Older parents

After a fuss in the papers a few months ago, the 62-year-old woman gave birth to her child today. I had reservations when I first heard about it, but was completely turned around after hearing Penn Jillette‘s take on it.

Penn suggests that there are far worse things in life than having older parents, and it’s hard not to agree. There’s every indication that the couple in question desperately want a child, and would love it very much. That counts for far more than any age issue, I think. People can whinge about how old the parents will be when the kid graduates, or whatever, but who actually cares? The kid’s going to say ‘my parents are old, I wish they’d hadn’t had me’? There’s no real reason that a couple in their sixties can’t physically look after a child. There are apparently measures in place should anything happen to the parents, too.

I see no moral issue. Sure, the child will probably lose his/his parents earlier in life than most people, but so what? Does that make his/her life not worth living1? It depends on whether you think that putting a child into such a situation constitutes active harm, and I don’t. Any kid could lose their parents at an early age, and it being more likely isn’t enough to make a case for denial of ‘permission’.

The early death issue seems to be the problem that people bring up. What if two terminally ill 30-year-olds wanted to bring a child into the world before they died? They would last less than five years, say, at which point the child would be handed over to another, equally loving, family. Would anybody begrudge them this? What’s the difference?

The prevailing opinion that this shouldn’t be allowed seems heartless. It’s really a win-win situation.

  1. On the surface this seems to have some parallels with abortion, but I don’t think it does once you think about it – the child is wanted, after all []