In this age of reproductive wizardry, where babies can be created in test tubes and implanted in women who would not otherwise be able to get pregnant, it sometimes seems that anything goes. Yet the recent media storm and public outrage over Nadya Suleman—the Los Angeles mother of octuplets born in January that were conceived by in vitro fertilization (IVF) and are still in critical care—has led many to think of fertility treatments as Frankenstein manipulations and Suleman as a selfish monster. Other medical professionals are calling her case a “failure of medicine” and defending their profession.
Yet Suleman’s is not the first set of octuplets born in the past decade, and multiples ranging from four to six still turn up every couple of years, most famously the sextuplets that made the Discovery Health show Jon & Kate Plus Eight a ratings hit. The outrage over Suleman’s case is inspired by revelations that the 33-year-old single mother has six other children ranging from ages 2 to 7, also conceived using IVF, and that she is unemployed and collecting money from state disability insurance.
In light of her case and the furor it has sparked, some Marin fertility doctors are expressing dismay at what they feel are ethical lapses on Suleman’s doctor’s part, and fear that this high-profile case may dissuade people from seeking fertility treatments, and attract unnecessary regulations to their field.
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