Motherhood and Medical Ethics

I find the blog reactions to the octuplet mom interesting.  It falls largely in the extremes — she is a sick freak, or her decisions about what to do with her body are none of your business even if it is going to cost us money.  I find my self disagreeing with both extremes.

I suspect she may have some mental health issues, but I am not in a position to judge what they are, and mental health issues rate sympathy, and should have rated intervention by those close enough to the situation to do so, including the fertility clinic, not scorn.

As for the automatic “her-reproductive-decisions-are-none-of-your-business” response, I can’t agree with that either.  And it is not because she is poor, or unmarried.  I would have at least some of the same issues with this even if it had been a rich couple that could afford to provide for these kids in a manner I can only dream about.

There is an economic issue.  Since Kaiser delivered and is caring for these premies, and I am a member of Kaiser, and currently struggling to make my health insurance payments in a declining economy, this is somewhat more personally ‘on my dime’ than just the fact that the taxpayers will wind up paying to care for these kids in a number of ways, and we will. But money is not the primary issue.

Fertility treatment is a legitimate use of medical resources, and should not be contingent on marital status or wealth, but it should not be used to produce high multiple births.  If she had produce 14 kids in 7-14 pregnancies, I might question her judgement, but I would not consider it my business.  But pursuing a high multiple birth by having 6 embryos implanted (reports are saying 2 of the embryos twinned in utero) is unethical, and the clinic had an obligation to refuse to do so, even if she wanted it.  This action put not only the mother at risk, but insured ensured that all of the babies would be premature, low birth-weight babies that would have life-long problems.  Even if the potential parents have the money to pay for all of the medical care themselves, and all of the help they will need to raise the children, it would still be unethical.

That is why this should not have happened.  Not because she isn’t married, and doesn’t have any money.