Motherhood at 70
Meet the world's newest oldest mom.
If you think Devi's record will stand, I'll take that bet. There will be mothers at 71 and 72. It will be done because it can be done, and because doctors such as Bishnoi see themselves as liberators. They're not just defeating society's strictures. They're defeating nature's. What once seemed an unalterable curse can now be "treated scientifically."
But as the march of motherhood continues into life's eighth decade, it may begin to dawn on the liberators that natural and cultural constraints are two different things. The former are less arbitrary. Nature tends to shut down a woman's ability to bear offspring shortly before it starts shutting down her ability to raise them. Science can defy the first shutdown, but how long can it defy the second? If 70 isn't too old to become a mom or dad, what is?
Maybe, as we extend our reach in this area, we'll learn to control it. We'll stop seeing infertility as a binary struggle between cultural fatalism and scientific treatment. We'll see an ecology of procreation and parenting, with some boundaries worth respecting, even when we know how to defeat them.
Will Saletan covers science, technology, and politics for Slate and says a lot of things that get him in trouble.