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65-Year-old mother of 13 pregnant with quadruplets

Rebecca Bracken is a news and views writer.






Move over Michelle Duggar, there's a new super breeder headed to television

If Michelle Duggar can become a television star by popping out 19 kids, why shouldn't Annegret Raunigk be able to attract her own audience of womb worshippers with a fertility sideshow?

You see, Raunigk is a 65-year-old school teacher with 13 children and seven grandchildren who is about to give birth to a set of quadruplets — and it's all being shot for a television documentary. Natch.

Not a typo. Let's repeat as the shock wears off: A 65-year-old woman is ready to birth a set of quadruplets.

This isn't Raunigk's first time garnering attention by birthing babies at a remarkable age. Just 10 years ago, at 55 years old, the Berlin school teacher grabbed headlines for giving birth to a daughter, Leila.

She got pregnant this go-around by artificial insemination with donated sperm and eggs. She's providing her freakishly capable super-uterus for her end of the deal.

As is common with women receiving fertility treatments, when she realized she was carrying four babies, she was given the option to "selectively reduce" (read: abort) some of the fetuses to cut down on the many complications that can arise with a multi-fetal pregnancy. She refused and decided to carry all four to term.

You can't deny that she's really dedicated to cranking out the kids.

OK, fine, I'll be the one to say it: How in the world does a 65-year-old woman, who is getting ready to retire at the end of the school year, plan on taking care of four babies? And what in the world would drive a woman who has already raised plenty of kids to put herself and her family through all of this?

Actually, that was a rhetorical question. I think she's willing to put her kids through this fertility freak show for a crack at stardom.

There's got to be some underlying motivator because raising babies — much less quadruplets — is an exhausting and expensive undertaking, particularly for a 65-year-old retired teacher with 13 kids. And at 65 years old, how much longer will she be alive to take care of those babies?

Undeniably, this is a decision Ms. Raungk has every right to make, but just because she can, does that mean she should?

Has she ever considered adopting one of the more than 150 million children without parents or the 7 million living in institutional care around the world? That probably wouldn't make nearly as compelling television though.

She dismisses any criticism about her decision to have babies so late in life: "I think one needs to decide for oneself and not listen too much to the opinions of others."

This bothers me in the same way as the Duggar family, who promotes having more kids than anyone could possibly care for. Even with a super tanker full of cash and boundless energy, there can't be enough resources to go around for 19 — or in this case 17 — kids. Women have every right to have as many babies as they want for as long as they possibly can. But does that mean we should? Even for a TV deal?

What do you think? Do you agree?

More on multiple births

Moms of multiples: A practical guide
My dangerous and rare twin pregnancy
Twins 101: How to parent multiples

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