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French woman has baby amid ethical scandal

25 June 2001
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 113

A French woman has given birth to a baby boy at the age of 62, making her the world's third oldest new mother. The baby was conceived using an egg donated from a younger American woman and fertilised with the sperm of the French woman's handicapped brother, aged 52. The woman who donated the egg also carried another baby fertilised by his sperm. The baby, a girl, was born in the same week as her 'twin' and was handed over to the French couple. Each baby is said to have cost £56,000.

Jeanine Salomone and her brother Robert are believed to have tricked doctors at the Pacific Fertility Centre in Los Angeles into thinking that they were husband and wife. The treatment was sought in America because of a French ban on post-menopausal women receiving fertility treatment. Dr Vicken Sahakian, who carried out the treatment and arranged the surrogacy, said 'they had the same name and I wasn't going to ask for their wedding certificate'. He added 'I would never have undertaken these fertilisations if I had known'.

Jeanine denied that they had tricked the clinic but said that she and her brother had engineered the scheme in order to ensure that they had an heir. She said that her brother and herself were keen to ensure that their estimated £2 million fortune went to direct heirs and not to distant relatives or the state.

The Salomones are now the subject of legal and social investigations by the French authorities. The investigating judge has been asked to classify the case as a 'potential situation of danger' for the children, meaning that the children could be taken into care. But Jeanine defended their actions, contending that they 'are better equipped to raise children than a couple of drug addicts. Why judge us and not them?'

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Babies at a price, no questions asked
The Daily Telegraph |  22 June 2001
Baby born to sister and brother may be taken into care
The Independent |  23 June 2001
Test-tube 'incest' sparks French outrage
BBC News Online |  21 June 2001
We want babies. And we will do anything to have them
The Independent on Sunday |  24 June 2001
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