Is fertility treatment ever wrong? Lessons from octuplets: a doctor’s opinion.

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

News about the octuplets birth is still coming out–and it still bothers me.  Why would any health-care provider give fertility treatment to a single mother who already has six children?

This is what happens when moral and ethical judgments go out the window.  She asked, she is entitled, she received.  If health-care professionals cannot handle responsibility like this, what are we getting ourselves into with genetic engineering and beyond?

On the other hand, when do we draw the line?  Who are we to judge?

But think about the financial costs alone.  There was a 46-member team of doctors.  The eight babies ranged in weight from 1 pound, 8 ounces, to 3 pounds 4 ounces.  I’m guessing they’ll stay in the intensive-care unit around one to six weeks each.

Even if you think the mother deserves fertility aid like anyone else, regardless of her socioeconomic circumstances and six children, the health risks to the mother and babies are at very high danger levels.

Human women don’t conceive eight babies in the natural world.  After a fertility treatment, there are ways to a know how many eggs ovulate. Apparently, most doctors would avoid fertilizing the eggs altogether if they’re multiple.  Of course, there is always abortion of some of the eggs, but that is for a whole different argument.

Now that they’re born, I wish them the best, but I think there should be a health investigation into the fertility clinic and doctors to find out details surrounding this incident.  Why was it done?  Was there any logic behind it?  Did they take the mother’s mental status into consideration?  The state medical society should be involved, along with any regulatory groups.  I only know what I read on this story and I usually regret judging without all the facts, but this kind of thing just should never happen.

What do you think?

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9 Responses to “Is fertility treatment ever wrong? Lessons from octuplets: a doctor’s opinion.”

  1. Dr. J Says:

    During my Ob/Gyn rotation in school, we were faced with a similar problem. The staff refused to perform the procedure.

    Dr. Js last blog post..Nibbles: Watching TV as a teen leads to poor diet later, diabetes drug recalled in China and eating during and after “The Biggest Loser”

  2. cathy Says:

    I agree with you! The whole situation is disturbing and needs to be investigated. And I love this quote, “If health-care professionals cannot handle responsibility like this, what are we getting ourselves into with genetic engineering and beyond?” So true!

    cathys last blog post..So you’re ready to give up high fructose corn syrup…

  3. James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H. Says:

    Dr. J, good for them.

  4. James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H. Says:

    Cathy,
    It makes me mad when my peers are not responsible.

  5. Miz Liz Says:

    It’s certainly a moral dilemma. I think that physicians have an obligation to reserve judgment AND make decisions in the best interest of their patients. In this particular case, boundaries were overstepped by all interested parties. I believe that the fertility clinic erred in the procedure and agree that an investigation is warranted. But I also feel as though the State should visit the home and determine whether or not the infants as well as her other children are getting the best care. It’s a sad, lose-lose situation for all.

    Miz Lizs last blog post..Wednesday Bubble: What about us?

  6. James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H. Says:

    Miz Liz:

    It is lose-lose. You are right. Now we can hope only the best for the children and mother.

  7. ocbody.com doc Says:

    This is simple: If the patient is receiving (or is expected to need) a dime of public support (e.g. welfare,) then the answer is “No.” A fertility patient should be required to be financially, physically and emotionally able to care for the children produced by fertility treatments or there should be no such treatments.

    If the patient already has a number of children, do we not consider the welfare of the children she already has? Who can properly care for 14 children without public support?

    ocbody.com docs last blog post..Links & Comments

  8. James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H. Says:

    Thanks ocbody,

    It would seem a fairly simple decision, but how do you police it? Make it against the law? If so, I’ll bet it would be challenged by the ACLU.

  9. ocbody.com doc Says:

    The American people need to take our country back from groups like the ACLU and other groups that weaken it. Logic should not be subject to lawsuit. To me this is common sense.

    ocbody.com docs last blog post..Tom Cruise Visits Plastic Surgeon

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