By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog.
The biggest water-cooler story of the week is brewing over Nadya Suleman of Los Angeles, who gave birth to octuplets after already having a brood of six children between the ages of 2 and 7 at home. The story—aside from its sideshow appeal—is also stirring serious medical ethics debates. Should women using in vitro fertilization be implanted with eight embryos, especially when they already have six children at home, and the mother is unemployed?
If so, who should pay for the voluminous hospital and healthcare bills associated with not just the birth of these children but the medical expenses they will continue to accrue as early term, underweight infants? Such children almost invariably have heart, visual, growth, and all manner of medical issues not associated with full-term birth children, as they age.
In my humble opinion, clearly the taxpayer should not be set upon to kick in for Ms. Suleman's absolutely irresponsible if not ridiculous decision (described by her own mother as "obsessed" with having children and as someone who "overdid" it). Ms. Suleman lives in a lower-income community in Southern California in a house owned by her parents and, according to neighbors, barely has the resources to afford any children, much less 14 of them.
If we as a nation refuse to regulate the fertility industry, then let's penalize it where it hurts most—in the pocketbook. It is, after all, a multibillion-dollar industry that should be held accountable for profiting at the expense of situations such as these. Let these same doctors who implanted the embryos, or those who delivered them, pay for them from pre-birth until the age of 18. That would be one quick and painless (for the taxpayers) way to stop the insanity of mega-multiple births.