“You are fifty-five, and that’s too old to have a child.”


From: Munson, Ronald. INTERVENTION AND REFLECTION.6th ED.,Belmont, California: Wadsworth Publishing Company,2000 . Page 730 Scenario 10

“I’m going to be blunt about it,” Dr. Carl McKensie said. “You are fifty-five, and that’s too old to have a child.”

“You’re not trying to tell me it’s impossible, are you?” Kisha Clare asked. “I’ve read that you can use donated eggs and donated sperm to fertilize them outside the body, then implant them and have a normal pregnancy. I’m sure it’s expensive, but Tom and I have got enough money, and I want to have a baby.”

“Oh, it’s possible,” Dr. McKensie admitted, “but it’s a bad idea because you’ll be too old to take care of a child properly. When he starts first grade, you’ll be sixty-two, and when he graduated from high school, you’ll be seventy-four—if you’re still alive.” McKensie shook his head. “You should have thought of having a child earlier.”

“I had a career to work on and a lot of personal problems.” Clare frowned, remembering the long hours in the office and how relieved she was when she finally left her husband. “I can be a better mother now than I could have been when I was thirty or even forty. I’m financially secure, I’m happy with myself, and I really want a child.” She shook her head. “Statistically, I’m going to live for another twenty-five years, and that’s enough to raise a child.”

“But is it fair to a child to be raised by an old person?”

“Grandparents raise children all the time.” Clare glared at Dr. McKensie. “And men have children whenever they want to, no matter how old they are. They don’t have to get permission from some doctor.”

“But an older man can have children only if he has some younger woman as a partner.” Dr. McKensie glared back at Clare. “That way the child has one younger parent.”

“I think you’re discriminating against me,” Clare said in a flat voice.

“I am.” Dr. McKensie nodded his head. “But it’s justifiable. There are compelling reasons why an older, postmenopausal woman, even if she has the money, should not be allowed to become a mother, just because she wants to. It’s unfair to society, to younger women with fertility problems, and to the child.”

 Critical Thinking

Provide ethical grounds for a policy with regard to the age of a woman requesting to receive an implantation of a fertilized egg.  Do NOT simply respond to this case. Focus on setting a policy for all women and all doctors to follow.

Using the DIALECTICAL PROCESS state what your ethical position would be on Assisting Women over the Age of Menopause to become Pregnant and why. You are to take a position and defend it. You should use some ethical principle to decide what you think is the morally correct thing to do. You must state those principles and explain how they have been applied to the situation. You should indicate that you have rejected alternative positions to your own and the reasons why you have done so.  In so doing you need to enunciate clearly the values and ethical principle(s) you are using to both reject the alternative positions and to defend or support your own.

Use this template or form to make certain that you include each part of the process-parts a to e

Label your parts with the letters a to e to make very clear that you have done each part.

Dialectical thinking: the 5 parts

  • a. Take a position on this question or issue Be as exact as you can be.  Be precise in your use of language (ethical principles and values).
  • b.  Provide the reasons why you think this position is better defended by reason and evidence than are the alternative positions Position defended using reasoning (ethical principles and values) in support of the judgment (conclusion of the  argument).  You state the reasons why the position you take makes sense and has evidence and reasons (ethical principles and values) to support it other than your feelings or personal preference or your opinion or what you were brought up to believe or what just about everyone you know thinks or believes.   Philosophers have offered such reasons (ethical principles and values) and evidence for the positions they have taken and you should consider them and if you agree you can and should so state them in support of your own position.
  • c.  State the reasons why you found the other positions flawed or less defensible than the one you are defending
  • d.  State the criticisms of your position
  • e.   Respond to the criticisms- rebuttal- how do you defend your position in light of those criticisms
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