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The ethical issue surrounding Octomom

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The ethical debate surrounding Nadya Suleman, a single mother to 14 children,  asks the question how  a woman, who is financially strapped, could possibly want to (intentionally) give birth to octuplets – when she already had six children to take care of, and was barely managing to do so. She was reportedly unemployed at the time she was impregnated via in-vitro fertilization (IVF), and was also dependent on social benefits. The California Medical Board even launched an investigation into the fertility expert responsible for impregnating Suleman with eight babies. Her previous six children were reportedly also conceived via IVF.

Suleman, who was already the mother of a seven-year-old, a six-year-old, a five-year-old, a three-year-old and two-year-old twins, had six frozen and fertilized embryos left from her previous treatments. She suggested her doctor implant her with all six, far more than with a usual IVF treatment, as she didn’t want the embryos to be disposed of. After the initial months of her pregnancy, doctors found five embryos, of which she was asked to make a selective reduction to decrease the number. She refused. She gave birth to Noah, Maliyah, Isaiah, Nariyah, Makai, Josiah, Jeremiah and Jonah on January 26, 2009.

In-vitro fertilization is a form of assisted reproductive technology that is used when other methods have failed. Essentially, an egg is fertilized with sperm outside of a woman’s womb (hence in vitro), and only then implanted. Suleman selected one man to fertilize her eggs, and says her bond with him grew tighter and tighter every year as she repeatedly got pregnant. Who this man is, though, she will not say.

The media frenzy surrounding her after the birth seemed to enrage some even more, leading them to believe Suleman was using her “celebrity status” to gain attention for herself, exposing her children to insane world of the media. Television hosts the world over did not shy away from brutal honesty, labelling her as irresponsible, media hungry and even crazy. The public outrage took a turn for the worse after the birth of the octuplets, with Suleman even receiving death threat. Companies who represented her even quit their post as representatives because they were receiving death threats as well.

In June 2009, two months after the babies were able to leave hospital, Suleman admitted in an interview that she “screwed up”. In an interview with Radar Online, she says: “I screwed myself. I screwed up my life and I screwed up my kid’s lives.”

“What the heck am I going to do? I have to put on this strong face, and I have to pretend like I don’t regret it,” she continued.

The fact that she is going to have her hands full until all children are grown up is something that needn’t even be mentioned – where some single parents struggle with two children, Suleman is responsible for raising 14.

Image taken from http://mavtv.com/wordpress/?p=3253 with thanks.

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