How old is too old to have a baby? This is no longer simply a biological question. The Journal of the American Medical Association published a study on Nov. 13 stating there is no medical reason why women in their 50s should not have babies with donor eggs. Once again, medical science has moved faster than cultural consensus.
Motherhood does not end with the birth of the child. Parents have a responsibility to support their children until they are self-sufficient, and part of this is a financial obligation. More importantly, parents are a guiding force in their children's lives, passing on their values and culture.
Children benefit greatly from the social capital that comes from their parents' contacts and networks. Your place in society is determined to a large degree by your parents' stature. Also, considering that so few women will be able to afford to have children by this method, the mother will have few people her own age to confer with on current childrearing issues.
While older parents often have more time and financial stability, they can lack vigor and may not make the best caregivers for energetic toddlers stampeding through the house or ten-year-olds who discover the joys of tackle football.
Many may paint this as a women's rights issue, because older men have always had procreative freedom. However, this debate has more bearing on the rights of the unborn child than the potential mother. Ethically, what right do parents have to give birth to a child that will have a high likelihood of being orphaned?
The JAMA study also points out that pregnancy at that age carries a higher risk of complications such as gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, two conditions that put mother and child at risk.
One must also ask why women in their 50s would desire to give birth at that point in their lives, especially when such a child would not carry their genes. Possibly those who want to leave a lasting legacy on this world should consider adopting an older child.
Women in their 50s should not have babies, as parenting is an ongoing process. Even people well into their 20s need guidance from their parents, especially when they are considering starting families of their own.