In 2010, the removal and placing for adoption of an Italian child born by IVF to a father aged 70 and a mother aged 57 provoked lively debate. The Italian courts (including, most recently, the Court of Cassation) have denied that the decision to remove the child was a consequence of her parents' age. Rather, they claim, her removal was solely motivated by a concern for her welfare, with a range of instances of poor parenting cited in support of this conclusion. Notwithstanding such formal pronouncements, we argue that concerns regarding parental age have clearly played an influential role in the way that successive courts have approached the case and, further, that the courts' reasoning is flawed in several respects. While not denying that there is scope for legitimate debate regarding the appropriate limits on the use of assisted reproduction technology to facilitate conception beyond the normal reproductive life cycle, and on the relevance of parental age to child welfare, we suggest that such issues are better honestly recognized and their relevance explicitly considered and, in this sense, there is much in this set of judgments that gives cause for concern.
Keywords: IVF; adoption proceedings; parental age; regulation of assisted reproduction.
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