66-year-old Swiss woman gives birth to twins

Geneva:  A 66-year-old Protestant pastor was under fire in the media and from neighbours today after giving birth to twins in a record for Switzerland.

The unnamed woman, who lives on her own in a village in the eastern canton of Graubuenden, went to Ukraine for the in vitro fertilisation, which is banned in Switzerland, according to the SonntagsBlick tabloid.

She gave birth to the twin boys by Caesarian some two weeks ago at the hospital in the canton's chief town of Chur, where all three are still under observation.

SonntagsBlick quoted her as saying, "It's incredible what medicine can do nowadays. I want to enjoy this event now in peace."

But a commentator in the Swiss newspaper Le Matin attacked the woman for her "selfishness" and "irresponsibility", saying that her twins, named Joshua and Michael, would be spending their teenage years ensuring their mother has a place in an old people's home.

A neighbour in the village of Gruesch echoed the sentiments, telling SonntagsBlick, "It's pure selfishness, and not good for the children."

Indignation was also the main reaction on Internet chat forums today.

Olivier Irion, chief doctor at Geneva's University Hospital, commented, "nature's limitations must be accepted and common sense prevail."

In vitro fertilisation should be reserved for younger women with problems conceiving, he added.

But Lorenz Casutt-Peng, the deputy mayor of Gruesch, where the new mother lives in a four-room apartment, welcomed the birth, saying, "Children are our future and it's a good thing that both the children and their mother are doing well."

The previous record in Switzerland was held by a woman who was 64 when she had a baby girl, while reports suggest that the world's oldest new mother is an Indian woman who gave birth to twins at the age of 70.

Story First Published: March 05, 2012 20:49 IST

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