The urge to break records is primal. When the first knuckle-dragger hoisted himself up onto two legs, it probably wasn't long before all his caveman friends were doing it. The better to club him to death for dishonering the Clan.
This urge continues today. And now it has a feisty sidekick: Science!
With the help of science, two superpowers spent the bulk of the last half-century threatening the other with annihilation. Two Hulk-sized sluggers spent the Summer of '98 outdoing each other with tape-measure home runs. And now, again with the help of science, we have a new record in the most primitive of primal urges: Babymaking.
On Tuesday, 70-year-old Rajo Devi gave birth to a healthy baby girl, thus breaking the previous record, set last year, when a 67-year-old Spanish woman had twins.
In vitro fertilization, the method by which Devi gave birth 20 years after menopause, is nothing if not a miracle. Creating life in a petri dish has given millions of infertile couples the chance to raise kids. And, in Devi's case, it may help in breaking down some previously held cultural stigmas.
As William Saletan points out, infertility in India is a social taboo. Often seen as some sort of divine curse. Devi's case may help to abolish the prejudice felt by other infertile Indian women. For that we should be thankful.
But there are, of course, limits. At 70, Devi runs the risk of passing from this mortal coil before her daughter gets braces (they have orthodontia in India, right?). Pushing the record for late-age birth will eventually become a zero-sum game. And a headline like First Baby Born to Woman in Hospice Care suddenly seems like a gruesome possibility.
Have at it with the moral argument if you'd like. But really, I just wanted to open up the discussion so I'd have an excuse to play a clip from my favorite comedian. Above is Patton Oswalt on Conan, reacting to the 67-year-old previous record-holder (mildly NSFW).
Best line: Erect, in defiance of God's will!
Gets me every time.
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