Monday, February 02, 2009

Octuplets. An ethical question or MYOB?

I first heard about this on Now the news about a woman from a L.A. suburb who gave birth to eight babies has become national and international news.

At first I thought, wow good luck with that. It’s her choice why are people judging her? Then some details (mostly from the grandmother) came to light.

She’s only the second woman to give birth to octuplets in the United States. This is a very rare thing.

The 33 year-old already had six older children. The oldest is seven and one child has special needs. She is single. The sperm came from a neighbor who is angry that she continued to use his sperm after he asked her to stop. He was getting married.

She loves babies. Is it a coincidence she went back to IVF after her youngest were no longer newborns? Hmmmm

Who is the doctor that transferred more than two embryos into a woman with six kids? How did she afford the IVF, which is very expensive?

She lives at home with her patents not because of an extended family situation but because she has no job. The family is broke. The grandfather who is Palestinian had to return to Iraq to work as a translator to bring some money in. I’m sure that is the last place he wants to be. He is the sole breadwinner for 14 children.

One of the eight babies is less than 2 pounds, the others avg. 5 pounds. How is she going to take care of 14 children?

This is different from the Duggar family who have 17 kids (without IVF or fertility drugs). The kids are spaced out and the older kids help with the babies. They are not on welfare and have a big enough home for their family.

I think this woman has some kind of mental problem. If one loves babies so much go volunteer at a hospital working with AIDS babies, become a nanny or a foster parent. I don’t know the medical term for her condition is but what is she going to do when the kids are older? Ignore them?

The grandmother said all the embryos are gone. She also said she wished her daughter had become a kindergarten teacher instead of having so many kids.

Of course there is a lot of controversy. Some say if you are truly pro-choice you can’t say anything about this woman’s choice. Others say since it might cost over 2 million dollars to take care of her kids who will have major development and/or mental issues, as tax payers people can complain about her selfishness.

Something doesn’t smell right with this. What was the doctor smoking? Multiple births are extremely dangerous for the mother and the children.

This debate is not going any way anytime soon. It’s recommended that doctors transfer no more than two embryos for women under 35.

What do you think?


Anne in Oxfordshire said...

Yes I think you are first we thought they were her only children..and she was married..and you kind of think ..oh ok nice for them etc...No this is totally wrong!!!

joanne at frutto della passione said...

This is such a difficult subject. Even under the best of circumstances, carrying and giving birth to that many babies is a huge risk for all involved. Our bodies were not designed to have litters (please forgive the crude term but there you have it). Women have two breasts and not 6 for a reason. I understand the desire for children and the frustration of not being able to have them naturally from first hand experience. I also know that it is an extremely personal issue and I firmly believe that current legislation in Italy brutally punishes infertile couples, but I also feel that the opposite extreme is irresponsible and serves no one, least of all the children involved. This situation is wrong on so many levels. In this particular case, based on what I have read, I think that it was wrong to implant all 8 embryos (embrii?). And perhaps someone (family, friends, ???) should have intervened sooner.

Sara, Ms Adventures in Italy said...

This is a difficult question. I think the problem comes when this woman needs assistance from the government because she doesn't / can't have a job. Then it starts to become everyone's problem and I think you can start to pass judgment on how protect her other children and now, her newborns.

It seems irresponsible at best, and at worst...pretty pitiful.

Lilacspecs said...

"Something doesn’t smell right with this. What was the doctor smoking? Multiple births are extremely dangerous for the mother and the children."

While I definitely have issues with the woman's finances and pre existing amount of children and possible mental issues and all fo that, my hugest, HUGEST concern is that the doctors continued to implant the embryos.

Where is the responsibility in the medical community here? If this isn't some quack with a serious god complex or serious lack of sound judgement than I don't know what is.

And the fact that some people probably think that this scenario is still better than a homosexual couple adopting makes me really loathe big chunks of humanity and it's so called sense of "morality".


Los Angelista said...

I can barely handle two kids so I can't imagine doing what this woman has done. But you know folks out here were tripping initially after they found out she was unmarried because they thought she was Latina. You can imagine some of the racist, insane comments that have been left on the LAT site and a few local blogs I've seen.

I figure, this woman is a total extreme of behavior and, as sad as it is, she's an example of the rampant individualism inherent in our culture. I do wonder, if she was married and they'd used IVF, would it be all good?

Diana Strinati Baur said...

It's reproductive rights gone haywire. I am stauch pro-choice. But this is just ridiculous. Here in Italy we have our women trekking to Barcelona fertility clinics because of IVF being illegal and in the states, we let a "your tax dollars at work" mama get implanted with eight more taxpayer projects. Six simply were not enough.

I feel sorry for the grandfather.

In reality, there are no words for this kind of thing. 14 kids no job no hope of a job but can afford IVF with the sperm of, of, a neighbor? There are so many questions to ask here, but they are all so inane that I will not start.

I also don't get the Duggars or anyone else who reproduces with that kind of rapidity. It brutalizes the woman's body, none of the kids get any meaningful part of the parents, no one has any time for anything and the kids raise each other. I know people who have had to raise their siblings in big Catholic families. I know some of the younger siblings who went numb to survive.

Why can't people just use their brains? If they think God gives them children, well, God gave us brains too.


Skywalker said...

I want a large family but at some point there is stopping point. It is her body but who is going to care for 14 kids as a single mother? The Today show is revealing that she had all 8 leftover embyros implanted and how unethical this is.


glamah16 said...

I think the woman is mentally ill,and unfortunately her self absorbed tendancies have affected her parents, the former donor, and the kids, who she can't care for without some type of aid. I think her doctor should have his /her liscense revoked knowing that she was unstable or not looking more into into her situation. I read an interview that she was seeing a mental health professional who recomended the mother cut her off. It's a MYOB situation if this was a one time fluke. But this is insane and deliberate.She has dragged unwilling accoplices into her scheme and it has made their lives difficult. The true victims are those children being put in this precarious situation.

Gypsygirl said...

Most doctors out there have a god complex and it may well be that her doctor and that practitioners at the hospital have one as well. They all want to make history and be remembered for "something". This woman is also responsible for this fiasco, for this is what it has turned out to be. Financially, emotionally and otherwise, everyone involved seem to be irresponsible. Ethically, well there are all kinds of arguments here that other posters have commented about.

We are all going to be funding those children and this mother for a very long time!!!! That irks me to no end!!!

Don't get me started on the Duggers!!

J.Doe said...

I have been following this story as are all outraged taxpayers in the US,especially those who live in California who will ultimately have to foot the bill. I didn't know the part about the neighbor sperm donor not wanting those embryos used when they were against his wishes. It makes an unethical situation more unethical. Doesn't he have any rights? I think the doctor who planted those embryos should lose his license. There is a responsibilty in being a physician that he obviously didn't take seriously. He should support those kids he brought into the world and let the poor grandfather enjoy his retirement and not go to Iraq and risk being killed.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

anne - I find the entire situation bizarre.

joanne - You're right our bodies were not designed to carry that many babies to term.

sara - the more that comes out about this story the more I want to hear from the doctor. What the heck?

lilacspecs - one commentor on Jezebel said she heard the doctor transfered fewer than eight but that she was super fertile from the past use of fertility drugs. I don't know if that is true. There are so many rumors flying around.

los angelista - Oh I could just imagine the comments. Even if she were married I still think people would say WTF, like they do with the Duggar family. Why 14 children under 7? What kind of life are these children going to have?

diana - I feel bad for the grandfather too. I wonder how old he is? I'm uncomfortable discussing anyone's reproductive rights other than my own but this is outrageous. I feel things are only going to get worse as advancements in science enable us to do things that are not natural, like give birth at 65, select the sex of your baby, etc.

skywalker - the state is going to take care of the babies as the family filed for bankruptcy a few years ago. IVF is very expensive. How did she afford it?

glamah16 - The poor kids. I can't imagine living in a 2 or 3 bedroom house with 16 other people. I wonder if the grandmother is being public in an effort to get donations?

gypsygirl - How did she pay the doctor? I'm not sure if IVF is covered by insurance and given that she didn't have a job she might not have insurance. Who pays the medical costs for the 6 older children? I bet the media finds this doctor sooner rather than later.

j. doe - I don't know what the sperm donor's rights are. Isn't this whole situation weird? Does he have any contact with his biological children? What does his wife think about her husband having 14 children that he is aware of (compared to an anonymous donor) living near them?

erin :: the olive notes said...

aaaahhhhh!!! i didn't know all this about this situation. crazy and so frustrating. i really have a strong opinion about stuff like this, but i keep my mouth shut most of the time. it's just so selfish, you know. Although every situation is unique, and I'd never tell anyone not to do this - but I have a problem with most IVF situations anyway, b/c there are so many children that need to be adopted. spend that time, energy, and money to better the life of a child that needs someone already.

Petulia said...

wow, I had not read about this yet. This is crazy and scary. How can there be no control over such issues? Thanks for talking about this in such an intelligent way

milanese masala said...

I totally agree that this woman is off her rocker. Like Los Angelista, I have two young ones and it's not always easy. In fact, it's taken me a while to write this comment as also I'm watching my two yr old who's trying to perform circus tricks on his chair.
That said, I wonder how many people have complained about stars who collect kids like they're buying pairs of Jimmy Choos. People like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie drive me nuts with their holier than thou serial adopting. How many kids do they have now, 6, 7? And they still want to adopt more! Their kids are all under the age of 7, including newborn twins. How can they possibly devote enough quality time to each of them and have successful careers? Are they really doing all the child-rearing themselves (as they say they are) or are they getting a little help from an army of nannies. Who's to say. But obviously it's a lot easier for them to adopt an army of kids than for non-famous families, most of whom are aching to have just one child to call their own.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

erin - I have some issues to regarding IVF as well but this takes the cake.

petulia - the British press is having a field day with it. I think there are stricter laws in Europe regarding this issue.

milanese - I have seen negative comments about Angelina and Brad. However there is a huge difference between them and the ocutplet mom. Angie had adopted two children while she was single, then together they adopted another son and had three (including twins) biological children. They are rich and their schedules are such that they are not working for months at a time. Brad's parents help out and they have nannies. I don't think people have an issue with large families, especially when you are adopting as you are not adding to the world's over population problem. This woman however has 14 kids, none are adopted and she doesn't have the financial means to take care of them.

Regarding their adoption being easier yes money helps but they're also not adopting white newborns which is what most adoptive parents in the U.S. want and there are very few available.

Ms. Violetta said...

Who ends up suffering: innocent children. I can see if you got the financial means to have a large brood (ie. Brad and Angelina) but this family is poor. How she got the treatment in the first place completely floors me! I love babies too but I'm childless because it would be a selfish decision for me to bring another being in this world if I'm not capable of providing for him/her.

toni said...

I think the mother was right - be a kindergarten teacher if she loves kids so much! She's obviously one of those women who don't realize that babies become toddlers become teens become adults - they're not dolls you play dressup with and put back in the toy box when you're done!

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

The woman is clearly unbalanced.

The real criminal here, though, is the doctor. Where was his sense of ethics?

Anonymous said...

I feel the need to comment here because I am someone who has gone through the IVF procedure. First of all, in my experience, Dr's in California are a whole other tribe...but that's another discussion I don't want to get into. My experience with IVF was completely different. First of all, my husband is a physician, we own two homes and I have the luxury of staying home to take care of a family if I choose to. When a woman is under 35, they are supposed to implant less embyros because the chances of success is greater, after 35 they will implant more because your chances of achieving pregnancy goes down by about 35%. However, 8 at any age is ridiculous. I was given the option of 3 or 4. I chose 3 because the thought of 4 scared the cr*p out of me. According to my Dr., who runs the Columbia Womens Clinic in NYC, and is at the top of the food chain for fertility Doc's, multiple births in IVF are considered failures. The goal is for one embryo to take. Some embryos are stronger than others and don't survive. That is the reason for more than one embryo being implanted. At $12,000 a pop, it's best to maximize your chances, but 8, no way, no how. Hubby and I could definitely afford it, but we just don't feel the need to have that many. If something, God forbid, happens to us, who will be left to care for so many kids???
The other thing that urks me, and I may sound bitter here, but so be it. It just seems as though a couple like us, who have a good loving home environment to offer, and the means of support, can't seem to get pregnant and women like that reproduce at alarming rates. This is disgusting, even for those of us who are going through this. I love children very much and hope that someday the good Lord blesses us with even just one. I feel for those babies, I really do. The Department of Children and Family services should intervene here. I think it would be completely appropriate.
Just my two cents.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

ms. violetta - I think the mom used to work at a fertility clinic. Maybe she received a discount?

toni - there is a syndrome for this behavior and it's very troubling. I wonder if that is what the birth mother has. She already had six kids but loves babies. What is she going to do when these babies grow up.

anon. - thank you for sharing your story. I had read that for woman over 35 you would transfer more embryos but not 8! That is the thing that floors me and makes me think something very shady is going on with this doctor. It seems it was less about hoping an embryo would take and more about well, having as many babies as possible at one time. She is fertile and under 35, no need to transfer that many.

I know several couples who have struggled with fertility issues. It's heartbreaking. Becoming adoptive parents domestically is very difficult so some are looking internationally. When you see a story like this, I can understand why a part of you gets angry. It's seem unfair. I assume someone from Child Services will be visiting that home shortly.

anna l'americana said...

I am very much pro-choice, but this woman needed to be committed, not implanted.

And I agree with Lilacspecs.

There was some discussion in the press of her mental health issues and an obsession with babies and for this, in addition to the existing children and the woman’s domestic situation, the fact that she wasn’t evaluated for candidacy before implanting is just off the charts.

I wonder how much of the Dr’s reluctance to counsel his patient on anything other than the clinical aspects of the procedure (as was reported) had anything to do with the Bush administration directives regarding reproductive counseling and funding? Either way, I’m sure we will be hearing more about her doctors and their decisions very soon.

With all the outcry, I’m sure they will be hearing from social services very soon - already costing the taxpayers and a very overburdened system. Too little, too late, no? What is the solution here? Remove the kids? She has created a situation with no possible positive outcome that will cost everyone dearly.

People like this woman and her doctors that stretch ethics to the very limit in this manner will most surely make it more difficult in future for those that could have benefitted….

Courageous post topic! Good for you.

City Girl said...

My thought process pretty much followed yours - I first heard of octuplets and the outcry, and figured these people needed to learn MYOB AND then I learnt of the specifics and I am floored. Like you said, there's something completely not right about a doctor consenting to implant all 8 embryos. Especially, because the doctor had to know about the situation - which brings me to another issue - in a lot of ways, this woman just wants babies and not children who grow up, right? Isn't that a set up for child abandonment, even neglect? I know the family is helping and I am not trying to point fingers, but there is something profoundly disturbing to me that she does not see these children are anything other than babies, at least by all accounts and even MORE disturbing that the doctor didn't consider this.

Sorry if this is ineloquent - I am not trying to offend anyone.

Moi said...

Well, I've heard she's hired a PR firm to handle her affairs now....adds to the whole, something ain't right here.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

anna - good question about Bush policies. I read she was pro-life. I understand not wanted to remove the embryos after they "took" but eight should have never been implanted in the first place.

city girl - no need to apologize. You were very respectful. I read the grandparents want to move out. Who is going to help her and her 14 children?

moi - bizarre. Her PR rep is not helping matters saying how they have received offers up to 2 million for "their story".

girasoli said...

I was waiting to hear from the mother to speak before commenting. Now that I have heard her on the Today Show, I feel very comfortable saying she is NUTS! I feel very bad for her kids. How in the world does she think she can support them, even after she gets her degree? I know plenty of people with master's degrees struggling with being able to financially support two kids, never mind 14! And who will be taking care of the 14 kids while she is at school and doing homework? She is definitely off of her rocker. With the babies all being so small, at least some if not all of them are at high risk of having special needs. Did she think of that when having six embryos implanted? I also feel sorry for her parents. It is just a bad situation all around.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

girasoli - I saw a clip of the interview. She needs mental help fast. She made no sense at all.

You don't have kids to fill a void. I get that she might have felt lonely as an only child but come on! Also several folks have commented on her plastic surgery. If she had money (from worker's comp) for surgery she had money for a shrink. I feel for her family and really don't want to hear anymore about this selfish unstable woman. I hope she doesn't get a TV show or book deal.