10th February 2009
A 33-year-old Californian, single mom, Nadya Suleman, gave birth to octuplets 27th January 2009. She already had six children ranging in ages from two to seven. All fourteen children were conceived using infertility treatments. She states, “That was always a dream of mine, to have a large family, a huge family.”
Are there any ethical problems here?
- Is there a case for a large family in global challenges of overpopulation, environmental impact and a possible reliance on a concaving social service?
- In cases of IVF, there is a procedure of selective reduction, in other words, aborting fetuses above four to reduce risk of losing all and enhancing the chances of those remaining. This was not followed here. Also, given Ms. Suleman’s age, there should have been no more than two embryos implanted according to The American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM). What happened here?
- The role of doctors – surely the doctors would have disagreed with Ms. Suleman’s decision to risk all eight embryos?
- IVF is a self-funded intervention – does this provide a buffer between the will of the patient and the responsibility of the doctor?
Although a story of strong emotional impact, is there a clear ethical position?