Archive for Saturday, January 31, 2009

8 not enough? Woman with octuplets sparks ethics debate

January 31, 2009

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— How in the world does a woman with six children get a fertility doctor to help her have more — eight more?

An ethical debate erupted Friday after it was learned that the Southern California woman who gave birth to octuplets this week had six children already.

Large multiple births “are presented on TV shows as a ‘Brady Bunch’ moment. They’re not,” fumed Arthur Caplan, bioethics chairman at the University of Pennsylvania. He noted the serious and sometimes lethal complications and crushing medical costs that often come with high-multiple births.

But Dr. Jeffrey Steinberg, who has fertility clinics in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and New York, countered: “Who am I to say that six is the limit? There are people who like to have big families.”

Kaiser Permanente announced the mega-delivery Monday, with delighted doctors saying they had initially expected seven babies and were surprised when the cesarean section yielded an eighth.

Multiple births this big are considered impossible without fertility treatment, but the doctors who delivered the babies would not say whether the 33-year-old woman had used fertility drugs or had embryos implanted in her womb.

However, the children’s grandmother, Angela Suleman, was quoted as telling the Los Angeles Times that her daughter had embryos implanted last year, and never intended to give birth to eight, but “they all happened to take.” Suleman said her daughter rejected an offer from doctors to abort some of the embryos.

More common among younger women is the use of fertility drugs that stimulate egg production; doctors are supposed to monitor budding eggs and stop the drugs if too many develop.

Some medical experts were disturbed to hear that the woman was offered fertility treatment, and troubled by the possibility that she was implanted with so many embryos.

Dr. David Adamson, former president of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, said he was bracing for some backlash against his specialty.

In 30 years of practice, “I have never provided fertility treatment to a woman with six children,” or ever heard of a similar case, said Adamson, director of Fertility Physicians of Northern California.

Women seeking fertility treatment are routinely asked to give a detailed history of prior pregnancies and births, and “it’s a very realistic question to ask about someone who has six children: How does this fit into the concept of requiring fertility treatment?” Adamson said.

The woman’s fertility doctor has not been identified. The hospital has not released the mother’s name, citing her desire for privacy. There was no immediate information on whether she is married or who the father of the babies is. Her six other children range in age from 2 to 7.

It was only the second time in U.S. history that eight babies survived more than a few hours after birth.

The mother of the octuplets lives with her parents in a modest, single-story home on a quiet cul-de-sac in Whittier, a Los Angeles suburb of about 85,000.

Several doctors said it is not their role to dictate family size.

“I am not a policeman for reproduction in the United States. My role is to educate patients,” said Dr. James Grifo, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the New York University School of Medicine.

Comments

Deja Coffin 6 years, 4 months ago

By this article it seems her parents don't seem to mind having 14 grandkids in their single story home. I think that it seems selfish to expect your parents to take on the burden of caring for you and your 8 new borns and 6 other kids but obviously this lady was raised differently. Interesting to say the least.

Chris Ogle 6 years, 4 months ago

“I am not a policeman for reproduction in the United States________Good thing, few crimes would be solved by that guy.

Omegatron 6 years, 4 months ago

An ethical debate erupted Friday after it was learned that the Southern California woman who gave birth to octuplets this week had six children already.-----------------------------------------------------------If a woman wants to give birth to a lot of kids, it's her right to make that choice. Just like it's her choice to abort that many kids.Hopefully, she has enough money to take care of them all...

notajayhawk 6 years, 4 months ago

"Some medical experts were disturbed to hear that the woman was offered fertility treatment, and troubled by the possibility that she was implanted with so many embryos."And where should that line be drawn? Was it okay to provide fertility services after five children? Four? Or only until they reach the approved 2.3?And what other services should be denied once a woman reaches the magic number? Maybe emergency room personnel should be instructed to deny care for pregnancy complications if the parents already have 'enough' kids?Just more evidence that "Pro-Choice" is nothing of the kind. A woman can choose to terminate a pregnancy, but apparently it's unethical to choose to have more than the alloted number of children. Or to choose not to abort multiple fetuses if there's too many in the oven.

SettingTheRecordStraight 6 years, 4 months ago

Omegatron,If they are "kids," as you rightly refer to children in the womb, then what gives women the right to abort those kids?

Omegatron 6 years, 4 months ago

"If they are “kids,” as you rightly refer to children in the womb, then what gives women the right to abort those kids?"The law as currently written.There should be no "ethical" debate on this subject. Can't have one without the other. If she has the right to abort, she has the right to go through with the pregnancy,

Omegatron 6 years, 4 months ago

"Just more evidence that “Pro-Choice” is nothing of the kind. A woman can choose to terminate a pregnancy, but apparently it's unethical to choose to have more than the alloted number of children. Or to choose not to abort multiple fetuses if there's too many in the oven."I do believe that there should be a set limit to the number of fetuses implanted if it's proven that there is to great a risk to both the woman and the unborn if a certain number is exceeded. The woman has the right to choose, but the doctor doesn't have the right to assist in suicide.That said. I agree. Pro-Choice is not a platform for population control.

Omegatron 6 years, 4 months ago

"And I will bet you dollars to donuts that she does not have enough money to support all those children, and thus they will ultimately become the responsibility of the taxpayers through various entitlement programsWhere is my right not to support her rights of irresponsibility?"That's the problem with the abortion issue, there's no middle ground. There's no way to get the Pro-Life, Pro-Choice people to agree on anything.All or nothing.Cheers.

frank mcguinness 6 years, 4 months ago

Notajayhawk says, Just more evidence that “Pro-Choice” is nothing of the kind. A woman can choose to terminate a pregnancy, but apparently it's unethical to choose to have more than the alloted number of children. Or to choose not to abort multiple fetuses if there's too many in the oven.To me this is not about holding someone from having 14 or 40 kids but the fact is that she just filed for bankrupcy and was telling a neighbor that she get's paid for having the baby's. I am certain that this single mother who is a student is not making jack for money and is being 100% supported by tax dollars. So incase you never thought you'd raise a kid in California. Guess again. Now you have 14

Strontius 6 years, 4 months ago

Lets get off the abortion bandwagon for a moment, because that's not what this issue is about. Having a lot of children isn't necessarily a bad decision. My grandfather was the 19th of 20 children from a single mother and father. They managed because on their Iowa farm, they could use the extra labor and the older kids could help take care of the younger ones. They did not, however, have eight children at a time. Obviously. However, I seriously doubt the woman in this story lives on a large farm. In fact, from what other posters are saying, she lives in a single story home, has declared bankruptcy, and is on the cusp of being thrown out of her home. Even if only one of those things is true, that's enough to clearly demonstrate that this was a bad and unethical decision; because there is no way this woman will be able to financially support 14 children. Her decision was selfish and the doctor who helped her in this process obviously just wanted her money. No sane individual could possible support families this size without substantial financial resources. The BBC reported that this woman does have a husband, and that he is a contractor in Iraq. But there seems to be a lot of information not being released, which is rather odd I think. Fertility treatment should be outlawed. It's unnecessary and results in these ridiculous and unsafe practices. If you aren't capable of having children, then adopt. Make a positive contribution to the world, rather than a negative one. Think about your larger society and the world around you when making such an important decision.

oldvet 6 years, 4 months ago

"Where is my right not to support her rights of irresponsibility?"Rights? You don't get no stinking rights... (with apology to and an accent provided by Alfonso Bedoya)

Deja Coffin 6 years, 4 months ago

Multi, thanks for the information. So was she able to afford the treatment because she worked there? It's sad because if the grandparents move out or kick her out it's possible that she wouldn't be able to take care of all 14 kids alone. Could she lose custody of them if the state considered her to be an unfit parent for lack of financial support or will she just get government assistance for all the kids? Kids are a blessing but I don't know about this one...I'm torn. I don't think the government or any person should control the amount of kids you have but to purposely burden your family just because you like babies....I don't get it.

SWJayhawk3 6 years, 4 months ago

It's been in the news recently that not only is she un-employed and living with her parents, but she also filed for bankruptcy last year...if you can't support 'em, don't have 'em.

SusieCreamcheeze 6 years, 4 months ago

Should come in really handy when we get the next check from the goverment

notajayhawk 6 years, 4 months ago

Omegatron (Anonymous) says… "I do believe that there should be a set limit to the number of fetuses implanted if it's proven that there is to great a risk to both the woman and the unborn if a certain number is exceeded."And again, who gets to decide that? The woman and her 8 children are fine, so all the experts standing there talking about great risk are doing so through the egg on their faces.. There are inherent risks to any pregnancy, and with twins, triplets, etc., the risks grow. Should we disallow all multiple pregnancies?***rooster (Anonymous) says… "To me this is not about holding someone from having 14 or 40 kids but the fact is that she just filed for bankrupcy and was telling a neighbor that she get's paid for having the baby's."So you're saying what - that we should have miminum income limits for having children? How should we monitor this - have a hefty licensing fee? Are you even listening to yourself? Are you suggesting that childbearing should be restricted to the rich?******Some of you folks are real peaches. One could only wish that someone had taken a stand against your own parents for unethically giving birth.

oldvet 6 years, 4 months ago

"if you can afford 40 kids, by all means have at it. If you cannot, don't just assume that everyone else is willing to bail you out. Live within your means!"That's certainly not the position of our current president and congress majority... they are more than happy to take care of everyone and let the government dependency grow and grow...

Christine Pennewell Davis 6 years, 4 months ago

my oldest has twins and that is more than enough at one time. the idea of 8 newborns at once is to much for my brain. This woman is going to really be a nut case after a couple of days at home with all of them not to mention the others at home waiting insane just insane.

jonas_opines 6 years, 4 months ago

notajayhawk: I think the only one not listening is you. You're taking posts that say nothing past the fact that this lady simply shouldn't have done this (and dammit she certainly should not have, with any decency) and then extending it to Gestapo tactics that the posters themselves are frequently decrying in their very own posts. Of course, you also discredit yourself completely with that last line.

womanwarrior 6 years, 4 months ago

I do believe that notajayhawk is one of those who rail against welfare moms and paying taxes. Can we deduct more money from your paycheck to pay for these kids? Can we now expect you to become more of a socialist? Will you foster one of these kids when the mom can't handle them anymore?

Mary Darst 6 years, 4 months ago

I agree with barry.. there are already too many people to feed. The expense of these children are and with be incredible. It just isn't a responsible thing to do.

fuel_for_the_fire 6 years, 4 months ago

notajayhawk: What do you mean these children are fine? They are not fine. They are currently in the hospital and will be for weeks. Current reports state that they are being tube-fed; this probably means that they do not have the suck-swallow-breathe coordination that it takes to feed from the breast or the bottle. This alone indicates a poor prognosis.Do you have a medical degree? I highly doubt it. For you to say that these children are fine is absolutely ludicrous.

denak 6 years, 4 months ago

It is my opinon that this woman should never have been allowed fertility treatment. There have to be guidelines set up to prevent things like this from happening. To say that it is "ok" because the children are "fine" does not deal with the reality of the situation.The female body is not designed to carry 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 children. It is extremely dangerous to both the mother and to the child. Children who are born mega multiples have huge physical and mental issues. Every once in awhile, you will hear about a multiple group that does fine, but the reality is that most of them don't. Not to mention that parents of multiples (even twins and triplets) are more likely to divorce then the average.There is absolutely no way a single parent can raise 14 children on his or her own. It is impossible even for a married couple. Last night, I was watching an interview given by Kate Goseling who with her husband have Jon, have 8 kids (twins and then sextuplets) and she said that it is an absolute nightmare the first 6 months. Forget individual attention it is just trying to get those children to survive. This issue doesn't have anything to do with abortion. It has to do with setting realistic guidelines for fertility treatment. Left to police itself, the fertility clinics will put profit above the health of these children and the mothers. This area needs to be much more regulated. No women with 6 children, all of them under 7, needs to have fertility meds. This woman now has 14 children, some who will be handicapped more than likely and all under 7. I think big families are a blessing but in this case, 14 children under 7 is a tragedy!Dena

notajayhawk 6 years, 4 months ago

jonas_opines (Anonymous) says… "You're taking posts that say nothing past the fact that this lady simply shouldn't have done this (and dammit she certainly should not have, with any decency) and then extending it to Gestapo tactics that the posters themselves are frequently decrying in their very own posts."Well, I didn't mention the Gestapo, jonas, but hey, if the shoe fits...Tell me, oh great one, just WTF gives you, or any of these other posters, the right to decide whether someone else - anyone else - should have another child, let alone label it as indecent?As for my last line serving to discredit me, jonas, one of the earliest concepts in ethics and morality is the concept of universality - what would happen if a proposed course of action were applied to everyone. And there isn't a single person here sitting in judgment and posting comments such as "dammit she certainly should not have" that might not have missed out on the opportunity to regale us with such judgments had someone been able to impose such an edict on their own parents.

notajayhawk 6 years, 4 months ago

womanwarrior (Anonymous) says… "I do believe that notajayhawk is one of those who rail against welfare moms and paying taxes. Can we deduct more money from your paycheck to pay for these kids? Can we now expect you to become more of a socialist? Will you foster one of these kids when the mom can't handle them anymore?"Feel free, little lady, to search through my posts - all 2285 of them - and see if you can find a single instance where I railed against welfare moms. It's pretty easy to search through a member's posting history - you can glean all kinds of things, like these from your own posts:On abortion:"The difference is choice by the mother. These people live in a society where men are totally in charge, so that should make some of you real happy. In the US, a woman decides what she wants in her body."So, like I said earlier - 'pro-choice' means you have the right to choose an abortion, but in this case, the woman didn't have the right to choose not to. Or it's okay to choose to terminate a pregnancy but not okay to choose to have one in the first place. Brilliant.Or how about these tidbits, in response to some negative comments about the 1st baby of the year possibly being born out of wedlock:"The people who like to condemn children born out of wedlock are usually the ones who are anti-choice. This mother made her choice, so get over it. Would you prefer she had an abortion?""All babies should be loved in or out of wedlock"'All babies' - but not this woman's, right, warrior? Speak out of both sides of your mouth much?

notajayhawk 6 years, 4 months ago

fuel_for_the_fire (Anonymous) says… "Do you have a medical degree? I highly doubt it."It's fairly evident that you don't. Or if you do, that you shouldn't. The problems you mentioned are fairly common in pretty much all multiple births, resulting from the fact that they usually aren't carried to term. Quads, trips, even twins generally face the same circumstances. By 'fine' I meant that they were, first of all, alive, and second of all in a condition that is not beyond the capabilities of almost any modern hospital to keep that way.But okay, let's do it your way - if there's a chance the fetus will be unhealthy, we shouldn't allow them to come to term. And as you're apparently appointing yourself as god, we'll leave it in your eminent hands to make the decisions.What would be your alternative, fuel? As has been mentioned by others, this is the way fertility treatment is done - it's a complicated and involved process in which you don't just implant one embryo, wait a while, implant one more, rinse and repeat. You implant a bunch because in most cases they don't all take. If they do, you either have them all or you have a 'reduction,' a pleasant term for a partial abortion. Besides the fact that, something you might know whether you or I or anyone else has a medical degree, there are inherent risks involved in a 'reduction' (particularly to those fetuses that they weren't planning to cull), just what gives anyone the right to say someone - anyone - should have an abortion? Again, how does that equal 'choice?'And again looking at the concept of universality, fuel: Wouldn't it be just wonderful if you were to learn that the only reason you're here to post your righteous indignation was because of the luck of the draw, because your mother decided your almost-siblings weren't worth the risks?

Omegatron 6 years, 4 months ago

"“I do believe that there should be a set limit to the number of fetuses implanted if it's proven that there is to great a risk to both the woman and the unborn if a certain number is exceeded.”And again, who gets to decide that? The woman and her 8 children are fine, so all the experts standing there talking about great risk are doing so through the egg on their faces.. There are inherent risks to any pregnancy, and with twins, triplets, etc., the risks grow. Should we disallow all multiple pregnancies?"If there is a history on this subject, research and studies done, and based on that history and research it is found that there is an unacceptable high risk to the patient (if a certain number is exceeded), then it's up to the medical profession to set standards to protect said patient.If you do not agree with that, your problem. "There are inherent risks to any pregnancy, and with twins, triplets, etc., the risks grow. Should we disallow all multiple pregnancies?"Was talking about the implantation process, not pregnancies that occurred naturally. Seeing that that is a different debate topic...

notajayhawk 6 years, 3 months ago

Omegatron (Anonymous) says… "If there is a history on this subject, research and studies done, and based on that history and research it is found that there is an unacceptable high risk to the patient (if a certain number is exceeded), then it's up to the medical profession to set standards to protect said patient.""If you do not agree with that, your problem."Gee, I hope you feel the same way some day, Omega, when you need an experimental treatment to get you out of a wheelchair or otherwise improve a diminished quality of life, but your doctor won't let you take the risk.Sorry, Omega, medical professionals do not, can not, make decisions for their patients. They can not, for example, force someone to undergo surgery or dialysis or anything else, even if the patient will certainly die without it. Their job is to inform and assist in the decision making. And, um, at the risk of being obvious (but apparently it's not), the fact that the embyos were implanted indicates her doctor agreed.It was the mother's decision to make, and she made it. And, "if you do not agree with that, your problem."******I'd actually forgotten about this thread. I usually don't return after it's off the 'most discussed' list. But a pm from fuel_for_the_fire reminded me about it. Apparently there are those who objected to my statement that the babies were doing "fine." So, in order to assuage those who were offended, let me change that statement: "The babies are doing actually very, very well." After all, those were the exact words of the physician on the case, appearing in an AP story five days before I made my understatement.

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