Bioethics News

Australian doctors dispute IVF regulations after 63-year-old gives birth

The parents of the baby girl 

The birth of an IVF daughter to a 63-year-old Tasmanian woman in Melbourne has exposed a rift in the medical profession about post-menopausal pregnancies. The unnamed woman probably went to an overseas clinic to become pregnant. Her partner is reportedly 78. She is the oldest Australian to have given birth.

The president of the Australian Medical Association, an obstetrician, Dr Michael Gannon, was scathing on Twitter and called for “the mother of all debates” about the issue:

Dr Gannon claimed that giving birth at an advanced age was wrong from many angles:

“As a community, we need to consider the rights of the child, the rights of society, the responsibilities of proper parenting, the health of the parents, the health risks to the child at birth and beyond, and the costs to the health system and the taxpayers that fund it. This must not be narrowly viewed as a women’s rights issue. Nor is it about ageism.”

The birth of a child to a 63-year-old mother was not what the pioneers of IVF had in mind in the late 1970s, he said. “Just because medical science can do something does not mean we have to do it, or should do it.” 

However, the president of the Fertility Society of Australia, Prof Michael Chapman, said that no one should judge the woman.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.