Janet Jackson Pregnancy
U.S. singer Janet Jackson (R) and her then boyfriend Wissam Al Mana pose for photographers as they arrive to attend the Giorgio Armani Autumn/Winter 2013 collection at Milan Fashion Week, in this file picture taken February 25, 2013. Hinting at a possible pregnancy, Janet Jackson announced on April 6, 2016 that she was temporarily halting her world tour because of a "sudden change" that required her and her husband to plan a family. Reuters/Alessandro Garofalo

News of Janet Jackson announcing her first pregnancy at age 49 did not exactly jolt the world. After all, there were other female celebrities also who had their first babies when their contemporaries were already experiencing menopause and their first born about to enter the university.

The list of celebrity mums who became pregnant at a mature age include Hale Berry at 47, Geena Davis at 46 for her first birth and at 48 for twins, and Kelly Preston at 48. However, the New York Daily News points out that these late pregnancies were often the result not of normal lovemaking but includes a lot of physician help, fertility drugs, sometimes egg donors and funds.

But having money to pay for in vitro fertilisation and other procedures to bear children when most women are already grandmothers needs a deeper look at the ethical, not financial, issues involved in pregnancy over 50.

Technically, Janet Jackson is below 50, but in a few months she would be a golden girl. That makes her a potential audience of fertility experts who urge such females to study the ethical considerations of becoming first-time mums at half the century mark.

Dr Eric Flisser, Long Island medical director of Reproductive Medical Associates of New York, says age, per se, “is no longer the biggest indicator of whether or not a woman should receive IVF treatment.” He explains that the risk of chromosomal abnormalities linked with older women is gone because the eggs implanted into the older woman are often harvested from younger women.

But Dr David Adamson, fertility expert for Advanced Reproductive Care, says he would need a compelling reason to give a woman over 50 fertility treatment which must outweigh significant medical risks linked with late pregnancy. “It’s difficult to envisage a situation in which the social benefits of pregnancy and parenthood outweigh the major medical risks,” he notes.

Flisser believes that to determine the demarcation line, it has to go beyond age, however, other experts cite the moral complications involved such as parental lifespan. The Ethics Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine points to the well-being of the child as the top consideration in determining if an older woman should have an IVF, which gives the doctor the right to refuse fertility treatment to a couple.