I know I shouldn’t get sucked into this Springeresque freak show. And, probably if I were a good person, I’d just take a live-and-let-live attitude. But I’m more than a little curious and disturbed by this story about 33-year-old single mom Nadya Suleman, who just gave birth to octuplets and already has 6 kids at home between the ages of 2 and 7.
My first question is, of course: “What the hell?”
Here are some of the facts the media has been reporting:
- She’s been obsessed with having babies since she was a teenager and always wanted 12;
- She can’t conceive the regular way, so has had all 14 children through IVF;
- All the embryos were created with the same sperm donor who is simply a sperm donor, not otherwise involved with the family;
- She’s been divorced since 1998;
- Her ex-husband is not the father of any of the kids;
- She and her 6 kids live with her parents in a 3-bedroom home;
- Nadya Suleman holds a 2006 degree in child and adolescent development from California State University and was studying for a master’s degree in counseling;
- When asked by a close friend how she could afford all these IVF treatments with no job, while going to school, Nadya Suleman apparently said she “got paid for it;”
- She’s hired a PR firm to negotiate her book, movie, talk show, and other media deals;
Good Morning America’s Joann Killeen says of Nadya Suleman:
She’s smart, she’s bright, she’s articulate, she’s well-educated and she has a wonderful sense of humor.
She’s very joyful. Nadya is a very balanced and together woman.
She’s very, very happy and joyful for the miracle of life and the babies.
I question Joann Killeen’s judgment. (And PS: it’s not so much a “miracle of life” as a science experiment gone horribly, horribly wrong)
There have been a lot of ethical questions around this story.
- What kind of doctor keeps providing fertility treatments to a woman with 6 children? This is apparently unheard of among fertility physicians.
- Since she claims to be getting paid for having IVF and since this is an unheard of procedure under the circumstances, is there something odd going on with the doctor?
- What about the serious and often lethal complications that often afflict multiple birth children?
- The option was there early on to remove some of the embryos, but she refused. Should someone have stepped in and made that decision for her?
- What about the inevitable medical costs?
- What about the cost of raising these children? (Estimated cost of raising 14 kids is $2.5 million – just for the basics like food, clothes and getting them through 12 years of school). There are a lot of donations now, but they’ll dry up soon enough.
- What about their quality of life of all 14 of these kids, especially now that they’ve become circus sideshow attractions?
Is there anything “feel good” or positive that can be said about this story?