A 66-year- old single church pastor from a small village in Graubünden, Switzerland became the country’s oldest mother when she gave birth to twin boys a few weeks ago. She gave them biblical names, Michael and Joshua.
According to an article in the Swiss newspaper, Blick.CH, the boys will be able to choose their own names when they get confirmed at age 16. At that point, their mother will be 82.
The mother reportedly traveled to the Ukraine for IVF treatment, which is not available to old single women in Switzerland. (Egg donation is forbidden in Switzerland.)
The woman is widely quoted as saying, “It is unbelievable, all that is medically possible today.”
She also expressed a wish to be left alone by the media so she could enjoy her babies in peace. But as you might expect, no one, including me, is leaving this woman in peace because we can’t resist discussing how old is too old to have a baby.
And in Switzerland, between this woman’s age, her method of conception and her single status, she’s got everyone talking about ethics. One commenter questions how it is even legal for women to utilize another country’s fertility treatment services, then return to her own country, where the treatments are not legal, to have the resulting baby in the hospital.
The words arrogant and irresponsible come up again and again in the comment section of the article. The woman’s neighbors, many of whom hadn’t even noticed she was pregnant, find her decision to have a baby at her age to be selfish and not fair to the children. One worries the kids will be bullied at school for having such an old mom.
But a local politician, a man of 50, sees the event differently,
“Children are our future,” he said, “It’s nice when mother and children fare well together.”
A geriatric expert is also quoted in the article, and he says that the average life expectancy for Swiss women is over 84 these days. He goes on to say that a 66-year old woman who doesn’t smoke, and isn’t overweight and who has taken care of herself can expect to live for at least 20 more years. He goes on to insinuate that 60 is the new 40.
Maybe it’s time for me to move to the alps. Knowing what I know about the beauty and serenity of Swiss alpine villages, I kind of wish this woman had thought of adopting me.
I’m not sure what to think about women this old having babies. Is it anyone’s place to tell them they can’t? I can easily imagine how a woman who has devoted her life to a career as a church pastor in a small town, and most likely couldn’t have gone ahead with the IVF earlier without losing her job, would long for a baby after she retired. But I cannot imagine feeling capable of raising a baby, alone, at that age. I hardly feel capable as it is, but I’m not sure that is a question of age, or attitude.