Woman Sets Record Giving Birth at 46 Using IVF and Her Own Eggs

Bioethics   |   Rebecca Downs   |   May 30, 2014   |   5:28PM   |   Washington, DC

A woman from Orlando set a world record in conceiving and giving birth at 46. Older women have given birth through in vitro fertilization (IVF), which Belinda Slaughter herself did use. However, she used her own, fresh eggs and her husband’s, Torrance, sperm to conceive her son Jackson. Such news even attracted The Daily Mail, a news outlet from the United Kingdom, enough to do a piece.

jacksonivfConsidering that the eggs and sperm were of Belinda and Torrance’s own, it is worth wondering why the couple did not conceive naturally. Most eggs used in IVF are frozen or donated. Mrs. Slaughter beat chances of less than 1% as The Daily Mail’s title points out.

The Daily Mail mentions that “Mrs Slaughter turned to IVF after having an operation to remove 18 fibroids—non-cancerous tumors—from her uterus,” though no further explanation is given.

Much focus is given as to how Mrs. Slaughter achieved a world record, though she makes it clear this was not her intent. The Orlando Sentinel explains more in-depth the record Mrs. Slaughter achieved, and as to how such records with older mothers have been claimed. This one is different, however:

Such firsts are hard to verify, but the fact that this birth was reported in the medical literature gives it credibility, said Dr. Richard Paulson, a well-known fertility expert and medical director of the fertility program at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine.

The local news outlet also mentioned Mrs. Slaughter beating odds, explaining that she had a history of infertility, but that she still wanted to try.

What is troubling however is that neither piece goes into the ramifications of IVF, particularly the loss of life. The Daily Mail merely mentions that:

Dr Mark Trolice, founder and medical director of Vivere-Winter Park Fertility Laboratory, harvested the eggs from her ovary in March last year.

He then fertilised them with her husband Torrance’s sperm and transferred the embryos into her ovaries, one of which successfully implanted.

The Orlando Sentinel mentions that there were “four embryos. One took.” The one that took is Mrs. Slaughter’s son Jackson who was born last September. But what about the other three? These embryos did not take and thus lost their lives. This is a detail both outlets gloss completely over. And what if all four did take? Would their mother have kept all four? Selective abortion is another issue representing a loss of life in this industry.

Those who oppose IVF and other forms of artificial reproductive technology (ART) know it is not productive or consistent with a strong life ethic to question parenting skills of those like the Slaughters or treat her son, Jackson, with anything less than with dignity and respect he deserves, and has always deserved, as a human being.

Mrs. Slaughter credits prayer and said that she “believed in God that it would work.” God certainly was at hand when it came to Jackson, but he was also at hand with the other embryos who are never lucky enough to make it to the point of being born.