Now that everyone is over the “Oh, how wonderful, octuplets born and they seem to be fine” fluffery, will someone please tell my WHY a woman with six kids, ages 7,6, 5,3 and 2-year-old twins would want to take fertility drugs and have embryos implanted? And WHY would a doctor do it?
But, the real kicker is, the mother of these octuplets is reported to be unwed and living with her parents. The mother is said to live with her parents in a modest home in Whittier, a suburb of Los Angeles. The family has been avoiding the media, and the children’s grandfather angrily ordered reporters off his property this week. Court records show that the grandmother of the octoplets, Angela Suleman, filed for bankruptcy last March, failed appear at a creditors’ meeting or to make required payments and the case was dismissed. She had liabilities listed amounting to $981,371, mostly owed on two houses she owns in Whittier. The grandfather of the octopulets is reported to be a contractor in Iraq, who has been forced to return to work.
The octuplets, six boys and two girls, weighing between 1 pound, 8 ounces to 3 pounds, 4 ounces, were born by Caesarean at the Bellflower hospital, nine weeks premature. While they are all reported to be doing well and all but one breathing on their own, they still need a team of at least 16 nurses, two to each baby, to tend them round the clock.
Dr. David Adamson, former president of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, and director of Fertility Physicians of Northern California, expects a backlash against reproductive medicine. He stated that, in 30 years of practice, “I have never provided fertility treatment to a woman with six children,” or ever heard of a similar case.
Arthur Caplain, bioethics chairman at the University of Pennsylvania, angrily said large multiple births “are presented on TV shows as a ‘Brady Bunch’ moment. They’re not.” He also pointed out the serious and sometimes fatal complications, along with huge medical bills accompanying such births.
On the other hand, Dr. Jeffrey Steinberg, a fertility clinic operator in Los Angeles, New York and Las Vegas argued, “Who am I to say that six is the limit? There are people who like to have big families.”
Well, I’d tell Dr. Steinberg that there are people out there who’d be happy with one or two, and these fertility services should be limited to those that truly need them, and those that are married! Don’t we have enough illegitimate children running around born the old-fashioned way?
Mega-multiple births often cause insurance premiums to rise because hospitals cannot get reimbursement for the crushing bills incurred by such births, and so many multiple birth babies have disabilities, typically requiring social services. Who is paying for these children? The mother surely will exhaust whatever medical insurance she may have in no time. Then, the government will extend her benefits, and the community will open their hearts to her, there will be beneifts galore, and let’s all sing kumbayah! Soon, she may have a TV commercial deal going, and can we say “Jon and Kate?”
Now, I have no problem with the community and government helping out a family in need. But when a woman with six children undergoes fertility treatments and implantation, and gives birth to octuplets, there is something wrong. And isn’t this taking valuable services away from couples with true fertility problems? Won’t this indeed cause a backlash that may make it more difficult for deserving parents to receive treatment?
I am all for in-vitro and fertility treatments for women who truly have trouble conceiving, but there are evidently no guidelines doctors must follow regarding who gets treatment. This must change.