The news that anyone who wants to start a family will soon be able to freeze their eggs, sperm or embryos for up to 55 years has been met with “universal rejoicing”. My first reaction was disbelief, says Bel Mooney in the Daily Mail. We’re heading towards accepting the inalienable right to become parents “once all the other accessories have been amassed”. IVF is a wonderful technology that my daughter benefited from, but even its pioneer, Lord Winston, has accused the fertility industry of corruption. And who’ll be able to assess the mental health of a 75-year-old woman who “decides it’s her right to finally have a child”?
The health minister responsible, Lord Bethell, says the decision will free women from the ticking biological clock. But denying the realities of time, ageing and death is hubristic nonsense: “The clock ticks for a reason.” You need the energy of youth to raise a child. The proposed 55-year figure also raises the prospect of women in their fifties and sixties unfreezing decades-old eggs to have babies by surrogate – does that baby deserve to have old parents “who will probably die when they’re still a teenager”? These are “fiendishly difficult issues” for any government to legislate on. But perhaps women “need to rethink their attitudes to motherhood”. Because fertility is “a privilege, not a right”.