Bioethics News

It’s tough being a 60+ single mother. Or maybe impossible

It’s tough being a 60+ single mother. Or maybe impossible

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Stories about older women having IVF babies come and go on the front pages of the tabloids. Several 70-year-olds have given birth in India, news which is always greeted, with a chorus of astonishment and dismay. How will the woman and her husband be able to care for the child, critics ask. An Australian woman who gave birth at 63 last week was called “selfish” by the head of the Australian Medical Association. 

It’s even harder for single mothers. A Spanish woman, Carmela Bousada, held the world record in 2009 for giving birth to twins a week short of her 67th birthday. She told sceptics: “”My mum lived to be 101 and there’s no reason I couldn’t do the same.” Unhappily she died three years later of stomach cancer, leaving her sons orphans at 2½ years old.

And there are other hazards for the older single mother, as 62-year-old Kathleen Steele, of St Petersburg, Florida, discovered this week. In 2009 she appeared on a reality TV show, “I’m Pregnant and 55 Years Old”. She gave birth to a son. After her husband died of cancer in 2011, she used his sperm to have more two babies, a 3-year-old and an infant daughter, whom she was raising by herself.

This week she slipped into a shop to get her cell phone repaired and left her three children in the car. The 13-day-old baby began crying and the 6-year-old beat her to death. The car’s ceiling was covered with blood.

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.