A suitable age
16/07/09 The news that the world's oldest mother has died is relevant for progressive conservative thinking, says Max Wind-Cowie.
Maria del Carmen Bousada, who two years ago gave birth to twins through IVF at the ripe old age of 66, has died. Obviously this, like the loss of a parent under any circumstances, is a tragedy for her children. But, more than that, it is a timely reminder of the dangers that the ‘age of entitlement’ poses to areas of our lives -beyond our insatiable desire for new things.
The having of children is, increasingly, seen as a right in our society. Newspapers groan under outraged stories of couples that have been refused adoption or women who have been denied IVF. The message appears to be that, since we can make children artificially and we do have children in care, there should be no obstacles to parenthood.
Sarah Vine makes a good job of defending the particular case of older women. However, it’s nonsense to suggest, as she attempts, that we shouldn’t apply more rigorous standards to those we are assisting in creating life than those lucky enough to be able to have a child naturally.
The Progressive Conservativism Project, in conjunction with Demos’ Capabilities team, is currently undertaking work on this very issue. While this is a difficult, and emotionally charged, area of work - it is vital. As technology makes parenting a reasonable possibility for the old, the single and the just plain complicated, it becomes ever more important for society to be able to articulate what we want, and expect, from our parents. It’s a complex and sensitive area, but this makes it an even more important area to interrogate.