A Bad Idea Goes Awry

I saw this story in the news the other day:

Oldest woman to give birth dies, leaving twins

MADRID (AP) — She devoted years to caring for her mother, who died at age 101. Then Maria del Carmen Bousada embarked on a quest to become a mom herself. She lied to a California fertility clinic to skirt its age limit, and later pointed to her mother's longevity as a reason to expect she'd be around to care for her kids.

At age 66 she had twins, becoming the world's oldest new mom — and raising questions about maternity so late in life. Now she is dead at age 69, leaving behind boys not yet 3.


Another brother, Jose Luis Bousada, told the AP he was estranged from his siblings and read about his sister's death in the newspaper. Asked who might raise the children, he said he imagined arrangements had been made and "I suppose there will be no problem."

When she revealed last November she had stomach cancer, Bousada said she did not regret having children late in life and that her sons would be well-cared for no matter what happened to their mother.

Addressing her mortality and her children's tender age, she told Spanish television station Antena 3: "I hope God does not ... I want to hang on at least until they are 18."

As the last election should have taught us, "Hope is not a plan." Actuarially speaking, a 66-year-old American woman in 2005 had a life expectancy of 18.70 years, according to the ssa.gov site. But that "life expectancy" means that by that age, 50% of the age cohort will have already died, and 50% will still be around at age 84.70. That's like playing roulette and playing red or black.

I don't know what the difference in life expectancy would be for a Spanish woman aged 66 in 2006 vis a vis an American woman, but it's probably fairly similar (we're not talking Haiti or sub-Saharan Africa). But she came up black less than three years down the road, and the house raked in her chips.

As the article notes, there's a reason that Mother Nature shuts down women's fertility when it does. I'm sure that those babies will eventually be glad that they were born to a 66 year old woman rather than never being born at all, but still, it's a hard thing for babies to lose their mother like that. And it was really a selfish thing for her to do.