Octomom it is…

I caved.

Admittedly, I haven\’t been following all of the sensationalized accounts of the sperm donor, the ex-husband, the mother and their fighting, the home issue…but a Newsweek opinion piece this week by Dr. Mark Evans, director of Comprehensive Genetics in New York, caught my attention and seems to address an underlying issue within this artificially fertile saga – the recent onslought of multiple births due to fertility treatments and the medical advances that allow for closer to 100% survival of the implanted embryos that survive to fetuses (or in Dr. Evans\’ story, 50%-33% selective survival).

More than 20 years ago, I got a phone call from a distressed colleague. One of his patients, a woman only 4 feet 10, was pregnant with quadruplets. He felt, and I agreed, that she had virtually no chance of having a healthy pregnancy. He recommended that she consider terminating and trying again. But she had spent seven years trying to get pregnant. She asked him if anyone could do \”half an abortion.\” He said he didn\’t know, but he called me. I am an obstetrician and medical geneticist who specializes in developing new prenatal screening and diagnostic tests. I told my friend that as far as I knew, \”half an abortion\” had never been done in the U.S. But with the woman\’s life at stake—and all four babies—we had nothing to lose. I did the procedure, which we called selective reduction. Today, her twins are young adults.

Reduction will always be controversial. A woman has an abortion because she wants—for whatever reason—to not have a child. But women who have reductions are often desperate to have children. In high-risk situations, reduction may be the best way—sometimes the only way—for that to happen. I realize that in the minds of pro-lifers, this reasoning is flawed. But if performing this procedure means that couples who have suffered years of anguish can have their own healthy children, I\’ll take all the criticism I get.

So many ethical frontiers are being forged with technological advances creating new questions, new issues of morality, new issues of legality. It\’s a little dizzying.

To add to my confusion, this villainized woman who is allegedly living off of the state and who now has 14 children to raise seems to be a charming person that loves her kids…

***Update***

Well…apparently these guys did not see Nadya Suleman come off in the interview the same way I did…

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4 Responses

  1. I have a real problem with this whole situation. I hate the fact that Nadia could not financially support the 6 kids she already had so how the hell does she think she can support 8 more? In a 3 bedroom house with her mother nonetheless.
    But in all honesty, I blame the dumb ass doctor more than I blame her. There come a point where the doctor should have said no! Not to mention, from most things I’ve read, there are national guidelines stating women her age should only be implanted with 2 or 3 embryos at a time…..not 6! No, the doctor could have never known they all would have survived, and multiplied, but come on!
    Did anyone see this article on Fox news yesterday?: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,498306,00.html
    The thought that the doctor could have been improving his own fertility rate statistics by this one woman is sickening. Maybe he should foot the bill of these babies, instead of the hospital charging it to the state. Or maybe he should pay to support all 14 of these damn kids that their mom will never be able to financially support. I don’t doubt that she really does love and care for her children; every last one of them. However, there needs to be some responsibility as far as the financial burden. Just because a body can physically create or birth a child doesn’t mean they should exercise that ability.
    Hell, I’m all for government sponsored sterilization…maybe California should offer to pay to remove her over used uterus.

  2. Are you REALLY for giving our government the power to sterilize us? Or is that just the sentiment in Nadya’s case?

    As far as just because a person can physically create a child doesn’t mean they should…how many cases of that do we see in looking around? But the alternative to letting people make those choices (whether they are consciously made or not) is to have someone else make the decisions…and who do we trust with that kind of power – government? No thanks.

    Some systems are in place simply because they are the lesser of evils it would seem.

  3. Actually, I’ve been thinking for a while that when people can not afford to raise children, maybe the government should offer the “service” of sterilization. By no means should it be mandatory. However, there are so many people out there that live off the “system” and continue to have kids because they get more money. This is where there should be some intervention. Working in the position I do, I see it everyday…people living off the system and then getting free money to go to school. A good majority of the people that don’t have jobs, get welfare benefits, and an excess of grants for school don’t even pass their classes. They also take out loans to live off of. These are the people that are going to make it difficult for schools like ours to provide financial aid because they make our loan default rates go up, and once they hit a certain point, schools lose their funding. So it goes full circle.
    Now don’t get me wrong…..there are good people out there trying to further their education, and aren’t abusing the system. However, there is a good majority that are, and its these people that I have a real problem with…they shouldn’t be having more children to burden society and live off the government………….Sorry, the school part is a little off topic, but it is things like this that I relate to it, because its my job and that’s what I see 40 hours a week 🙂

  4. I saw an episode of Law and Order SVU that was slightly related: there was a female doctor working for a public health center in the city who was sterilizing young minority women who recieved her services multiple times. These young women were teens who were in trouble, or had STI’s multiple times, or had recieved abortions, etc. The doctor had done some work in a developing country where she was sterilizing women there as well. This paticular avenue of sterilization had not been passed by the US government as safe, but this didn’t matter in the case of the developing nation. They had not heard of anyone dying due to the IUD in the developing country, nor had she had any problems with her patients in the US. Although, if she had she might not have known it because she was sterilizing the young women without their consent; they did not know they were being sterilized.
    The doctor eventually got busted because one of the troubled teens died in a cell at the jail. It came to light that she was diabetic or something and the particular sterilization the doctor used was fatal to diabetics. (I don’t think it was diabetes, but rather some other illness that resulted in death when combined with this particular IUD.)
    Anyhow, it came out in court that the doctor thought it necessary to sterilize these young women because they were trouble making minorties who were going nowhere. They were causing more pain to their families and using government money by getting treated at the public health center. The final ruling was the doctor was charged with murder.
    I’m not sure where this leaves me as far as my opinion on the matter, but it is interesting. There are pros and cons to every situation, including sterilization.

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