I fear I must once again court controversy, stick my neck out, and potentially alienate a good proportion of my audience.
Some news from the annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology. That’s quite a mouthful. How about Yearly Meeting About How to Have Babies? Just a thought.
One of the more eyebrow-lifting presentations was from one Konstantinos Pantos. As you may have guessed he is Greek, and works for an IVF outfit called Genesis, based in Athens. It’s quite highly regarded, and has treated involuntarily infertile women from the UK.
Dr Pantos was the bearer (haha) of good news. The pointyheads at Genesis have found a way to reverse the menopause. He also thinks the technique, which has been used on relatively recently menopausal women, could work in those who have been post menopausal for ten or 15 years. That means that women as old as 60 to 65 could become pregnant, thanks to the wonder of platelet-rich plasma.
I’ll have more of an opinion on the efficacy of this technique as and when we get some clinical data, but I’d not get too excited just yet. Similarly I can’t offer an opinion on the safety aspects, because as yet we don’t know. However, I do have an opinion on the ethics, and indeed morality, of a pregnancy starting at 60.
This seems to be the latest manifestation of the ‘must have’ attitude to life. You want it, you feel entitled to it. There was that woman last year who had a baby at 67. I wasn’t happy about that, and I’m not happy about this.
A child isn’t a new car, or the latest fashion accessory. You can’t just say you’re going to have one because you can, because you’re rich and privileged. You wouldn’t be allowed to adopt at that age, and it’s wrong to have a child ‘naturally’ at that age. You’re going to be hitting your mid 70s when the child is getting into his or her stride as a teenager. Does that strike you as fair to the child?
It works the other way too. Mick Jagger has got Melanie Helmick up the duff, and he’s 72 years old. Melanie is 28. Unless Mick is immortal, as Keith Richards seems to be, Melanie will be left, quite literally, holding the baby. Ditto Ron Wood and his newly arrived twins with Sally, aged 38.
I’m happy for both of them that they still have active sex lives in their 70s, since that gives us all hope. But it’s a bit unthinking of the needs of the children involved, though it’s unlikely that materially they’ll struggle at all. Psychologically and emotionally? I know where I’d put my money.