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February 6, 2009

Nadya Suleman and her octuplets brings invitro fertility treatments (IVF) into controversy

I know everyone has been watching the story of Nadya Suleman and her now-famous octuplets unfold. I’ve been waiting for more information to come out before deciding how I feel about any of it. Pieces of information have been revealed over the last few days that have caused much of the world to forget celebrating the healthy birth of eight babies, and begin questioning current practices in the field of invitro fertility treatments (IVF), as well as reproductive rights in general.

For those just tuning in, here’s what you’ve missed so far: It was originally announced that an unidentified woman had given birth to eight live babies in California. Details of the birth, such as paternity and conception intervention were not immediately available. It is rare for so many babies to be born alive, and so the world began celebrating this “miracle” of life. However:

It has been announced that Nadya Suleman is a single mother, who lives with her mother, and already has six children at home under the age of 8. These first six children were conceived using IVF and a sperm donor, as were these new eight ones (they all share paternity). Yes, you read that correctly: a woman who already has six children was given IVF treatment and now has 14 children under the age of 8 to care for. What’s unclear right now is whether or not these first six children were disclosed to the doctor conducting the IVF treatment.

It has also been announced that Nadya Suleman is a Master’s student, and is receiving disability pay from a mental health facility where she used to work until injured on the job. Apparently she sustained a severe back injury during a riot in the women’s section of the facility, and is no longer able to work. It hasn’t been said if Nadya’s mother works to help support the family.

As a woman who suffers from endometriosis, I support the notion of IVF; there’s a possibility I’ll need it myself one day, should I be unable to conceive unassisted. That said, I don’t support women using IVF out of desperation to have a massive family, with no real way to support everyone. I feel badly for these children already; how will this mother provide adequate care for 14 children? They will all need food, clothing, and shelter, not to mention emotional care; there is only so much money, and so much mommy, to go around.

I hate to sound cold-hearted, but I fail to see how a single mother on disability can possibly be able to care for so many children, both emotionally and financially. Reproductive rights are a grey area, as many people would argue it’s not up to the government to decide how many children a parent can have. However, I find this mother’s actions to be selfish and unhealthy. There are so many people out there who are struggling to have even ONE child, and this woman was not satisfied with the six she had already? Does anyone else think she sounds a little unbalanced?

Bottom line: IVF is a wonderful medical advancement, and this woman’s selfish actions have sullied its reputation. Just because you have a uterus doesn’t mean you have to (over)use it.

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