An unfiltered fire hose of flaming condemnation

And here I thought one was a total kick in the ass

This week I started a Momversation about the ethics of planned multiple births, or more specifically, holy cow, that woman has 14 kids. See here:

I wanted to bring this discussion here because I’m sure you’ve all got opinions about this story, and I’m willing to bet that a few of you let out a more than audible, “Do what?” when it was revealed that Nadya Suleman not only gave birth to premature octuplets, but that she also had six other kids waiting for her at home. And she lives with her mom. And she doesn’t have a job. And the father is not involved whatsoever. Did that story just get weirder and weirder, or what, right? It got to the point where I wouldn’t have been surprised if they reported that she kept all the placentas in her freezer so that if she ever ran out of strawberries she’d have something with which to make smoothies.

I remember where I was when I first heard about this story, and before any of the various details came out about this woman and her situation I told Jon, just wait. People are going to get all bent out of shape now about reproductive medicine. And in watching and reading the reactions to this story, I believe this is exactly what has happened. And dear lord, if people who struggle with infertility didn’t need more heartache and obstacles put in their way. As I say in the video, it’s such a shame that the media has turned this into such a circus, this isolated incident involving an obviously questionable and renegade doctor who I think holds most of the blame if there is any in this situation. And all it serves to do is make it harder for other people, other reasonable individuals, to explore their reproductive options. Because all of a sudden people are now saying asinine things about how women should be forced to adopt if they can’t conceive a child without medicine, or how the people of California should be able to force Nadya to give up her children because their tax dollars are being used to help raise them. Yes, how about we give a multiple choice test to women and let a committee decide who is and who isn’t fit to be a mother. Anyone with tattoos need not apply!

Is this an unfortunate and complicated situation? Absolutely, and I do not think it is physically possible for one person to take care of the basic needs of 14 children. She is going to need a considerable amount of help, and as much as people might be disgusted by Nadya, there are 14 children here who had no say at all as to what conditions they’d be born into. But again, I think this is an extremely isolated incident, and making sweeping statements and judgments about women’s reproductive rights and options because of it is ill-conceived and bone-headed.

I can’t believe I’m going to open comments on this because I imagine there will be a lot of screaming, but I’d love to hear from men and women who have struggled with infertility and would encourage others to listen to their side of this issue. Everyone play nice.

  • Angie

    Please stop saying LITTER, that just pisses me off.
    They are babies, not puppies!!!
    The whole situation is just wrong.

  • sbk

    After viewing Momversation, I have to expand on the “personal choice” comment. Yes, becoming a parent (or not) is an individual choice and I agree wholeheartedly that these choices should remain individual and not involve the government.

    However, when you are making the choice to bring a child into the world, it’s not just about you anymore. It is not just your life that you’re affecting. These babies were not involved in her personal choice, yet all of the consequences of her personal choice are theirs to endure. And I do hope that they lead lovely, balanced lives. But the odds are not good when you are one of 13 other siblings in a family with one parent, no income, and not a lot of community support. Let’s hope that people can curb their disdain, though, and realize that at the end of the day it’s about supporting these kids. Because they didn’t make this decision that is being so vigorously debated.

  • karen

    i think that of all issues, people need to quit being so pc about this whole nadya suleman situation. she’s nuts, she’s a financial wreck and she shouldn’t have had 14 babies. furthermore, it stops becoming a private issue when you start up a website asking for donations.

  • long time reader, first time commenter here…

    I agree we should be wary of the slippery slope and must afford and protect reproductive freedom. To that end, I also agree government regulation is NOT the answer. This decision should remain between a woman, her family, and doctor. In this case, it’s clear the doctor violated the standard of practice — ethically and I think with negligence as it was a danger to mother and babies.

    And yes, the media sensationalism and backlash is disturbing, but not surprising. It’s true the woman may be a walking freak show (with her media spots instead of NICU visits, etc.). BUT let’s admit there is ALREADY a huge societal stigma on infertility and treatment. The media attention and discourse only furthers the negative views and judgments about women and families that are forced to resort to high-tech ways of family building.

  • Jenn

    Thank you, Heather, for this post. If it weren’t for IVF, I would be an only child. My mom had IVF in 1990 (one baby) and again in 1996 (twins). They were meant to be a part of our family, and I don’t believe we were messing with “Pandora’s box” to get them here.

    There’s definitely a difference between the octuplets’ mom and a family with the financial and emotional means to welcome another child or two into the family–even if it’s through non-traditional means.

    Bravo to the *sane* ladies and their doctors who choose IVF.

  • I mostly agree with you. But, I’m sorry, I do think her children should be taken from her. Not because of the cost to the taxpayers, but because she is obviously unstable and quite ill-equipped. This is a Child Protective Services issue. I feel so sorry for those kids, and for all those struggling with infertility that have been subjected to the insane amount of media exposure that this nutjob is getting. I truly hope that these kids get taken care of somehow, that this doctor is held responsible in some way, and that this crazy woman fades into the background as soon as possible.

    As someone who is having multiples (um… not planned, COMPLETELY natural, and only two), I can tell you how daunting the task is (and I haven’t even had them yet!) And I only have one other child, whom I get to stay home with, and my husband makes an excellent living. My entire family is around to help me. I’m only having twins. So if I’m feeling this scared and uncertain, and she’s NOT, then either she is super brave or super stupid. I’m guessing it’s the latter.

    And finally, I’m so glad I don’t live in CA now. I don’t think it’s fair that this woman OR her doctor can get away with this. Isn’t that state far enough in the red already?? Those children need to be taken care of, but not at the expense of others who had NO SAY when this woman decided to implant and then keep all those babies. I’m not saying that they shouldn’t receive the help, because they should. They didn’t ask to be born to this psycho. I’m just saying that she should be held responsible, somehow. Fraud?? I dunno. BUT SOMEHOW.

    Hopefully I don’t get reamed for all that, but oh well.

  • Anonymous

    When I saw the pictures of the babies, most only about 3 pounds, all I could think was, “this is child abuse.”

    The mother and doctor should both be charged. So, so sad.

  • I have heard and read about this woman, but the thing is, I can’t bring myself to get into the details of it. In fact, your entry gave me about double the information that I had.

    Last year about this time my husband and I suffered our third miscarriage – the loss of an extremely hard-fought pregnancy. We finally…FINALLY…got pregnant again, and by God if the little bugger didn’t up and die on us at week 12.

    So into the deep abyss of depression I go, complete with a perhaps-too-close relationship with my prescription bottle of Xanax and pillow.

    Long story short – I’m better now. But I can’t bring myself to read about what happened in depth, because I know I’ll be really angry.

    I agree with everything you said – wait and see; isolated instance; folks with real fertility issues will be unfairly criticized. I am not a judgmental person, and will never know the path that brings another to make a decision. However, I can’t bring myself to get into this controversy because I want babies so very, very badly that sometimes that makes the jealous Jen in me come out to play, and I’ll want to go Raising Arizona on her and just go and get one of the (many) babies.

    (Notice to any officials reading this – I totally won’t steal one of her babies. My own sweet H-I wouldn’t ever be on board with that business.)

  • Okay, first I personally think one child is enough for anyone to handle, though I have two because I realized this far too late. Yes I love them both and wouldn’t change a thing. So obviously I personally cannot understand why anyone would want to have 6 kids or any other multiple of 2, such as 14. However, I feel I don’t understand this lady, know her or have enough information to judge her. People have been really mean. Someone sent me a facebook invite of 1 million against Nadya Sulemun. That’s just mean. People need to lighten up and chill out. Maybe in her last life she was a child serial killer and she’s making up for it in this life. Yeah, that is far fetched, but I don’t pretend to understand the irrational behavior that occurs on this strange planet. Beam me up, Scotty.

  • Anonymous

    @#15, actually Jon and Kate used fertility drugs but didn’t have IVF. The accounts that I read showed that during their treatment, their very ethical physician used injectible stimulants and monitoried follicles with ultrasound. They predicted 3 mature eggs. Triplets, AT MOST, if all eggs fertilized and implanted. Everyone was shocked to see 6 (or was it 7?) heartbeats on that 6 week ultrasound. Even Jon and Kate were distressed and had NEVER intended such a birth. She wanted 1 more after previous twins, a modest 3 children, total.

    IVF is different because the number of embryos is known. It SHOULD be better controlled. IVF is supposed to prevent the high order multiples in which IUI and other treatments have resulted.

    (It doesn’t mean we all have to love Jon & Kate, but it is different.)

  • Anonymous

    Based on what you said, I am curious if you think there is a contradiction.
    1. This woman should be allowed absolute reproductive freedom, including the choice to do with her body what she wants
    2. It is the doctor’s fault for letting her exercise that freedom

    Perhaps there were unethical use by the doctor of practices otherwise used to help couples struggling with infertility. If so, that does not mean a majority of doctors would make the same choices, just as a majority of people have not made the same choices that this patient has.

    The oaths that a doctor takes only go so far to protect their patients. They have to warn their patients of the hazards of their decisions, and they can offer advice if it is sought. But they cannot tell a patient what to choose, just as you are saying no one should try to infringe on this woman’s reproductive freedom. They are not supposed to infringe on these rights.

    Perhaps the ethics of this specific doctor could be called into question. But I do not think that the profession is at fault.

    If this decision is truly the choice of the patient, it is their job to make sure they are informed as they have to live with the consequences of their decision. It is the doctor’s job to help them through the process of understanding the implications of possible choices they might make, not to make their decisions for them.

  • Carla

    I work for a Divorce attorney and he once told me something very thought-provoking. We have laws about when people can legally smoke, drink, drive, marry… and a whole list of other things that you MUST be a certain age (or have permission) to do. However, you can have a child at any age, and you can have as many as you want. A 14 year old (occassionally younger even) can have a baby and keep it without anyone flinching an eye of whether or not a 14 year old is capable of caring for said child. It is hard to regulate the issue of child birth, and I don’t think there is any outcome that would work for everyone.

    I do feel very sad for all children involved in this mess. And I think the Dr should absolutely have his license revoked.

  • Paula

    Unfortunately, the “news” about infertility often involves someone having multiples, which makes it harder for those of us faced with explaining our decisions to pursue infertility treatment to family members.

    Several years ago, when I told my mother that I was pregnant after infertility treatments, she asked me nervously if there were “eight babies in there.” That wasn’t the joyous reception I’d hoped for, especially from a mother who endured infertility, with many fewer treatment options, for 15 years before I happily came along. The happy reception soon followed.

    Our reproductive endocrinologist was cautious, professional, and helpful. My husband and I had 1 child via IVF and a second child via IVF two years later. For me, the world wouldn’t be the same place without them.

  • Ellen

    Every single day responsible people all over the world make hard decisions regarding how many children they are going to have. Only a very irresponsible, immature person would knowingly bring 8 more children into a home where there are 6 others who are barely getting their basic needs met. She is a sick woman, do we really need to sit by and let her eff up these innocent babies?

  • Christine

    I knew Nadya was nuts when she said she had always wanted a big family because she was an only child. Heh – I’m an only and can assure you I’ve never wanted 6 or 14 kids. I think the doctor, not Nadya, has abused the progress made in fertility treatments. How many times did he implant her with six embryos… this multiple birth was bound to happen.

  • Michele

    Live and let live. Nobody has all of the facts on this woman. So we shouldn’t judge. But, as Rebecca Woolf says, we do anyway.

    Apropos of nothing, please don’t use that particular loop of music for the momversations anymore. It made me want to go out and break a few windows.

  • purpleshoes

    If you give people choices, some people will do things with them that you kind of wish on a certain level that they had not done.

    Like have eight children. Or eight children plus six at home. Or twenty children. Heck, I still believe in overpopulation. I quake at the sight of Quiverfulls.

    The consequences of taking away that choice are still worse than the consequences of letting people make decisions that sometimes they make in crazypants ways. Though I think the doctor really should have screened better for a willingness to selectively reduce, because pregnancy can be a life-threatening physical condition, and you probably do not want to create the chance of high-order multiples for people who have serious moral objections to selective reduction. (Not that people with objections to selective reduction shouldn’t have fertility services! Just, it seems prudent to go one embryo at a time in that case?). It seems a little like doing elective surgery on someone who has moral objections to antibiotics or blood transfusions. You’re putting your patient in a horrible situation if things don’t go as planned.

  • My mom had issues with fertility and was able to conceive due to the help of fertility doctors. So, I’m glad she had that option or else I wouldn’t be sitting in this office 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, wishing I had never been born.

  • Debra

    Oh my.

    My husband and I have one beautiful daughter. We wanted another, but due to my age, we’ve been unsuccessful. (two miscarriages)

    We have tried some infertility treatments, and OUR doctor had us sign documents certifying my husband and I were of sound mind, and were in a solid committed relationship. They offered us Inutero, Invitro, and the option of egg donor. We tried Inutero, and I miscarried again. Even with Invitro, my chances of carrying to term were less than 5% with my own eggs. Donor was an option, but if I’m going to that extreme, why not adopt a child that is here already and needs a home.

    WHat amazes me is this Doctor allowing this procedure to go through when this woman is not in a stable relationship, AND has 6 children at home, 3 with disabilities. He’s obviously only interested in the money that Nadya is willing to fork over to have this done. She’s also a bit off her rocker I have to say. One child is running me ragged!

  • dd

    It’s really refreshing to hear people be AGAINST regulating IVF as a result of this woman’s case. I’ve been surrounded by people willing to regulate away in ways they wouldn’t even consider if it were abortion on the table.

  • My grandmother had 14 children, (my mom is #11). This means she was pregnant for 10 solid years. Her last child was born in the 1950’s, there was no extra curricular activities involved in her having that many children. Just life on a rural farm and Catholic church. All of her children are healthy and prosperous.

    Now that I am a mother, I understand why she was so tired, and often grouchy, and looks so wiped out in photos. It is not appropriate to tell others how to live their lives or what to do with their own bodies, it is in all of our interests to see common sense prevail.

    When I hear people say, “I really want to have a baby.” I am tempted to respond: “Maybe you should start with a bear cub.” Babies are not accessories. They grow up, they have more needs and requirements than any of us can imagine until we have one, let alone 14. Being a parent has little to do with biology and whole lot more to do with love, care and nurturing.

    I hope Nadya Suleman has her fertility doctor’s home and cell numbers programmed into her phone and she calls frequently in the middle of the night. He owes those babies too.

  • Bonzai

    RE: Jon & Kate They did not have in vitro, they used artificial insemination and meds to stimulate ovulation. Kate readily admits that they are considered a “fertility nightmare” and that they made a conscious decision not to reduce for personal reasons. They had thought they’d up with another set of twins at the most.

    I also concur with those who have asked – How is she paying for all of this? The previous pregnancies and this one? I was blessedly able to conceive easily, but my understanding is that the treatments are very expensive. How does a grad student living at home afford one treatment, much less 7?

    I think the doctor should have his license revoked. He put this woman, and those babies, at terrible risk. I don’t care if she requested it. Ethically and medically, he knew it was dangerous.

    As far as the mother, I don’t understand her choices. I just hope that the kids all receive the love, food, clothing, etc. that they need.

    I shudder to think what the medical bills will be when all is said and done. My youngest spent 3 months in the NICU, and has had numerous procedures. We jokingly call him the million dollar baby, but that’s probably about right.

  • Tina

    We went through infertility, although not in vitro. We felt that, for us only, that was playing God too much. We went the injectible drug route and ended up with quadruplets. Our doctors pushed and pushed us to “reduce” the number of babies. We didn’t like that option. One died after a very premature birth.

    We found out the hard way that that was their policy–get women pregnant as quickly as possible and then reduce if there ended up being “too many”. Unfortunately, we didn’t know that going in to their practice. We thought they were good, cautious and capable.

    The mother of octuplets has a hole inside of her that she is trying to fill with children. It’s not going to work.

    And the doctor? He/She should lose his/her license.

  • Anonymous

    ouch. comment 105 hurts my heart.

  • Amy S

    I truly believe that all generalizations are never good.

    But seriously, I agree 100%.

  • Anonymous

    Fertility rights aside, how on earth did this woman get plastic surgery if she’s on Welfare? This, to me, is the most angering point. Those kids are in for quite a life…

  • Dewshane

    I watched a bit of this woman’s interview on Dateline and was surprised by how lucid she is. Because anybody who would choose to have 14 babies all by herself can’t be all there, I figured. What on earth made her keep going back for more babies once she had six? When is enough enough? There is no question to me what she did is irresponsible. It’s one thing to get pregnant accidentally when you know you cannot afford a child. It’s quite another to put 8 embryos in your womb when you’ve already got 6 mouths to feed at home. And it is a terrible shame that a story like this gets all of the attention when there are so many beautiful, miraculous stories of responsible parents having children with the help of science.

    The real victim in this story? Nadya’s mother. I heard her home is in foreclosure. I’m assuming she didn’t want to raise 14 children since she only had one herself, but presto chango, now she has an enormous brood living under her roof! What a terrible position to be in…Nadya left her with little choice. How can she turn her grandchildren away? Yet how can she enjoy letting her daughter and her daughter’s children rule her life like that? Really unfair.

  • I was never under the impression that this was a negative for IVF. My opinion is that this is an isolated case of a crazy woman who can’t make an educated decision for herself. She took complete advantage of a technology that is incredibly helpful for a lot of people, and tainted it by going to the extreme.

    People SHOULD be mad at this woman. She knew she had no job. She knew she had no source of income. She knew she had 6 kids at home, 3 of whom have developmental issues, who would need her care and support and attention. And yet, she selfishly ignored her kids because she wanted more.

    I am in full support of having as many kids as you want – in whatever way works for you – IF you can pay for them and support them and give them a healthy environment to grow up in. That woman cannot, and THAT is my problem.

    Her selfishness is now translating into 14 kids at home who cannot possibly get the individual love and care they deserve, paid for by the government. Not cool.

  • Anonymous

    There are been a number of references to the 18 and Counting family, questions as to why there is no public outcry against their choices and claims of discrimination against a single mom.

    I really don’t see the 2 families or the choices as comparable.

    The 18 and Counting family did not have 14 of their kids “at once”. Raising 14 babies (with special needs due to premature births) at once as a single mom with no source of income and no home is rather different than 2 self supporting parents, with their own home, having 18 healthy kids over the span of 20 years.

    The 18 and Counting family clearly demonstrated financial and physical ability to provide for their children as they added each child.

  • Jen

    Would she have qualified to adopt 1 child let alone 14? I don’t think so, not legally anyway.

    The doctor(s) are as much to blame as she is. They saw easy money in their pockets when she walked in the door.

  • I too had to devote a blog post to this story…my “take” on it was that even aside from the obvious financial issues (which cannot be ignored because they are huge) is the simple fact that THAT number of children is…. [insert your favorite adjective here]. My husband comes from a family of seven siblings and he can attest all too well to the impact on his life and that was a household with two parents. The entire “Octomom” situation looks very tragic from all angles, there is no getting around it.

  • Rissa

    This is rare, but I’m going to agree with ‘Anonymous’ this round. Comments 6, 110, and 116 in particular. Both this woman and her doctor are prime examples of why people pass judgment on IVF and other fertility procedures. Those against it were just given EXIBIT A — crazy people abusing it, thus costing the tax payers and most likely, and most importantly, seriously screwing with 14 children’s lives. My opinion is that of yours, Heather, both when it comes to abortion and conceiving children, however its done, that its up to the woman to decide and be in control of “the family she desires.” But I also think there should be stipulations, and one of them most certainly is: cannot be a baby-crazed lunatic consulting with an irresponsible doctor. My heart goes out to her children.

  • Julie

    Myself/my husband/our situation: over $100K out of pocket spent on IVF in 11 years, 5 miscarriages, one ectopic from IVF, one near death experience, 1 healthy baby. I was 33 when I had a successful pregnancy. My RE wouldn’t even entertain the thought of putting back more than 3 embryos during a fresh cycle and no more than 2 in a frozen cycle. Her doctor should share the majority of the blame, he acted recklessly. I’m not a CA resident but if I was I’d be raising 18 kinds of hell. When the majority of the 50 states have no IF coverage for women/men on insurance it makes it a pretty damn big pill to swallow. I don’t think she should be given any govt assistance. I think her doctor should have to pay to take care of every child he helped her conceive. I think he was probably trying to make his success rate look better on paper. I think couples facing IF DO have enough headaches dealing with the IF controversy out there without having to deal with bad press. The only time the issue ever comes up is when people, like this woman, has a story to put out there. What about me? What about the couple that struggles for years and years and spends countless amounts of money out of their own pocket to have ONE baby? No glitz and glamor for me, I suppose. Which is totally fine b/c I’m not out there on a personal website begging for “donations” to support the 14 children I now have a result of my own stupid actions. Her doctor should have NEVER transferred that many embryos and personally I think he should have stopped treating her when it became clear she wasn’t infertile, she’s just ignorant.

    People who want to put rules on couples having to adopt when they can’t conceive naturally are clearly people who haven’t walked a mile in my defective uterine shoes.

    This woman completely disgusts me!

  • Graham

    I think this particular woman probably chose poorly. She’s apparently well intentioned, but my hunch is this will not work out so well in the end. We don’t know yet and until we do, it’s improper for us collectively to act. She and her parents might turn out to do a perfectly acceptable job of raising all these kids and in that case we’ll have nothing bad to say and we’ll have fourteen more productive members of society.

    As to the tax thing, I’m childfree and plan never to have any kids, but part of being a member of society is you support ALL of society because you benefit from the collective membership. By paying taxes now to help out families on welfare I’m investing in their future (just a little bit) and hedging (just a little bit too) against having to pay MORE later when they wound up in jail instead because they didn’t get fed or educated and so didn’t thrive in their early life.

    Furthermore, one instance is never a reason to change the rules. If suddenly hundreds of women were having families of a dozen kids while they had no financial support, then it’s probably time to change the rules – but we are not there yet and I’d be very surprised if we ever get there.

    Everyone has the right to make their own choices when it comes to fertility, and they also have the responsibility to accept the consequences of their actions.

  • Tara L

    I believe in reproductive freedom, have 20 kids if you like. The problem I have with this is she is expecting others to pay for them. Like my Dad always told me “You made your bed, now lay in it!”

  • Hate the OctoMom as much as you want, this particular snafu is all on the good doctor. Physicians have a responsibility to do more than just do as they’re told, and I’d love to know wtf this guy was thinking when he agreed to this procedure. What’s sad is how these children will suffer for the stupidity of others, as children usually do. And the State of California will pay for it. ‘Cause you KNOW that’s a way better investment than say, paying our teachers. *sigh* All I can do is be grateful that this is, in fact, an isolated instance. For now.

  • I agree with Tara. I think you should be able to have as many kids as you want, BUT you should have the means to give that child a deserving life.

  • Christine

    Did you get your lips plumped?

  • NashvilleMom

    We never would have conceived without IVF. Now we have a gorgeous daughter who is about to turn 3. We also just got pregnant with our second, due in October. Our doctor never transfers more than two embryos at a time. We had one of two succeed when they were fresh, and the remaining four were frozen. When we went back the first time, neither of the two took. On this try, with our last two, we have one more baby on the way.

    I never really wanted to carry multiples or raise multiples and have to admit that I feel good about the way it all turned out… no embryos discarded and two singleton pregnancies. The frozen ones might have performed better than 25% if we had transferred them all when they were fresh, though.

    I used to feel odd about it. It seemed so random to me that we gave birth to this one and not that one. Or that my daughter will be three and half years older than her sibling even though they were conceived at the same time. It could just as easily have been the other way around. But then a friend of mine pointed out that it is just as random the natural way. What if his wife had stopped her pills a month earlier? What if he had had fruit for breakfast instead of toast, you know? That made me feel better about it all. It is very random, and all of us could have had alot of children that we never had because we abstained or used birth control or whatever.

  • cabridelle

    For me, it’s not about this one case bringing up feelings of disapproval towards women who are trying to conceive in vitro. I have disapproved of this for a long time. There are way too many people in the world, it’s that simple. We MUST slow down our reproduction rate. I plan on having one kid, and adopt a second if I can convince my partner to do so. If it turns out one or both of us are infertile, tough. I will either have no kids, or adopt. To me, infertility might just be nature’s way, through evolution, of telling us that we are too many. Even if we don’t obey nature’s laws, it will still prevail as infertility can be inherited. So where will trying too hard bring us in the end? A future population that can no longer reproduced “normally” is not excluded. Before anyone decides to argue, please consider that I am a scientist and there are studies to support my above arguments.

  • My opinion is here, on Flickr, along with a pretty picture:

  • Molly

    I agree with what you said in the video that we have a right to make reproductive decisions, period, so this is not a legal matter. I also think though that serious working-out of the ethics around fertility treatments have (of course) lagged behind their implementation. I really do believe in the capacity of boards of fertility doctors to be able to handle coming up with ethics rules and being able to self-monitor their profession. Getting the law in between women and their doctors is, as we know, a completely horrible idea.

    That said, the law does have an interest in protecting children brought into this world, one way or another. And quite frankly, if those children are not being taken care of, social services needs to step in. I would think a case like this would already require social services monitoring. Of course, when was the last time we adequately funded children and family services? Oh yeah, never. Why pay for people to make sure children are safe and healthy when there are wars to fight and banks to rescue? [She steps down from her soap box]. It’s like this situation my sister recently got involved in–she’s a foster mother to a baby who was not allowed to leave the hospital with her mother after she was born. The mother was addicted to drugs, a prostitute, and violent. Ain’t nobody’s going to stop that woman from having kids, but once that kid is out into the world, the nurses and the law are not going to let her take that child home and put her in danger.

    And one more “that said” that I think is missing from these discussions. Frankly, I think there is an inherent risk of neglect in any family that has an unusually large number of children (yes, Duggars, I’m talking to you). I was a sensitive child in a family of a dozen, and though legally I was beautifully treated, I was absolutely deprived of attention and love in ways I’m still grappling with. Whether or not those children survive, the Duggars or those from the Octomom, a parent has to do so much more than keep you alive. The emotional pain of rarely ever being hugged, kissed, or randomly reminded that you are uniquely deserving of love is vicious–we as humans are programmed to arrive in the world needing those things, too.

  • Bob

    The WRONG thing to do would be to leap into legislation to solve a situation that hasn’t even been determined to be a problem. I.E., how many women are doing this that it needs to be a law to control it?

    Two people made bad decisions here. 1) The woman who already couldn’t take care of the kids she had, but wanted more; and 2) the doctor who implanted 6 embryos that led to 8 under-weight, premature babies.

    I agree with many who’ve said that a woman’s reproductive rights shouldn’t be legislated (including the right to abortion???) as there is no way for it to be done fairly. The government just shouldn’t have that kind of power over its citizens. And now that it’s a done deal, the children should receive whatever care they need to survive and live (as normal as can be) normal, healthy lives. If their mother cannot provide it, then maybe the children should be placed in foster care. There are existing agencies that control these things, no new laws required.

    As doctors, by law, have a governing body that has control over licensing, I think that the doctor who guided her care and implanted the embryos should be referred to the AMA for evaluation for unethical behavior. I would think with this publicity he is having a difficult time finding new patients – or partners with which to practice.

  • GG

    As someone who has faced infertility, I think NO ONE is in a position to tell me or anyone else how to conceive a child. I do, however, feel that what the doctor and Ms. Suleman did was insane. The point that myself and my family take issue with is that she ALREADY HAD SIX. In her Ann Curry interview, she stated that she felt the world was against her because she was a single mother–NO. The world is seemingly stupified by you because you already had children and are now adding to them with no means of support. It’s not the fact that you are a single mother, I feel that the world would have come together and supported her had she been single, employed, childless, and went in and suddenly found out she was having eight. IF she had been a person longing to have a child and had the treatments done WITH A PLAN in place to support them–you know, right minded and all, someone with NO OTHER CHILDREN, people would have had more sympathy. No one faults a person for trying to have children–the goal of infertility treatments is ONE HEALTHY CHILD, and when multiples happen, people want to help. This is just sad. She truly needs counselling, and it’s ironic she’s getting a Master’s Degree in that very subject. She had kids to fill a void in her lonely life, she did not have children out of a longing to parent. It’s just troubling.

  • I think it’s a slippery slope. While I think everyone should have the right to plan their families, I think that brings responsibility to plan according to what you can financially/emotionally/physically handle. When you can’t provide for your children and have to depend on handouts to feed and shelter them, you have abused the freedom.

  • I don’t have any children and I’m not infertile, but I think that woman has been very irresponsible. Irresponsible and selfish, because she was only thinking about what she wanted, not about the children. Even if she wants her kids to be healthy and all that, how is she going to keep 14 kids healthy if she doesn’t even have a job? I really don’t understand what line of thought she’s followed for this.
    Heather, you already said it, it is difficult enough to raise one kid, let alone 14.
    Love your blog, keep up the good work!

  • Ellen

    I totally agree that this case shouldn’t affect whether other women can get fertility treatment. That being said, I think it was incredibly irresponsible to choose to have more children when she already had 6 children and no job and minimal help raising them. Of course I have no idea what was going through her mind at the time so I can’t judge, but I’m thinking that those kids are probably better off with parent(s) who are more capable of supporting a family.

    It baffles me a little that this woman–who was apparently unemployed and already raising 6 kids–could have possibly afforded IVF.

  • Paula

    As someone who has gone through the entire IVF procedure, I am appalled at the doctor’s judgment. My husband and I were set on not transferring more than 2 embryos. When it came time, the embryologist and RE suggested putting in 3 because of the quality of the eggs and my age. We discussed the possibilty of triplets and both professionals assured us multiple births is not the goal of IVF and they believed our greatest chance for success was for all 3 to be transferred. We took their recommendation and are awaiting the arrival of our (single) son anyday now.

    For the woman to even want 6 embryos transferred is ridiculous – and how could she afford it? It took us 3 years to save up the money to pay for the treatments and we both make very good salaries. I don’t understand how someone that doesn’t have a job could have afforded the treatment multiple times.

  • I couldn’t agree with you more. I think that it is really sad to see the media blow this whole thing out of proportion. I just hope that her kids get the things that they need, and that there is plenty of love and attention in their day to day lives. Like you said, it’s not their fault that they were born into these conditions. I do think that this woman is not all there mentally, but I don’t think that anyone should mess with other peoples rights when it comes to having children.

    Her doctor should lose his license to practice.

  • AK

    On a related subject, is it OK to have 17-18 children like the family in Arkansas or the couple from Jon & Kate + 8, and then exploit the details of their lives in the media to earn your living?

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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