Every once in a while there comes a story which leaves one speechless, unable to comprehend the information. The Suleman octuplets, born last Monday in California, is one such story for me.
How in the world does a single mother of six children under the age of 8, living with her parents, obtain another round of IVF? There are all kinds of ethical and moral issues involved with this story. The medical community, while applauding the successful delivery, are at a loss as to explain how any ethical doctor could have participated in this pregnancy.
The pro life right has been unusually silent. The Lifesite.net home page provides absolutely zero coverage, nor has any of the other larger pro life sites. And yet, Ms. Suleman has stated she wanted to bring to birth all of her frozen embryos and refused selective abortion on pro life grounds. You would think they might welcome her decision with open arms instead of silence.
I wonder if we have anywhere near the whole story. CBS News is reporting that Ms. Suleman got the money for this latest round of IVF from a legal settlement, stemming from an on the job injury, that one sperm donor--not her divorced husband-- is responsible for all 14 children, and that she intends to hire an agent and pursuit a career as a media parenting specialist.
Oprah and Dianne Sawyer are interested in obtaining the first exclusive interview with Ms. Suleman. Perhaps the first interview should really be done by a psychiatrist. Actually, that one should have been done some time ago.
The prognosis for the babies, six boys and two girls, is positive at this point. However, history says the outcomes may not stay positive. Preemies, especially boys, have difficulties in both physical and mental areas, which may not show up right away. Ms. Suleman already has one autistic son. She may have more sons with more issues.
In the final analysis this story may be about how far personal choice extends in reproductive rights. Does a doctor have the legal authority to say 'no' to a woman who chooses to have multiple births such as Ms. Suleman? Will we see legal limits placed on IVF services, such as in some European countries, where embryo implants are restricted to one or two embryos? Will we see new legal opinions involving just who owns frozen embryos and what can be done with them? Will we see more intensive screening of prospective parents and can their reproductive rights, as they pertain to fertility treatments, be curtailed? As in if you can't accomplish a pregnancy God's way, you don't automatically get to try it man's way?
These are serious questions and the state has an interest, as Ms Suleman may already be getting state assistance for her autistic son. No, this is certainly not a feel good story about a multiple birth. It's more a feel queasy story about a can of legal and ethical worms.