fertility

The Baby Wait

Dec 17, 2012
Mr. Physics via Flickr Creative Commons

Since 1970, the average age of first-time parents has increased markedly, from twenty-one years-old to twenty-five. Now, many parents wait even longer to conceive, and science makes it possible with advances in fertility treatments. A new era of freedom for women and men looking to have children later in life is now more a reality than a possibility, and the consequences are becoming more apparent.

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Monday in a case testing whether children conceived through in vitro fertilization after the death of a parent are eligible for Social Security survivors benefits.

The case before the court began in 2001 when Robert Capato was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. Before beginning treatments, he deposited sperm at a fertility clinic, and after he died, his wife, Karen, carried out the couple's plan to conceive using Robert's sperm.

Two eras clash on Monday at the U.S. Supreme Court, when a law written in 1939 is applied to in vitro fertilization. At issue is whether children conceived through in vitro fertilization after the death of a parent are eligible for Social Security survivors benefits.

At least 100 such cases are pending before the Social Security Administration.

For decades, scientists have thought that one of the big differences between men and women is that men can make children all their lives because men never stop making sperm. But scientific dogma said women aren't so lucky when it comes to their eggs.

Karen and Casey Jordan via Flickr

Statistics from the Pew Research Center show that single women over 35 now account for around fifteen percent of the birthrate in the united states. One reason may be that there are so many more options for women who have delayed motherhood -- from adoption to using donor sperm to freezing their own eggs. Journalists Pamela Ferdinand, Carey Goldberg, and Beth Jones all had fulfilling careers, rich friendships, and hapless relationship histories.