In the U.S., when it became clear that octomom Nadya Suleman was already a single mother of six other children—and on disability and food stamps and living with, though publicly chastised by, her own mother—the big collective question was: "How could she do such a thing?" In western Europe, the real puzzler is: "How could she have been allowed to do such a thing?"

There is no good answer. Suleman's bizarre circumstances, although impossible to ignore, are really just a cherry on top of an absurdity sundae. The most appalling fact remains this: a doctor transferred six embryos into one woman. Even if that woman were a rich, childless, blissfully married paragon of emotional stability, that act would be an outrage, for it would still pose a serious risk to her life and health, and to her potential children. It would still require that prodigious resources and expertise be poured into a strenuously self-created medical emergency. Therefore, in an even semi-rational environment, it would be expressly prohibited, as indeed it is in many other countries.

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