How Old Is too Old?
In Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder, women of the Lakashi tribe have had the capability to conceive children until they die. Medical science should not attempt to make this possible for all women. Modern science needs to stop trying to improve human reproduction and let nature take its course. Just because giving birth at an elderly age can be done doesn’t mean that it should be done. Menopause should be the ending of women’s reproductive years.
Dr. Swenson, a professor was sent to the rain forest to figure out why the Lakashi women were able to bear children well into their seventies. Their menstruation was everlasting. The woman could get pregnant until they died. The rest of their bodies would get old, but their eggs didn’t age. She finds out as soon as the women of the Lakshi tribe started menstruation they would start eating the tree bark. Dr. Swenson’s experiment was trying to extend fertility of women beyond the normal time of menopause. She was trying to take the tree bark and turn it into a miracle fertility drug for women. There can certainly be many complications from having a child at an elderly age. As the novel goes on we come to find out that Dr. Swenson is seventy-three years old and is pregnant. The baby was born dead with birth abnormalities, Sirenomelia, also known as mermaid syndrome. The legs of the fetus are fused together into a single tail, no visible genitalia, a very rare condition (Patchett326). The baby was nothing more than a scientific experiment. According to the author Ann Patchett, “children die out here constantly, that’s why so many of them are needed”(345-346). I believe children are constantly dying in the Lakashi tribe because of birth defects due to old age. The body of the women is not as strong as a younger person so it makes it hard for the baby to survive. Also, the woman will most likely suffer from complications, and the baby has a high chance of being born prematurely. In addition,...
Cited: Mail foreign science. "World 's oldest mother Rajo Devi Lohan reveals she is dying | Mail Online." Home | Mail Online. N.p., 15 June 2010. Web. 15 Oct. 2013.
Patchett, Ann. State of Wonder. New York: Harper, 2011. Print.
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