Elizabeth Adeney, a 66-year-old woman from Suffolk, England, is eight-months pregnant. When she delivers this summer she will be the oldest woman to ever give birth in Britain, and join the ranks of Adriana Iliescu and Omkari Panwar, both women who broke records by giving birth after the age of 65.
The "Daily Mail" reports that Adeney is believed to have undergone IVF treatments abroad because many British doctors refuse to give them to women over the age of 50.
Adeney, a divorcee, will raise the child alone and will be almost 80 years old when the child enters high school. She is a woman of means, who is in good health, but this is sure to reignite debate about parenting late in life.
The number of women who gave birth after 40 increased from 12,103 in 1996 to 23,706 in 2006, according to UK statistics. In 2004, Britain's Office for National Statistics released population data that found, "an ever-widening gap between fertility rates along social class lines, with wealthier women waiting until their 40s to have children while the birth rate among the youngest age groups is mainly among poorer mothers."
Despite the obvious increase in popularity, detractors say that just because a woman can give birth late in life, doesn't mean she should, "Women do not have the right to have a child; the child has a right to a suitable home," said former Secretary of State for Health in Britain, Virginia Bottomley, while addressing post-menopausal pregnancy.
Even the doctor who performed IVF treatments on Patricia Rashbrook, a woman who gave birth at the age of 62 in Britain, says this was a mistake. "The maximum age for a woman to have a child should be 63, because the average lifespan is 83 years of age and the child needs a mum for the first 18 to 20 years," said Professor Severino Antinori, an Italian embryologist who is also embroiled in the cloning debate. "The risks for a mum for giving birth at the age of 66 are very high. They include possible hypertension and even the risk of coma. Rashbrook was good medical science; we did 150 analyses in her case and we found she had a biological age of 45 even though her real age was, of course, much older."