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Last Updated: Sunday, 23 January, 2005, 15:43 GMT
Oldest mother 'regrets abortions'
Adriana Iliescu during a news conference in a Bucharest hospital
Adriana Iliescu says terminations were once thought "normal"
A 66-year-old Romanian woman thought to have become the world's oldest mother has revealed that she had two abortions in her early 20s.

Adriana Iliescu told a UK newspaper she regretted the terminations, which she said were then seen as an accepted form of birth control in Romania.

"In those days I would never have thought of a termination as murder as I do now," she told the Sunday Telegraph.

Mrs Iliescu gave birth to a baby girl, named Eliza Maria, earlier this month.

Both she and her doctors have rejected criticism that she is too old and frail to bring up a child.

She told the Sunday Telegraph that she became pregnant twice in her early 20s during a four-year marriage.

"I got married when I was only 20 and still a student," she was quoted as saying from her bed at the Panait Sarbu Hospital in Bucharest.

"My husband was also still a student at the atomic physics university back then, and the marriage didn't last long. We divorced four years later.

"In that time I had two pregnancy terminations - it was the normal thing back then and the accepted form of contraception. If there is anything I regret then it is those terminations, not having a baby now.

"Religion was not a big part of many people's lives and I had never had any religious education, I believed the party line that a foetus is only considered a life when it is older than three months."

'Gift from God'

Mrs Iliescu said she "discovered religion" after her marriage and is now Romanian Orthodox. She believes that, after decades of hoping for a child, her daughter's arrival had divine sanction, the newspaper reported.

"During this time I never gave up my faith in God and in the power of trying to realise one's dreams," she said.

Baby Eliza Maria in hospital in Bucharest
Baby Eliza Maria was born prematurely by Caesarean section

She spoke of her immense joy when her baby was born, five weeks early, after undergoing nine years of fertility treatment.

"It was the happiest [moment] in my life. She grabbed my finger with her tiny hand and held it - it was a gift from God," she told the newspaper.

Mrs Iliescu, a retired university professor and author of children's books, says she is optimistic about her future as a mother and claims her family has a history of longevity.

Dr Bogdan Marinescu, who carried out the fertility treatment, justified the procedure by saying she was in an appropriate condition to give birth.

Mrs Iliescu's case has led to calls by Romanian officials for a public debate on the medical and ethical consequences of fertility treatments.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Hear how the 'oldest mum' responds to her critics



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