Monday, February 02, 2009

reproductive ethics

The recent delivery of octuplets has me thinking about reproductive ethics. The mother of the octuplets had six children before having the most recent 8. She conceived by in vitro fertilization, and asked that all 8 fertilized eggs be implanted. She is a single mother, and does not have the financial resources to pay the full cost of her medical care. The cost for the delivery is well over $100,000.

By all accounts, she is a good mother. But I feel that this is wrong, and I am trying to work out why. I believe that I cannot be forced to carry a child to term that I do not want. The converse, that I should not be forced to terminate a pregnancy that I do want, also applies. Is the issue that this was voluntary? She chose to implant the 8 embryos, knowing that all 8 could, and did, develop into babies. Is it that she chose to have children she cannot afford? That's part of it, although it is a slippery slope to go down ethically, to say that being able to afford children is a requirement for having them. Is it the medical costs that society will bear, for what is a voluntary event? Again, that definitely weighs for me.

Is it the medical risk of the procedure? It borders on malpractice to implant 8 embryos... it is significantly more dangerous for mother and child, with each additional embryo. Where was the counseling? the medical advice and responsibility in this process?

What about the children? 14 children, all conceived via in vitro, 8 of them premature and low birth weight. How much attention can 1 single parent provide to these 14 children? How will they feel about themselves and their mother? Will they be healthy? Happy?

Where is the line? is there a point where someone has too many children? should society have any say? should medicine? because we can achieve 8 multiple births, should we?

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