Keeping Mum
Dita De Boni looks at the trials and tribulations of being a parent.

Birthing an ethical debate


It seems as though everyone State-side is in an uproar about Californian Nadya Suleman.

She's the 33-year old single mother who just gave birth to 8 babies, and had six already at home, one with autism. She doesn't work, and supposedly hasn't claimed for a benefit, but has twice, during her working history, filed for long-term worker's compensation.

At first, coverage of the woman's massive feat was celebratory.

Conservative or liberal, there always seem to be a very pro-natalist flavour to media coverage in the United States and everyone seemed to be in joyous awe about the eight babies breathing on their own and ostensibly healthy.

And then the facts started to emerge.

As someone has pointed out, if Nadya Suleman was married that would have probably been the end of the discussion. But instead, the fact she was a solo mum with so many previous kids - all of them donor inseminated - confounded people.

Her own mother - a poor put-upon grandmother of the highest order - questioned her daughter's motives, saying she wishes Nadya had become a preschool teacher instead.

Many wondered how fertility specialists would have considered Nadya a suitable candidate in whom to plant all those embryos (apparently the orginal number was four, all of which split to become twins).

Of course, as this article from CNN points out the fertility industry in the US is not behoven to judge whether a client is suitable or not. It operates somewhat like the plastic surgery industry, where money talks and a willing client will always find someone willing to do whatever they want, regardless of any other concerns.

One wonders whether our own fertility specialists are bound by any special consideration of the children they are helping create?

In any case, despite the scathing reports about her in almost every magazine and newspaper, and the web boards jammed with angry comments, Nadya Suleman is apparently now being deluged with movie and book offers.

She feels she might become a highly paid parenting expert and wants to talk to Oprah - for $2 million dollars.

She's hitting up businesses left right and centre for freebies, and most tellingly, she's hired a publicist.

It would pretty sad if she was to have her delusional fantasies realised and be hired as a parenting expert. Making them ain't the same as raising them, love!

Women who choose to endanger their babies by drinking or smoking or taking drugs while pregnant are often censored - should women who choose to go ahead with 3+ babies on board, knowing that it can possibly lead to long term (and expensive) ill-health for their children?

Should fertility experts have to judge whether their patients would make good parents or not? Would single women make the grade? Would gay couples, or those who smoke, or Buddhists?

It will be interesting to see if the ethical debate around Nadya Suleman's decision will have any bearing on fertility treatment at some point in the future.

On the web:


- Dita De Boni

Pictured above: Nadya Suleman, the woman who gave birth to octuplets last month, speaks with the NBC's Ann Curry. Photo / AP

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