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Octuplets and ethics
When a single mother of six gets help to have eight more
 

Before the octuplet mom, Nadya Suleman, even left the hospital, said Ellen Goodman in The Boston Globe, “the whole country had gone from ‘Gee whiz!’ to ‘Are you kidding?’” What was originally heralded as a medical miracle is now an ethical morass: Turns out Suleman, 33 and single, already had six kids; all 14 children were conceived using a sperm donor; and “for good measure," she's unemployed.

She can’t work because her back was injured on the job, during a 1999 mental-hospital riot, said Mike Fleeman and Howard Breuer in People, for which she’s collected $168,000 in disability pay. And her explanation for the large brood is equally prosaic: In a new NBC interview, she said she’s always dreamed of having “a large family, a huge family,” perhaps due to a “dysfunctional” upbringing as an only child.

Still, 14 kids? said Rosemary Roberts in the Greensboro, N.C., News & Record. “What on earth was the woman thinking?” And what was her fertility doctor thinking? There are no laws limiting the number of embryos you can implant, but there are medical guidelines, which apparently need tightening.

When did fertility become the new “f-word”? said Brendan O’Neill in Britain’s Spiked. There's a creepy Western discomfort with reproduction behind the “what was she thinking?" reaction. Some see it as a waste of money and ecological resources, others as evidence that we should police fertility treatment, but it all boils down to a presumption that we can decide who is “right” and “wrong” for parenthood.

 

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