In my late 30s, after a series of operations to try to rectify what doctors thought might be the reason I hadn’t got pregnant after a decade of trying, I had to face the harsh reality that being a mother was not a God-given right. It is not an entitlement, as I’ve heard women and men wanting a late baby claim on radio shows this week, demanding their right to costly IVF on the NHS.
I spent my own hard-earned cash paying for my treatment as I considered it morally reprehensible for the state to pay for my desire to have a baby. It was anathema to me that hard-working families should subsidise something that wasn’t an illness.
What right did I have to bump an elderly lady with dementia off the waiting list for drugs to ease her suffering because of my maternal longings? Why is a woman’s right to motherhood more worthy than a man with prostate cancer?
And what they don’t tell you about when you’re an older woman having IVF is the terrible cycle of hope and despair. If they’d only told me at the beginning that I’d have more chance of winning the Lottery, instead of allowing me to fill my mind and heart with dreams of a child of my own — dreams that were dashed by the ghastly reality that hardly any older women get pregnant using fertility treatment.
IVF has a terrible success rate for women over 40. About 17 per cent of women aged 40 to 42 who use it get pregnant and about half of these miscarry. At £3,000 a cycle, it’s hardly money well spent, especially at a time of postcode lotteries for life-saving treatment and drugs. Only yesterday, we learnt that half of diabetes patients are not getting the treatment they need to prevent the disease becoming deadly.
Do you know when you have the most "choice"?
When you're in your twenties. At that age, you can have a baby. Or not.
At age forty, not so much.