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Thread: The ethics of octuplets

  1. #1

    The ethics of octuplets

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123603828823714509.html
    In-Vitro Fertilization Limit Is Sought

    By BETSY MCKAY

    Influential Georgia lawmakers have introduced a bill that would make illegal in their state some of the fertilization procedures used in the high-profile case of a California mother who recently gave birth to octuplets.

    The bill appears to be the most sweeping state legislation of its kind introduced in the wake of the case of Nadya Suleman, a 33-year-old single woman who gave birth in January to eight babies through in-vitro fertilization. Ms. Suleman has said that she had six frozen embryos left from prior in-vitro treatments and asked that they all be implanted because she didn't want them to be destroyed. Two of the embryos split, creating eight total embryos, she said.

    Another bill was recently introduced in Missouri's House of Representatives calling for less restrictive limits on the number of implanted embryos.

    Victor Munoz, a spokesman for Ms. Suleman, couldn't be reached for comment.

    "Nadya Suleman is going to cost the state of California millions of dollars over the years; the taxpayers are going to have to fund the 14 children she has," Republican state Sen. Ralph T. Hudgens, one of the sponsors of the bill, said in an interview. "I don't want that to happen in Georgia."

    A legislative hearing on the bill is scheduled later this week. If ultimately adopted, Senate Bill 169, sponsored by president pro-tempore Tommie Williams and several other Georgia legislators, would limit the number of embryos that may be implanted in a woman to a maximum of three for a woman age 40 or older and two for a woman younger than that. The bill would also limit the number of embryos created in one cycle to the number to be transferred.

    The bill was drafted in part by Georgia Right to Life, an organization that opposes abortion and seeks regulation that would treat embryos as human beings. "To us it's a human-rights issue," said Daniel Becker, Georgia Right to Life's president. Embryos deserve legal protection "as living human beings and not as property," he said.

    Several in-vitro fertilization experts and scientific organizations said they oppose the bill, arguing that a successful pregnancy sometimes can only be achieved by implanting more than two or three embryos, and that the law would effectively prevent would-be mothers from freezing unused embryos for later implantation.

    Backers of the proposed law "don't understand the complicated medicine behind it," said Sean Tipton, director of public affairs for the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, a scientific organization that sets medical guidelines and standards for the procedures.

    "It's the right of the person who has gone through this procedure to decide what they can do with those embryos, not their doctor, and certainly not the government," said Barbara Collura, executive director of Resolve, a national infertility association in McLean, Va.

    The reproductive medicine society's guidelines urge that doctors limit the transfer of embryos to two in a woman under 35 years old, and to no more than five embryos for a woman over age 40. The guidelines aren't mandatory and can vary according to a woman's individual diagnosis and the condition of the embryos.
    I wonder why the recommendation is for no more than 2 embryos in women under 35 and no more 5 embryos in women over 40! I suppose that it is because the likelihood of multiple embryos surviving is lower in older women and it increases the chances of some survival.

    I am watching this discussion unfold with amazement. Here is a woman who, because she did not want to throw away her blastocysts, had her doctor transplant all 6 of them into her uterus. Two of the embryos split and produced twins, resulting in a total of 8 kids. It is particularly bizarre since the Georgia law to restrict the number of transplanted embryos to three is being proposed by a right-to-life group. If this law not forcing the demise of untransplanted embryos even when the parents want them to survive?

    Wise.

  2. #2
    A few thoughts and questions.

    Is money the main concern when the woman has/bears an unexpected large amount of embryos/children surviving?

    If for example a single woman becomes impregnated without any using the vitro fertilization and the result is similar to Ms Suleman would there be the same criticism?

    I too wonder and ask the question you posed at the end of your comment Wise. Also wonder if maybe one day we might not face a law that tells us how many children we are allowed to have and base it on age, financial situation or other things.

    Coming from a large family who did somehow survive without government aid/help, this bothers me.

    My .02.

    Raven

  3. #3
    Senior Member WheelieMike's Avatar
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    Throughout this whole ordeal, the only option I've heard was "have them" or "destroy them". She says she can't just destroy them, I agree. What about donating them to another couple. That was an option here in Indiana, and the option we took with our remaining embryos. Is this not an option in other states?
    Stupidity ain't illegal, but it sure is inconvenient.


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    That is always an option, WheelieMike. However, Ms. Suleman did not want anyone else to raise her babies. She never looked upon those cells as anything but her children.

  5. #5
    Raven, I suppose that some people may think that it is a money issue. This is an unmarried woman who suddenly has 8 children. According to the comments, it seems that some people think that it is a child welfare situation as well, that a woman cannot take care of all 8 children and therefore some must suffer.

    WheelieMike and SoFla, it doesn't seem that there are many folks who are interested in adopting these blastocysts. I guess most people would rather have their own children if they are going to go through the trouble of bearing them.

    In my opinion, this case really brings ethics situation to a fore. Like many people, I feel strongly that we should respect the opinion of a parent who considers the blastocysts to be equivalent to babies and that throwing them away is like killing them. If so, we must then respect the wishes of that parent and allow her to implant them.

    On the other hand, having octuplets really does threaten the health of the children and it does place a burden on society. I am surprised that all the babies were born live. Obstetricians recommend that anything over triplets should be "culled out" because they threaten the lives and health of the others.

    Does society have a right to limit this and protect itself from mothers who make these choices and place a burden on society? I don't know. It is a very difficult decision. I suppose that the Catholic Church's response is that in vitro fertilization should not be allowed because it forces us into these untenable choices.

    Wise.

  6. #6
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    Wise, Like you I am troubled by the ethical considerations of this womans actions. I saw her interviewed by Diane Sawyer and she seemed pretty dissociated from the actual burden she is facing trying to raise not only these eight, but the six that proceded them. She strikes me as another version of a hoarder, the crazy woman who thinks she is rescuing 100 cats or dogs and ignores the fact that they live in squalor, infested with bugs, and have no quality of life. She is absolutely convinced that she is their savior, and that no one could provide the home for them that she can, despite all evidence to the contrary. It is a very sad situation. She was/is badly in need of psychotherapy, but now that, along with virtually everything else, will not happen because of the dire situation she has created. There are so many women out there who should not be mother's, so I suppose she is not that different than the drug using mother, or the inebriated one, in anything other than sheer number. I do not believe these children will have nearly the attention they need to flourish. No one person could ever provide for 14 children. She clearly has no problems with welfare supporting the entire household, which I find personally objectionable because she made the choice, but would be loathe to legislate anything having to do with reproductive rights based on marital or economic status.

  7. #7
    this woman doesn't have 8 kids. she has 14. all by in vitro. and no means to support them. the ethical question, to me, is: why would any doctor do this many successful in vitro implantations? also, i, frankly, don't believe this woman's story. i don't believe she has a problem with discarding blastocysts. she created them with no means of support. now her website asks for donations.

    i think she needs help, but not financial. most of all, her children are in a bad situation. where is cps?

  8. #8
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    It's ironic that if she had been doing foster care or adoptions she would not have been allowed this level of hoarding. I know nothing about where she lives, but in my state (MA) there are public health codes that say how many square feet of living space is required per individual. She lives in a tiny bungalow, not terribly well maintained, and couldn't possibly have more than two or three bedrooms in that house.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by cass View Post
    this woman doesn't have 8 kids. she has 14. all by in vitro. and no means to support them. the ethical question, to me, is: why would any doctor do this many successful in vitro implantations? also, i, frankly, don't believe this woman's story. i don't believe she has a problem with discarding blastocysts. she created them with no means of support. now her website asks for donations.

    i think she needs help, but not financial. most of all, her children are in a bad situation. where is cps?
    Oye, I didn't know about the other 6. I wonder who donated the sperm? What does she want another 6 (or 8) for? Fourteen kids with her genes? Sigh. Could this be some kind of reverse Darwinism? Have enough kids and you will take over the world?

    Wise.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Eileen View Post
    It's ironic that if she had been doing foster care or adoptions she would not have been allowed this level of hoarding. I know nothing about where she lives, but in my state (MA) there are public health codes that say how many square feet of living space is required per individual. She lives in a tiny bungalow, not terribly well maintained, and couldn't possibly have more than two or three bedrooms in that house.
    Well, it seems to me that she is not a responsible mother. How did she pay for the second in vitro fertilization procedure? These procedures are not cheap. I think that the doctor who did this is also responsible, especially if he knew that she already has 6 kids.

    Wise.

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