Fertility drugs: to regulate or not to regulate?

Nadya Suleman has been all over the news since she gave birth to octuplets last week. The mother from southern California had six children already before giving birth by Caesarian section to eight more after receiving payment for in vitro fertilization.

A lot of the public eye (including Barnard President Debora Spar) has scrutinized her decision to have so many children, claiming that it displays irresponsibility in the fertility industry. However, Suleman denies these charges, calling her decision an unconventional one that was nonetheless carefully thought out. She attributes her unusual decision to a lifelong desire to have a large family, and believes that she will afford raising her fourteen kids after finishing school.

According to Bloomberg.com,

Nadya Suleman received in vitro fertilization treatments from an unnamed provider, then delivered eight babies by Caesarean section on Jan. 26. She had six embryos implanted, she said today in an interview on NBC’s Today Show, and two of them divided into twins.

She probably had the multiple embryos implanted in her by “a rogue clinic,” said Jeffrey Steinberg, a Los Angeles fertility doctor who wasn’t involved in her treatment. While implanting that many embryos exceeds the guidelines of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, it doesn’t violate any law.

What do you think of Suleman’s decision?

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3 thoughts on “Fertility drugs: to regulate or not to regulate?

  1. This case perplexes me on two levels. First, I am totally confounded by the existence of fertility drugs when we are already living in an unsustainable way.

    The second thing is the enormous amount of judgment that is being heaped upon this woman. I don’t agree with or understand her choice either, but I thought that was the whole point–choice. If I shouldn’t have to justify my decision to have an abortion or one child or an adoption, then Nadya Suleman shouldn’t have to justify her decision to have so many children. This is her private business. I guess Debora Spar sees her as a symptom of the baby business she wrote about in her book, but it’s one thing to criticize what may be an ethically questionable industry, and totally another to criticize one woman’s reproductive choices. I am really disappointed in President Spar at the way she has specifically targeted Ms. Suleman.

  2. I am really torn on this issue. Being 100% pro-choice, as you point out Meg, should mean that I support any choice: having a baby, not having a baby, having 8 babies at once. Yet I am really frustrated by this situation, because I like to think that choice and responsibility always go hand-in-hand, which I don’t see as being the case here. A woman making a decision to have children that she cannot support undermines the fight for freedom of choice in general. I would never want Nadya Suleman’s case targeted as “the poster child… for more regulation in this industry”- her case is not representative of the majority of cases involving fertility treatments- but I do support President Spar’s belief in the need for greater regulation of the fertility industry in general.

  3. I agree, Emily… there should be more regulation, at least on the doctor/clinic level.. but I really believe (like you said) that when women have choice and information, they will make responsible, sustainable decisions, and we have to see this case as an outlier: sometimes people make choices we’re not comfortable with, and that’s their business. Otherwise, *we* are the ones undermining choice, rather than the women exerting those choices…

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