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Controversy surrounds 'reproductive tourism'

While others her age consider retirement, 60-year-old Ranjit Hayer of Calgary has become a first-time mom of twins.

While others her age consider retirement, 60-year-old Ranjit Hayer of Calgary has become a first-time mom of twins.

Manjot and Gurpreet, born in the Foothills Hospital Tuesday, were conceived through in vitro fertilization after the Hayers travelled to India to have the procedure done.

But there’s controversy brewing, with some skeptical that it was a good idea.

“Every risk of pregnancy you could think of would be increased significantly (by her age),” said Dr. Cal Grene, medical director of the regional fertility program in Calgary.

He said that Canada does not approve of treating women older than 50 years of age, which triggers what he calls “reproductive tourism.”

According to Asia Times Online, reproductive tourism is a $450-million business in India, with people paying for both in vitro fertilization and for surrogate mothers to make themselves parents.

Grene said other countries also have lax rules, and that this isn’t a medical breakthrough.

“We can make little old ladies 90 years old pregnant if they have a uterus, but I don’t think we should,” he said.

He questions the ethics of having children at an advanced age, saying “Who’s going to take care of (the kids) when they’re gone?” and that it’s generally unsafe.

Suzanne Tough, associate professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Calgary, said health risks for the baby include developmental delay and health problems if born early.

“(Women) between the ages of 24 and 35 have the lowest likelihood of preterm delivery, low birth weight and pregnancy complications,” she said.

 
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