90-year-old woman:
18:11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, and well stricken in age; it had ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women.--
18:12 And Sarah laughed within herself, saying: 'After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?'
18:13 And the Lord said unto Abraham: 'Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying: Shall I of a surety bear a child, who am old?
18:14 Is any thing too hard for the Lord. At the set time I will return unto thee, when the season cometh round, and Sarah shall have a son.'