Hundreds of Australians die every year because of overcrowded hospitals. Children with disabilities struggle to get the help and equipment they need. Public schools are under-resourced. We don’t have a magic uber-highway to zip us around the country at the speed of sound.

Yours for the bargain basement price of… Pic: Thinkstock

And yet we’re spending taxpayer’s cash on IVF for women in their 50s. Riddle me that.

The news that a 60-year-old gave birth is the sort of thing that sees some people shudder while others are all high-fives and ‘you go girlfriend’ excited.

I’m on the shudder side, but that’s neither here nor there, nor particularly rational. It’s their business. There are all sorts of ways in which many parents are sub-optimal. Whatever ‘optimal’ is.

But when there’s a very finite fiscal pie, when there are people who desperately need help to, you know, live, why the hell are we subsidising IVF for post-menopausal women?

There’s not a lot of them. According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s perinatal statistics director Elizabeth Sullivan there’s fewer than 50 over 50. But there were 565 over 45. Most of the over 50s and many of the over 45s would have had IVF.

“You don’t get many natural conceptions over 50,” Dr Sullivan said.

“The majority of people giving birth in their 50s would be very likely using assisted reproduction, including another woman’s eggs or a frozen embryo.

“It’s highly likely women giving birth at 60 will be following assisted reproductive technology of some type.”

There was all hell to pay when the Federal Government capped the Medicare safety net, effectively limiting how many IVF cycles they would fund. Those who opposed the move – such as Family First – touted it as a tax on mums.

The subtext was that people have some sort of inalienable right to parenthood, or that IVF is a ‘treatment’ that people ‘need’ in the same way they need life-saving surgery.

It’s not. It’s entirely different.

It’s a brilliant technology that delivers increasingly successful outcomes to ecstatic parents. It’s helped complete the lives of many of my friends.

But it’s not a necessity, and it’s certainly not a necessity for people whose bodies have moved past the point of fertility. Statistics released last year showed that only one in 100 women over the age of 44 who used assisted reproduction technology had a live baby. They’re not good odds.

While we have kids that wait for wheelchairs, and people without homes, and people dying for lack of access to healthcare, helping older mums have bubs is not a priority for how the Government spends your money.
Twitter: @ToryShepherd
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    • Tim says:

      11:50am | 13/12/12

      The government should not be funding anyone to have IVF.

      It is absolutely ridiculous that the taxpayer should ever have to fund the choice by a person to have a child.

      The benefit is purely private, but for some strange reason they want the cost to be public.

    • Nostromo says:

      01:07pm | 13/12/12

      But it’s ok to pay 100s in baby incentives, child allowances, single-mother pensions for career breeders & all sorts of other tax benefits, including most child-related goods being GST-free…?

      If we’re going to be consistent, let’s be brutal. Just sayin…

    • Seriously says:

      02:03pm | 13/12/12

      Or public labour wards, or schools. But then, of course, you’d have to agree to forgo any support from these future taxpayers because you don’t, you know, want to live in a society

    • Olive says:

      02:17pm | 13/12/12

      It’s not a purely private matter Tim, when you’re old, grey and wrinkly you’re going to need people to pay taxes and you can’t have tax payers without babies that turn into adults with jobs.

    • Tim says:

      02:22pm | 13/12/12


      “But it’s ok to pay 100s in baby incentives, child allowances, single-mother pensions for career breeders & all sorts of other tax benefits, including most child-related goods being GST-free…?”


    • David says:

      02:33pm | 13/12/12

      Her body=Her rights=Her choice. If the government is obligated to fund terminations and child allowances, it should be obligated to fund all IVF - regardless of the circumstance. Otherwise women’s rights will be violated.

    • Tim says:

      02:42pm | 13/12/12

      “and you can’t have tax payers without babies that turn into adults with jobs. “

      No but you can have taxpayers that were never babies in this country, they’re called migrants.

      Seriously though, there’s so many flaws with the “who’s going to wipe your bum when you’re old” argument that I can’t be bothered going into it. People aren’t going to stop having children if you don’t pay them to do it.

      I think when they looked at the Baby Bonus the estimates were around $100-200K cost to government for every extra baby born because of the payment. Surely that money is better spent elsewhere?

    • Dr B S Goh, Australian in Asia says:

      03:12pm | 13/12/12

      It is a matter of choice for the nation.

      Maybe most taxpayers would be happy to pay for a 60 yr old to have an Australian baby by IVF than to spend taxpayers money on boatpeople or the mirage carbon tax which does nothing of significance to fight global warming.

      From my observations mature mothers are most caring so there is nothing wrong if a 60 yr old is prepared for the task to bring up another home grown Australian.

    • J Hoover says:

      03:26pm | 13/12/12

      I know just what you mean Olive.

      For me the decision to have children was an easy one. (Well, to be perfectly honest, it was less a decision than the unfortunate consequence of my ongoing lover affairs with alcohol and a string of willing, if not beautiful, women).

      But, once I found out that I was going to be a father, I knew it was the right thing for a number of reasons, the main one being of course that I would be breeding a new set of hands to contribute to the nation’s GDP.

      For the first few months after the birth of my eldest son Edgar, I found it hard to look at him without congratulating myself on my altruistic decision to create a new tax payer to help increase the government’s bottom line and help keep this country in a budgetary surplus.

      Of course, as the years went by, I began to look on young Edgar as more than a simple tax payer and even found myself developing some level of affection for the lad. It was probably when he hit about age six that I stopped looking at him in pure dollar terms, and started paying a bit more attention to him than I previously had. No more would my parenting start and stop at putting the scraps of food from my plate out in the yard for him to scavenge a meal from.

      As he got older and started to ask questions about the world, I realised that I had in him the opportunity to indoctrinate another human being to completely accept my own world view. The thrill of power that surged through me was invigorating.

      At this stage he remains a work in progress. To be honest, I don’t think I was given the best clay to mold my masterpiece with. He seems a bit too slack in the jaw for someone of my pedigree, and I often suspect that his mother’s 4 month pregnancy wasn’t the medical miracle I first thought it was.

      At the end of the day though, I can look past his many faults and failings. He’s never going to be a rocket scientist or a brain surgeon, but I think with a bit more focus on my behalf, he could end up being fairly good at container unloading or shelf-stacking - something that requires little use of the frontal-cortex would be right up his alley. Sometimes I think he might make a good Member of Parliament.

    • Mark says:

      03:46pm | 13/12/12

      The birth of a baby is a private choice. The raising of a child is societies responsibility. How hard is that to get?

      I also disagree with the Baby Bonus and any other scheme promoting birth so I guess that makes my position far more obvious

    • tez says:

      11:54am | 13/12/12

      I Thought that West Mead & Most other fertility clinics had the cut off age of 43

    • Anthony says:

      11:59am | 13/12/12

      If we can afford to fund the luxury of tax free religion for those who need the emotional support through the denial of reality, we can afford to assist people who wish to become parents to reach their goal here in a meaningful way!

    • Peter says:

      01:46pm | 13/12/12

      yes. there are lots of things our government supports which not everyone takes part in or even agrees with.  That’s life.  That’s australia.

    • Nostromo says:

      03:04pm | 13/12/12

      First of all Tony, get yer facts straight - churches are non-profits, so like all other non-profits they don’t pay tax. Or would you like to start taxing the Red Cross & other charitable institutions as well? If you don’t like their status or the law around NPs, that’s a separate debate. Also, ministers/priests pay income tax & churches pay land taxes I believe.

      As to your neo-atheist sputum, if you look long & hard enough you’ll find most Aussies are deeply religious, whether the God they worship be money, power, booze, sex or the footy.

    • lea says:

      05:08pm | 13/12/12

      “churches are non-profits”

      That right there is the funniest thing I have read all day.

    • Nostromo says:

      06:26pm | 13/12/12

      As i said lea - take it up with the law (or your MP) if you don’t like the rules ;-p

      I like to be funny - I call that my Devil’s Prerogative smile

    • Helena says:

      12:00pm | 13/12/12

      I could not agree more, but have never said anything in public as I feel any negative commentary about IVF risks causing great offence. It’s a shame that given how many children are in such desperate need all over the world that inter-adoption in Australia is not made a lot easier

    • Shane From Melbourne says:

      12:00pm | 13/12/12

      But breeders come first, that is what all the breeder subsidies aka lower to middle class welfare is all about. Single parents are still whinging that they have to go to Newstart when the child turns 8. Never mind that the risk of genetic birth defects is significantly higher when the parent is over 40, the breeders must have their inalienable right to breed and get paid for it while singles and other childless couples pick up the tab…..

    • Birko says:

      01:38pm | 13/12/12

      Exactly Shane.  As 1 half of a childless couple, it really galls me that people who choose to breed have a subsidized life at tax payers’ expense.  No more handouts except to those that genuinely need it e.g. homeless, mentally ill.

    • bloke says:

      02:41pm | 13/12/12

      sick of the amount of benefits to that go to breeders. and dont say they will fund my future. i am not working now, and not funded by the govt in my 30’s. when i’m old and grey, my partner and i will again be self funded like both our parents are.

    • andrew says:

      12:01pm | 13/12/12

      On a scale of things this government wastes money on, assisted reproduction is well down the list. That is, unless you class the baby bonus as assisted reproduction.

    • Al says:

      03:47pm | 13/12/12

      andrew - I do agree (re scale of the funding), but also see this as no reaon to continue that fundung (no matter how small it may be).

    • Alison says:

      12:06pm | 13/12/12

      This is ridiculous!

      I don’t understand why we are paying for this. These women have waited this long to have children and now they want assistance. If I had a choice I’d rather give my taxes to the ones that actually need it; the homeless, the sick, not the ones who want babies at an old age!

      It’s selfish. You have waited until you are in your 50’s which is when most people are becoming grandparents. The risk of having a child with a disability is high and by the time your kid is in high school you’re in your 60’s. Think about your children’s future - you’re not going to be in it. Once again, it’s just selfish!

    • jade (the other one) says:

      01:47pm | 13/12/12

      @Alison, while I don’t disagree with the notion that it is selfish to use taxpayer money to fund what is essentially a lifestyle choice, sometimes women haven’t waited this long just for kicks.

      For myself, i had planned to find a partner, settle down, purchase a house, and have a child by my current age. Unfortunately, I didn’t find my partner until now.

      It means that I probably won’t be having children until my mid-thirties, which is about 10 years later than I imagined. I couldn’t find a guy in my early to mid-twenties who was ready to settle down into a monogamous relationship, except for deadbeats who didn’t have jobs, cars, and already had a couple of kids. Not the men of my dreams.

    • Rebecca says:

      02:20pm | 13/12/12

      Jade - So, taxpayers have to cough up because you didn’t find prince charming? I understand that life can get in the way and things don’t always go to plan (my life didn’t turn out how I expected either), but that’s not the government’s responsibility. IVF is not an essential medical service.

    • AFR says:

      03:28pm | 13/12/12

      Alison, my guess is that you have never set foot in an IVF clinic. If you did, you would see it is full of women in their early 30’s, who, like most other women of that age, would love to have children. In my experiences through three unsuccessful cycles, there wasn’t a single woman that I saw that i would have thought was past their early forties.

      Some women get pregnant just by looking at them - unfortunately this isn’t always the case, and age isn’t necessarily the determining factor either.

    • Sickemrex says:

      06:01pm | 13/12/12

      @ Rebecca, I don’t think Jade was saying the public purse should fund her to do IVF. I think her point was that leaving procreation attempts until one’s 30s is not necessarily through selfish choices. I didn’t meet my husband until I was 30 and we weren’t in a financial or geographical position to start trying until I was 35. As it turns out I apparently get pregnant very easily but we had already discussed IVF given we were late starters. My personal view was that if we couldn’t, there were probably good biological reasons for it and to leave it at that. I can’t say I would have expected rebates for any attempts at IVF. That said, it totally shits me there’s no rebate for laser eye surgery!

    • D says:

      12:08pm | 13/12/12

      Absolutely agree Tory!

      The government should review the adoption policies before making tax payers subsidize someone’s selfish desires to enter into IVF treatment.

      Perhaps if adoption was easier, the demand for IVF in older women would reduce.

    • Erin says:

      05:25pm | 13/12/12

      I would have to agree too.  I am deeply offended that I have to sit before a panel to explain why I want to adopt a baby (either here or from overseas) and prove via police and reference checks that I am not some sort of weird pedophile, have all sorts of health checks done to prove I am a fit and proper parent AND pay an obscene amount of money for wanting someone else’s child, yet the government is allowing women who are 50+ to have these procedures at subsidised rates. (It’s not a free for all like so many people think - I know several people who’ve gone through the procedure with varying degrees of success.)

      I’m sorry, but if you haven’t had kids by 40-45, that shouldn’t be our problem. I have much sympathy for childless people who want children but ultimately it’s not my responsibility to pay for them. I think the cut-off should be 45 at the very latest.

    • MaryM says:

      12:11pm | 13/12/12

      The problem with this issue is it’s emotional (at least for those who use, or want to use, IVF).  It’s completely rational to argue that improving the health and quality of life of sick and disadvantaged people is a better use of public money than helping post-menopausal women have babies, but a post-menopausal woman who desperately wants a child is spectacularly unlikely to argue back in a rational manner. It then devolves into an argument about whether we are denying anyone’s rights or if we are just being meanies.

    • T says:

      12:42pm | 13/12/12

      Hold up, no one is saying that they can’t have babies (more that they shouldn’t).

      It’s that we (tax payers) should not be funding for older women to have babies. They can spend the money themselves. If they can’t afford it that is their problem. (BTW, I’m saving up for a nose job so i can breath through my nose again. I have to pay for it myself too).

      There is no emotional argument here, tax should not be based on emotions it should be based on necessity.

    • hammy says:

      12:11pm | 13/12/12

      Well if we are compiling a list of where Government shouldn’t be spending taxpayer money…

    • Rosie says:

      12:13pm | 13/12/12

      Oh dear goodness gracious me Abbott had better stay clear of this one? He will be damned if he dared thought like you Tory?

      Come on Julia your turn to act, it is a women’s body we are talking about here, our men folk just play a small part in the matter. Julia can begin the claim and Abbott either way will have to go along with Julia.

      I agree with you Tory to a certain extent and age should be taken into account. Past 35 years of age pay for it yourself! Money can be best spent on existing children’s education and health because children are the country’s future.

    • hammy says:

      12:27pm | 13/12/12

      It will still be Abbott’s fault.

    • Nostromo says:

      01:31pm | 13/12/12

      Last I checked toots, we mere males contributed half of the genetic sludge to the baby, all the rest just being so much sophistry. Until you wimen can clone yourselves, you might just want to remember that…it’s only a woman’s absolute, individual right when it stops at her body, as far as I’m concerned. The moment there’s a 2nd body, it gets far more complicated, morally speaking, the law be damned. If you don’t like it, learn how to use contraception responsibly & 100% effectively; if you don’t like that, may I suggest becoming celibate, a lesbian or getting your tubes tied as alternatives…?

      As for Julia, the less said about her expertise with children & families the better…

    • Rosie says:

      02:42pm | 13/12/12


      Its the Christmas season don’t get yourself uptight about my comments. I love the men folks in my life and was trying to over think like the modern age, intellect women who thinks they know better than anyone else and what they think is how it should be for everyone in this modern age.

      Honestly, I am very old fashioned and if I wanted children and my husband and I couldn’t have children the natural way I would just know it wasn’t meant and go for adoption if that is what my husband and I want. There are so many kids, as well that I could take a liking to and be part of their growing up etc. Nieces and nephews plus friends children are there. I would not make it a big deal nor would I expect the taxpayers to foot the bill.

      This modern age over thinking thingy is very very confusing, just wish they would decide on what exactly they want in life and stick to it without trying to make others think like they do. I am still trying to understand the misogyny and sexists thing that was applauded internationally by so called feminists!

    • Lill says:

      12:13pm | 13/12/12

      Agreed. But then I don’t believe any IVF should be taxpayer funded. Sorry, we have better things to spend our money on then adding more humans to our overpopulated planet.

    • marley says:

      12:14pm | 13/12/12

      I’d say publicly funded IVF should be restricted to women under 35.  After that, if you want it, you pay for it yourself.

    • Kika says:

      01:58pm | 13/12/12

      Good thinking. 35 seems to be the medically established deadline for having kids and if you have tried and failed before you turn 35 then it seems logical that there could be a medical issue underlying the problem.

    • AFR says:

      03:30pm | 13/12/12

      I am a strong support of IVF generally, and think an absolute cut off of 35 isn’t right, but some sort of run off period as you get older might be a good idea.

      But also remember, it’s not just the woman who is the reason fro needing IVF. Does this age cut off apply to fathers too?

    • Mouse says:

      05:43pm | 13/12/12

      I don’t have an argument with IVF for any woman that can’t conceive naturally with their partner, that includes lesbian couples. What I do have a problem with is post menopausal women in their 50s & 60s having IVF to get pregnant. There is a reason women stop ovulating, your body is telling you that you have reached the end of your childbearing years.
      All this “YAAY Ms K got pregnant when she was 63!! You go girl, more power to you!!” is a load of BS. That child will be extremely lucky to have a mother by the time he/she is15. Pfft, who cares, Ms K got her wish, bugger the child involved. Too bad if she has gets one of the many illnesses that are prevalent to women her age and spends a lot of time in hospital or a nursing home. I suppose her “had to have” child can visit any time though! (can you feel the sarcasm in my keystrokes?)  I really don’t care if the parents are super wealthy or whatever, that child will not have a mother when they grow up. This has nothing to do with kids that lose their parents early due to illness or accidents. That is chance. This is a certainty.  I just think that those women are so selfish and I certainly do not think that they should be able to access IVF,  let alone at taxpayers’ expense.
      That’s just my opinion anyway.    :o)

    • rodney says:

      12:14pm | 13/12/12

      You can find the cash in many pots.  Say, get rid of “chaplains in schools”, end subsidies to industry, raise the mining tax.  But it is a confusing argument comparing what MAY be an ethical question with one of finance.  And also, the cost of IVF subsidies for women over 45 is quite minimal in the scheme of things.  The money is there to fund hospitals, schools, aged care etc.  But you have to take it away from other things that you no doubt “want” but don’t necessarily need.  If you want to argue finance, perhaps you should broaden your attack pattern!

    • Tubesteak says:

      12:18pm | 13/12/12

      If you can’t conceive naturally then the government shouldn’t be paying for you to do it. You should fund it out of your own pocket just like you should be funding the childcare of your own kids.

      Government should start stumping up for cash when it is trying to educate the next generation of workers. Not before then and not outside of that purpose.

    • Bomb78 says:

      01:52pm | 13/12/12

      Tubesteak, comparing IVF to childcare rebates is a bit rich.
      The problem with funding childcare out of your own pocket is that the vast majority couldn’t afford to. Taking away all the rebates currently in place, and the resultant increase in wages - because of the reduction in supply of labour - would be catastrophic. It’s a bit like the argument for getting rid of negative gearing - do that and watch the rental market hyper inflate.
      IVF, unlike childcare rebates, offers little in terms of macro economic benefit.

    • Loxy says:

      04:32pm | 13/12/12

      Tubestreak, I get that you have issues with the welfare we fork out in this country - I do too. However, the childcare rebate is different to all other forms of welfare in that it costs less than it makes. Without that rebate, thousands of women would choose not to work at all either because they simply can’t afford the childcare costs or it’s not worth working for the small amount they have left after they pay childcare. The country then loses a heap of revenue in the form of taxes.

    • Markus says:

      05:18pm | 13/12/12

      @Loxy, it is estimated that over 40% of families pay zero net tax, and actually receive more in benefits/rebates than they pay in tax each year.
      And that number is rising.

      There may have been a time when it costed much less than it makes, but I believe it is well past that.

    • Tubesteak says:

      06:50pm | 13/12/12

      If you can’t afford to have them then don’t have them. You’re not doing anything for the world by having children you can’t afford. It’s everyone’s responsibility to fund their own existence

    • KimL says:

      12:22pm | 13/12/12

      I cannot imagine why any woman would wait till they were 50plus to have child. As you age you slow down, you don’t have the same energy or vitality that you had when you were young. So why would you even take this on. The Grandchildren, as much as you love them wear you out a lot quicker than your own children did. I am amazed anyone over 50 would even take this responsibility on, And there must be a high chance of birth defects.

    • Rebecca says:

      01:21pm | 13/12/12

      I’m only 21 and being near kids completely wears me out. I have no idea how 50 year olds do it.

    • Sam says:

      12:33pm | 13/12/12

      Bizarre that we’ll fund a 60 year to have a baby, but won’t help fund a 30 year old to adopt a child (and thus those kids will languish in a series of foster homes for years and years)...

    • LJ Dots says:

      12:33pm | 13/12/12

      I’ll have to agree with you on this one Tory. I cannot see how having a child is some sort of taxpayer funded right. There are many things that might make a person feel their life is ‘complete’, but this is not what the Government should be expected to deliver.

      Even when the cost factor is removed and the patient pays for their own treatment, I think there is also a moral argument as well when a parent (let’s say at 60) has a child and in all probability, will not be able to care for that child to maturity.

      It seems to be more about the patient feeling ‘complete’ than having any regard for the child.

    • kitteh says:

      01:14pm | 13/12/12

      Excellent point. We’re often told how parents are the most selfless people on the earth, but the reasons for wanting a child sound pretty damn selfish to me: I just want someone to love me unconditionally, I have the right to have a child if I want one, I want someone to care for me in my old age, I want to pass on the family name….Everyone has their I-wants, but this seems to be the only one that people feel perfectly justified in demanding that others provide for.

      And yes, the potential costs of a 60-year-old (even, to be honest, a 40-year-old) having children go far beyond the cost of multiple rounds of IVF.

    • Phoebe says:

      12:39pm | 13/12/12

      As an infertile woman, I was all prepared to come out fighting once again for the subsidisation of IVF - but, much to my surprise, I actually agree that publicly funded IVF for women in their late 40’s and 50’s is just crazy. 
      But at what age to we draw the line?  What if a woman in her mid-30’s has undergone premature menopause?  Is she precluded simply because she has been labelled with the ‘post-menopausal’ tag. What about a woman who spent her 30s battling and overcoming cancer?  Are we going to tell her that it’s too late, you’re over 40 now so no IVF for you - if only you’d come to see us 6 months ago…
      Or, what if we’re talking about a woman in her 20s, but her medical complications mean that her chances of success are less than 10%.  Age based criteria would seem unfair.
      Perhaps we could have doctors certify that the chances of success are reasonable, and therefore worthy of public subsidisation. Then again, would the doctor simply tick the box because to not do so would lose them business.
      I really hope that the answer to the question is not to simply stop subsidising IVF as there are a lot of reasons why this should continue, but that said, I agree that the money should be spent wisely.  I’m just not sure how you draw that line.

    • Borderer says:

      01:34pm | 13/12/12

      Stop making sensible posts, this is a lynch mob!!!!

    • Toady says:

      01:40pm | 13/12/12

      It’s called the lottery of life.  It’s fair that the government can forcibly take money from taxpayers, and lots more from people who through personal endeavour have become financially successful, and distribute it amongst those who either (a) don’t go to any effort to improve their lot in life, (b) choose to have babies well past their use-by date, or (c) draw the short straw and can’t reproduce without assistance.

    • Phoebe says:

      04:40pm | 13/12/12

      Let’s talk about that lottery, and why it is important not to consider IVF as a distinctive case. 
      There are lots of procedures on the MBS that are non-essential.  Take for example, ACL knee reconstruction.  You can live a perfectly happy and active life without an ACL, perhaps with the rider that you must refrain from participating in contact sports, but instead stick to a more gentle form of exercise. 
      Why then do we subsidise knee reconstructions?  Why don’t we just say, ‘Sorry bud, you lost the lottery and tore your ACL, you’ll just have to learn to live with it’ (or without it as the case may be). 
      If you want to take IVF off the list, then you’ll have to take a lot of other things off as well.  Isn’t it also more important for that poor disabled child to get that wheelchair than for the injured sportsman to get back to his weekly game of touch footy?  Why are you picking on IVF?
      I understand that we as a society are heavily taxed, and buckling under the strain, but for me, talking about taking away subsidies for IVF feels like rubbing salt into the wound - my taxes are being spent on other people’s children in the form of baby bonuses, family tax rebates, etc. but then these are the same people who then say to me - tough luck, why should I have to subsidise your desire to have a child…

    • Ren says:

      05:43pm | 13/12/12

      Aged-base criteria is COMPLETELY fair when you consider the needs of the child and not that of the would-be parent.

      (And I will add that it IS a factor when considering adoption, as I have.)

      A 60 year-old has a baby… and say she dies at age 75… Maybe dad is still around, maybe not.  What happens to the poor 15 year-old?  That’s one messed up life right there.

      Or, better yet… what happens to the poor kid who has to effectively play nurse to someone who by rights should be looking after them? Alzheimer’s, cancer, senility, etc, etc, etc, etc…  Whilst I can’t say that every old person above the age of 50 has these problems, there’s no denying that they are all conditions that happen more commonly in the upper age brackets. No teenager deserves that sort of life and while such cases would be few and far between, they WOULD happen.  That’s something we take care of when we ourselves are in our 40s and 50s with ailing/ageing parents. My mother is losing her memory fast - and I’m 34. It’s hard enough for me now.

      Phoebe, I would be pretty certain that all of those conditions (ie, illness precluding kids, early menopause, etc) would be considered special cases but that does not detract from the fact that having kids at such an older age is ridiculous.  If you’re not a parent by 45 it just ain’t happening. Get a furkid.

    • Phoebe says:

      06:52pm | 13/12/12

      @Ren - I think you’ll find that I did agree that women in their late-40’s or older having kids is a real problem - and that we shouldn’t be encouraging it. 
      The issue I’m concerned about is that once you start making rules, you’ll find all these square pegs that just don’t fit into round holes - and how do you decide what criteria is appropriate given all the potential variables.  I really think that this should be a decision made by a woman and her doctor based upon her specific set of circumstances.
      Plus, an age criteria certainly doesn’t fully address the financial aspect that Tory mentioned regarding the efficacy of allocating public funds to these procedures.

    • Zeta says:

      12:45pm | 13/12/12

      The Government spends more money on more stupid things than IVF. On the one hand, we’re told constantly they’re skint, on the other, they’re funnelling buckets of cash at inner city art collectives, lesbian lorry drivers, South Ossetian aid programs, productions of Hairspray, you name it, there’s cash in someone’s discretionary fund for it.

      And that’s just the things that they pay for that are stupid - to say nothing of the things we need, but they stupidly fail at delivering. Like F-35 fighter jets. Or a functioning immigration regime.

      If you have a household that can’t afford locks on the doors, but can afford to buy a Picasso, you’d think it was pretty dysfunctional. In Australia, we can’t pay our phone bills, but we’re installing new phone lines.

      A stupid decision like IVF funding for old, barren women is just another on a long list of stupid decisions that have been made by consecutive Federal Governments, even Howard’s.

      There’s probably some sketchy pollster who keeps telling politicians that over 40 IVF patients are a huge, valuable demographic that can’t be ignored.

      Stupidity in politics can usually be blamed on something like that.

    • Rob says:

      12:53pm | 13/12/12

      Why not. We pay for everything else for women, why not IVF.
      Women can already selectively bread men out of the human race through IVF and gender selection. It’s a wothwhile cause.

      All men should have their wages garnisheed to the tune of 10%, back dated to 1960 pre-feminism years, to fund this ‘entitlement’.

    • baddog says:

      02:33pm | 13/12/12

      @Rob. Over the course of your life how much have you spent on sanitary items starting from the age of 12?  These are expensive (plus GST-laden) goods that every female pays for, not the government. Add to that monthly contraception and a woman’s wages is already 10% lower just by being female….

    • sami says:

      03:28pm | 13/12/12

      Ah those imaginary ‘evil feminists’ and their illegal gender selection. How dare they.

      Meanwhile if you’re having trouble ‘breading’ I would definitely suggest using as much of your own dough as possible.
      Ba doom TISH! Thanks folks, I’m here ‘til Tuesday.

    • Al says:

      03:56pm | 13/12/12

      baddog - re: “Over the course of your life how much have you spent on sanitary items starting from the age of 12?” - well the female could always choose the old fashioned rag method (like cloth baby nappies) and wash it thereby removing the need for the sanitary items.
      “Add to that monthly contraception and a woman’s wages is already 10% lower just by being female.” - well as this is a choice there is no reason it should be compensated for, but it already is via the PBS.
      So these 2 examples actualy come down to choice and convenience ... again.
      We could make similar claims re: mens shaving items, or deodourant, or ties.

    • Testfest says:

      04:37pm | 13/12/12


      You were working from the age of 12 to pay for tampons? Geez, your parents were tough.

      And feminine hygiene products amount for 10% of women’s pay? Seems unlikely.

    • Kevin says:

      12:57pm | 13/12/12

      Sorry if it seems harsh, but reproduction is not a human right, at any age.  In a world full of starving children, spending bucket loads of money on IVF just doesn’t add up to me.

    • YaThinkN says:

      01:03pm | 13/12/12

      Sorry, I feel for women that can’t conceive naturally but really, IVF is a choice, so we should not be paying for that?  Not only does it cost a lot of money, but, and I know I will be yelled at for this, it seems that the older mothers tend to have more ‘issues’ with their kids, so there is also that burden on the health system too?

      I know when my husband and I chose to have a child, we gave ourselves 5 years, if it happened during that time, then good, if not, then was not meant to be and if we still really felt the need to be parents, well, there are quite a few kids out there needing parents.  The old chestnut about ‘needing to be give love blah blah’ does not have to be IVF.  If you make that decision young enough you can adopt, if not, you can always foster kids.

      It all comes back to choice.  I wonder if we would be able to spend more money on services we all need if the likes of middle class welfare (baby bonus, IVF, Private Schools etc., ) was not always taken out of taxpayer funding? 

      Seriously it is not just health costs.  When we don’t have enough funding to look after Foster kids in child safety departments but we have enough to help older women use IVF, don’t you think that is a tad skewed?

    • Darren says:

      01:27pm | 13/12/12

      “IVF is a choice” - so is having kids, and the government is garnishing my wages to pay for people who make this ‘choice’..

    • Kika says:

      01:55pm | 13/12/12

      Hey it’s not always the woman that has the issue as to why they can’t conceive. I know someone who’s swimmers can’t swim because they are formed wrong.

    • Loxy says:

      04:21pm | 13/12/12

      YaThinkN, it’s a choice to have any sort of treatment so how is IVF any different? You wouldn’t have a go at someone for choosing to have chemo (subsidised by tax payers) to treat cancer so why IVF?

    • Ironside says:

      01:27pm | 13/12/12

      Tory, while in principle I agree with you that there are better things to spend that money on, if you start making decisions like that where does it stop? How about Hospice care for the terminally ill? Why fund them, they are going to die anyway, how about a liver transplant for an alcoholic seems like a self inflicted injury? What about unknown thousands of dollars spent keeping a physically disabled premature baby alive? Some of the above will appear to be morally or ethically superior choices to IVF for women in their 40’s and 50’s some do not.

      On a side note, since the punch appears to be all for censoring offensive content, can you restrict the use of the term ‘Breeder’ please? It is a derogatory term used by Homosexual and deliberately childless Heterosexual people to denigrate the choices of those who wish to have or do have children. A look at the comments in this section should give a clear indication that it is being used in a way that would be considered racist if it was targeted against a specific race. People who chose to have children are no less deserving of respect.

    • Shane From Melbourne says:

      02:03pm | 13/12/12

      Rubbish, breeder is a perfectly good biological term for people who chose to procreate. If it offends you so be it. I may have to subsidize your lifestyle choice through middle class family welfare, but as far as I know free speech hasn’t been outlawed…..

    • YaThinkN says:

      03:32pm | 13/12/12

      Umm you don’t choose to die?  You do choose to breed though?  With the others like transplants, we do make choices there, unfortunately some do miss out and often it is someone older…  Until there are more to go round sadly that is the way.  Most people are not choosing to die or have a transplant. 

      Breeding is a different thing and I don’t think that should be paid for by the public, regardless of age.  I know women (and I am one) take their rights seriously, but IVF is an extra, not a repair for say an accident (like abortion).

      We all survived for decades without this help?  I am only 44 but never got any assistance from the Government to have a kid.  We just chose to do it when we were younger and used to not having much money.  Kids don’t actually need you to own your own house etc., for you to love them and bring them up well, it can be done…

    • Borderer says:

      03:39pm | 13/12/12

      @Shane of Melbourne
      If it offends you so be it.

      I suspect it’s all in the delivery, “mate” can be deemed offensive in some circumstances and friendly in others. Use of the word “Breeder” is about on par with “fag” or “lezza” in my opinion and should be used with the same consideration.
      Since I have recently become a “Breeder” nobody has been silly enough to call me such so I haven’t yet had the opportunity to test my resolve to not kick their teeth in for their insolence. That being said, there are plenty of opinionated knobs out there so I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

    • Kika says:

      01:50pm | 13/12/12

      I think it’s difficult to get into the mindset of heartbroken people who have suffered the effects of infertility. The desperation, the heart break, the determination. I think this is probably why IVF is partially funded by Medicare. I think it’s as much about the physical sides of becoming pregnant as much as it is about the mental sides of it.

      Perhaps this has got worse because of IVF. In the past people would have accepted the fact they were ‘barren’ (horrible word) and moved on with life but because we have IVF and so much success with it people being mad about getting it to work for them.

      I am SO lucky to have conceived quickly and naturally but I know a friend who is already going through IVF at my age. Another friend is constantly disappointed every month at discovering herself not being pregnant when it seems everyone around us is falling pregnant easily. It’s gut wrenching.

      The system is skewed in favour of IVF because IVF has made it possible. But I believe the funding should be spent on adoption and opening more international programmes to adopt. Adoption is almost impossible. It’s just as expensive as IVF and the loopholes you must go through and the time you have to wait is ridiculous. I understand that careful checks and balances have to take place but with so many needy children in the world why can’t adoption be more accepted? I know some countries won’t allow international adoptions unless you are from the same religion, ethnicity and race as the child is.  And don’t start on Australian adoption - the waiting list (used to be) 10 years or more and by the time you realise you can’t conceive naturally you may miss the cut off to adopt a child because the years have gone.

      It’s a precarious situation and up to the individual to decide. I just wish adoption was easier. It makes sense.

    • AFR says:

      03:40pm | 13/12/12

      Some sensible comments there Kika.

      i watched my now ex-wife go from being a happy and confident 33 year old woman to a depressed, exhausted and bitter 36 year old when it became clear, through various circumstances she was never going to be a mother. Ever period made her feel like a complete failure, and our marriage cracked as a result. Pity as she would have made an awesome mother, and we are both convinced we would still be together. We did look at adoption - but the red tape people speak of is VERY real. I would fully support any moves to increase funding and remove barriers to adoption, both domestically and international. I am also angry at the barriers to surrogacy as well.

      I saw a comment earlier that reproducing is not a human right - I beg to differ. It is seen as a rite of passage for most (i note not everyone wants to be a parent but even such people would acknowledge they are a small minority). And look at how many bad parents are out there - any idiot can breed provided sperm meets egg.

    • Anjuli says:

      02:27pm | 13/12/12

      I am partially speaking from experience I was a classed an older first time mother at 30 way back in the 60’s . It is a well known fact when people can’t have what they want ,then the subject becomes an obsession..  A friend of my daughter, who has just had an IVF baby at 50 years of age complains she is constantly tired .
      The Balance of nature is all gone .

    • J.t says:

      03:00pm | 13/12/12

      “The subtext was that people have some sort of inalienable right to parenthood, or that IVF is a ‘treatment’ that people ‘need’ in the same way they need life-saving surgery.
      It’s not. It’s entirely different. “

      I agree Tory, which if you extent your reasoning, is also the reason why you shouldn’t have to contribute towards public education if you don’t have kids and you shouldn’t have to contribute to parental allowances if you don’t have kids.

    • C says:

      03:36pm | 13/12/12

      Let’s think about the child for a moment. If you, as a mother, have a baby at 50 you will be 63 when the child becomes a teenager. The father may be even older - if there is a father around at all.
      A cousin of my father, married to a woman some twelve years his junior, was able to somehow adopt a child at the age of 54. They then went on to have two children naturally. The first of those natural born children once said to me of her two brothers, “The problem for the boys is that they have a grandfather, not a father.” She was right - and the idea of being brought up by someone the age of a grandmother as well has to give you a different outlook on life. It might be all right but there will be issues.
      So, is it fair on the child - or doesn’t that matter?

    • sami says:

      03:39pm | 13/12/12

      Adoption should be made simpler, it’s pretty sad how many kids need a decent home and how difficult it is to make that happen. If Hugh Jackman can’t even manage it what chance is there for us mere mortals?
      Win-win then: less demand for IVF and more kids in happy homes.

    • Smoke Crack - Worship Satan says:

      03:51pm | 13/12/12

      IDK what all the fuss is about. Kids are great!

      They taste just like chicken….

    • Mouse says:

      06:33pm | 13/12/12

      SC-WS, you’ve used that one before….......... :o|  (That’s my pursed lips face btw lol)

    • Steve says:

      03:52pm | 13/12/12

      Cool . . . no government funding for IVF.

      While we’re at it, no government funding for unemployed or homeless people.

      That’s the lottery of life.

    • Seriously says:

      03:58pm | 13/12/12

      My partner is only 30 and cannot have children unassisted because of a medical illness - polyscystic ovarian syndrome. This condition causes multiple effects, including diabetes in some, but the most common is infertility.

      Are you saying that her medical condition does not warrant government-subsidised treatment, while asthma, arthritis and other medical conditions do warrant goverment subsidised treatment?


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