At What Cost?


costsUpdated Friday a.m.

I’m troubled. Sickened, actually. When did drugs/treatment intended for infertility become recreational options for people with children? This story gets weirder by the minute.

You’ll find a great discussion taking place in the comments section…

* * * * *

Down south in Los Angeles, a team of doctors were involved in the headline grabbing delivery of eight babies – octuplets. At last count there were nearly 3,500 octuplets stories searchable online.  Information is sketchy. We don’t know what type of fertility treatment may have been involved — if any, but it’s pretty hard to imagine there wasn’t some clinical involvement.

We who have had to confront the complex decisions associated with treating infertility each have our own comfort zones and end points. There is no “one size fits all” to treatment.  That’s because we all have differing emotional, physical, financial and, for some, religious forces or pressures guiding our actions, dictating how far we’re willing to go in pursuit of creating a family.

The costs involved are enormous — and they’re not just financial.  Among the many questions we wrestled with: What’s the cost to our relationship? The cost to my health and well being? To the health and well being of any children conceived? It’s one thing to make decisions involving your own life, it’s quite another when your decisions involve other lives — and other people’s resources.

Despite my sometimes irrational, primal longing to conceive and the effects of powerful hormones, the gravity of the many fertility treatment implications were not lost on me.

See also  So Not Cool!

In this latest case, there are significant costs to consider, not the least of which is the developmental impact on the newborns. Given the visibility or notoriety  (take your pick) of this eye-popping delivery there’s also a cost to society.  You gotta wonder who is picking up the tab? Just what is the price tag associated with the army of doctors involved across three delivery rooms and the acute care that will be required in these all important early days — provided by, yes, another army of healthcare professionals. Who bears those costs? Given that most fertility treatment and care is out of pocket, I know a number of people who would like to have had their bill paid, but didn’t have (or see) that as an option and altered plans accordingly.

Finally, it’s not like the perceptions that exist around people who pursue fertility treatment  weren’t seriously jaded already. Sigh. This latest episode will make it that much harder to de-freakify the infertility topic. In many ways, this case has set the infertility world back 30 years by focusing the world’s attention on what amounts to a birthing circus act.  This is not infertility treatment circa 1978. It’s 2009. There are ultrasound machines and more than enough ways to determine the risk and potential for extreme multiple birth outcomes.

See also  Laughter is the Best Medicine, Part Deux

I worry not only for the eight babies (and the rumored six siblings they’ll join), I also worry for those in the infertile community still  trying to navigate what are already treacherous waters. The stigma around treating infertility was hard enough before this story grabbed center stage.  I fear it will send infertile couples deeper into the woodwork for fear of being tarred with the same brush of what could arguably be called in this instance, irresponsibility.

I sure hope we don’t encourage or endorse this unusual outcome with sponsorships and more super-sized family reality shows.  The kids involved will have it tough enough without becoming an even bigger media spectacle.


51 Responses

  1. Kami

    January 29, 2009 9:14 pm

    You are far kinder than I am, PJ. I was disgusted by this news. So many RESPONSIBLE potential parents attempting to have a child / children RESPONSIBLY who will not be successful. To me, this is no different than seeing the meth addict have a baby. The meth addict doesn’t deserve it and neither does the couple featured in this article.

    Of course, if infertility only affected people who would be bad parents, this would never even be an issue.

  2. luna

    January 29, 2009 9:44 pm

    this is just so right on. you’ve managed to articulate what I could not even attempt. they way this irresponsible act serves to further “freakify” and stigmatize infertility/fertility treatment.

    as if 6 isn’t enough? or 7, or 8, etc… ugh.

  3. Adrienne

    January 29, 2009 10:07 pm

    I do not think I could have said this as nicely as you did . . . I guess the mom is probably planning on making a few bucks on this one with the interviews, maybe a book deal, not including all freebies she will receive. I feel sorry for the children

  4. OHN

    January 29, 2009 11:29 pm

    When I heard this story (and I didn’t know about the other 6!)I was surprised that people were wondering IF she had medical intervention getting pregnant. C’mon people.

    I cannot believe that the doctors went ahead with the procedure knowing how many eggs were there. Somebody needed to use a little common sense and obviously didn’t.

    I would like to check back in 3-4 years and see how well the kids are doing. I am betting that this family is going to have a very hard time.

    I think there has to be more of a story here than the public is being told.

  5. Anonymouse

    January 29, 2009 11:31 pm

    I seem to be in the minority from what I’ve read on various blogs on this topic, but to me, it looks like there is judgment as to the type of treatment although many admissions of no “one size fits all treatment” and it looks like because some crazy weird hybrid situation occurred, the infertile community is turning it’s back on one of it’s own.

    From what I can tell, a probable infertile achieved pregnancy (yea!) and then gave birth to live babies (yea!). Both good things.

    Where is the cutoff? How many babies is too many to be celebrated? 3? 4? 6?

    • Pamela Jeanne

      January 29, 2009 11:47 pm

      This is not your average, every day fertility treatment story. There’s lots of missing information (are there really six other siblings? were they infertile? are they independently wealthy and able to afford the birth of eight and raising of 14 children?)  There are no easy answers but lots of questions in this particular case. 

      • sherylhs

        January 30, 2009 1:38 pm

        I’m with you, PJ. Independently wealthy? Unless I’m reading the CBS story incorrectly, the mother lives with her parents in a neighborhood of 2 and 3-bedroom houses!! Irresponsible is an understatement.

    • Peeveme

      January 30, 2009 5:01 pm

      Anon, Since this woman already has 6 kids (4 singletons and a set of twins) I think I’m safe in assuming she’s not infertile. Which makes this story even more bizarre. Which make her actions even more irresponsible.

      • Anonymouse

        January 30, 2009 9:19 pm

        I concede that you all have very different opinions from me. I think the “safe in assuming” part is the first place we disagree. For better or worse, this lady’s been through a lot and has a long road ahead and I’m choosing to give her the benefit of the doubt.

        I think at the end of the day we all agree that we hope the best for these kids.

        • stepping up

          January 31, 2009 3:48 pm

          Yes, I hope the best for these kids, because the taxpayers don’t deserve to ‘pick up’ the medical tab.

  6. loribeth

    January 29, 2009 11:44 pm

    I didn’t hear about the six other kids. Yikes!!!

    I just cringe to think that non-IFers will assume that this is what happens when you use fertility treatments. 🙁 This generally does not happen with IVF because most REs only transfer a very few embryos… and any RE worth his/her salt would not have administered an IUI or would have warned a couple off sex if there were more than a few follicles developing.

    I read a really good book awhile back by Liza Mundy (who recently wrote a biography of Michelle Obama) called Everything Conceivable that covered the whole subject of multiples & selective reduction in some depth (as well as other aspects of the infertility industry).

  7. Michell

    January 29, 2009 11:53 pm

    This was very similar to my first and immediate thoughts upon hearing of the birth. My first thought was this is the kind of story or occurrence that gives infertility treatments a bad name. Because people (especially the ones who are so negative about IF or those who get all their news in the small sound bites they hear without further investigation) don’t see the couple or individual pursuing IF treatments that have a singleton. They see this. There are those who will think that this is what we are all trying for or that this is the usual outcome of IF treatments. It’s about pursing IF treatments responsibly. At some point in a cycle someone should be looking at a situation and saying if we continue this is what could occur and maybe we should stop. While I don’t know this person’s situation I would guess that there are quite a few of those who are against IF treatments anyways who are using this as further reason for why IF treatment is a bad thing and complaining about how it’s likely coming out of their pocket to help care for these babies.

  8. Sky

    January 30, 2009 12:20 am

    You were also MUCH kinder than I was. And I think the Anonymous comment you got was from my same Anonymous commenter.

    I don’t think this person understands the point, so let me spell it out in simpler terms.

    If a pregnant woman used recreational drugs during pregnancy but managed to have a healthy baby in spite of it, would you not still opine that she was needlessly reckless with the life and health of her baby?

    Trust that THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE to what octuplet mom did – NONE. She took an enormous, senseless, needless and selfish risk with the lives and health of 8 innocent children (who didn’t get a vote, I might add).

    How anyone can support that is baffling!

    Lastly, I am so incredibly proud of my IF sisters speaking out against it. I don’t want the public’s perception to be that we ladies who struggle with infertility are so desperate that we’re willing to have a child AT ANY COST. In fact, we are actually responsible, caring women who have made very difficult decisions – often to do what’s right, vs. what’s selfish.

    • Terissa

      January 31, 2009 4:32 am

      My sister-in-law once told me that because I didn’t want over three eggs implanted during in-vitro, I didn’t want a baby bad enough. Your last paragraph would have been a perfect response to her opinion. Your words are intelligent and well-thought out.

  9. Sassy

    January 30, 2009 12:40 am

    The only thing that’s in the papers over here about this is that they used infertility treatments and now there is controversy.

    Personally, I don’t really care what kind of treatment she had, but I think it was negligent of her health care providers to allow her to be in the position where it was possible 8 babies could be conceived. (And this makes me wonder if there were medical professionals involved at all or if she was a fertile who ‘borrowed’ a friends clomid.)

    But more than that, I find it completely wrong that there was no selective reduction in this case. I know many people couldn’t do it. But there are eight babies here! And if she already has six, doesn’t she owe it to her other children to protect her own health and the health of other future children?

    The whole thing feels dangerous and stupid to me. And I do feel bad for them. But they have had to realise that it was going to be a freak show. Just wait until they’re on Oprah and they’ll get everything they’ll ever need donated to them. I just hope that the babies survive and grow into healthy children.

  10. Dora

    January 30, 2009 12:40 am

    Spot on, Pamela. I have a feeling this was a canceled IUI, that the couple couldn’t afford to convert to IVF and went home and went at it.

  11. Patrice Infertility Warrior

    January 30, 2009 1:36 am

    If you read my blog post at Infertility Warrior about how stupid fertile people are – there is no doubt your wrote much more elequently and nicer that I did prompted by the octuplet news. The point we in the infertile community need to really acknowledge is how deep the ignorance is about infertility, even amongst well educated professionals and journalists who spread the word to others. There really needs to be some tv shows with infertility 101, because it’s scary out there! Hmmm, were fertility treatments involved? WHAT!?! Of course there were! On The View and CNN I heard the “suspicion” that IVF was involved – ugh probably not, because of the tight guidelines on how many embryos to transfer. Thank God for Sherri Shepherd (an IVFer) who amongst her clueless cohosts (to be fair Elizabeth knew a bit) she tried to explain why it was probably infertility drugs and how her preemie son’s stay in the NICU had cost insurance 1 million dollars. She went on to explain that IVF is not covered by insurance here as it is in many European countries. She was making the point that if IVF was covered by insurance high order multiples would be very rare. People use timed intercourse or IUIs with clomid/injectables, lots of follicles and voila! Though that magic never happened for me. Many IUIs have had me faced with more than 6 follicles, but because of my age and history the supervillain “Infertilio” still beat me. If these people do indeed have 6 kids already, then I just don’t know how to address that issue, freakin boggles my mind. Great post Pamela!!!

    • Tania

      February 2, 2009 11:25 am

      Some lights on one European country (Portugal): if you already have one (1!!) child, public health doesn’t pay any more fertility treatments (from any kind!!). The drugs needed for a single IVF cost more than 1000€ (that’s more than twice the minimum income), that’s my income as a superior public worker… and that drugs are not payed, you have to find the many for it… Even for me, I have to save a lot to afford only the drugs… so a couple with no job with 6 other children just can have stolen clomid… (about 7€ a box…)

  12. MLO

    January 30, 2009 5:41 am

    There has been some speculation that this woman may have been a self-medicater. Possibly with donor sperm. I have no idea whether this is true.

    As to the general public? Even supposed health professionals on several non-IVF sites are saying this was “probably IVF” and when corrected, they have gotten snippy. By corrected, I mean given the statistics from SART and the CDC of multiples from various types of fertility treatments.

    The truth is that fertility treatment of any kind has not been acknowledged or confirmed by the patient or her doctors. It is all speculation.

  13. myrtle

    January 30, 2009 6:14 am

    I think that we would all agree this is an extraordinary event. Earlier this week, NPR posted a very uncritical story on how many times to try called Sixth time may be the charm
    It really frustrated me that the journalist did not ask incisive questions and that the story seemed to suggest if you just keep at it you’ll succeed. To me, not posting statistics on failure rates or raising the cost issues, the emotional roller coaster of 6 tries is not doing thorough journalism.

    The stories about the octuplets also raise issues about poor journalism. We don’t know the mother’s story yet. Yes, 8 children is probably too many for anyone let alone someone who already has 6. But I would rather see our energies as people with intimate knowledge of the fertility industry to raise issues of accountability – like someone said here if the insurance companies covered IVF multiple births would be minimized.

  14. sherylhs

    January 30, 2009 1:48 pm

    I’m with you, PJ. Unless I’m reading the CBS story incorrectly, the mother lives with her parents in a neighborhood of 2 and 3-bedroom houses!! Irresponsible is an understatement.

  15. Sassy

    January 30, 2009 1:55 pm

    I just read this in our local paper, “The woman, who has not been publicly identified, had embryos implanted last year, and “they all happened to take”, her mother, Angela Suleman, said.”

    Assuming embryos implanting means embryo’s transferred, I’m even more shocked that a doctor would do that. Especially given that she has six (presumed biological) kids already.

  16. WiseGuy

    January 30, 2009 2:20 pm

    I am thankful that you have brought the other side of the ring view on this issue so lucidly. I did get to read about the 8ers but I did not pay much attention to them. However, what really stumped me as well was that how could these people have so many at one time and how did the woman not know. Is it possible that she did know that they were having eight and she took it as her one galactic chance to be a part of Reproductive Greats History? Maybe it became a chance for the family to make it a ego trip and that the doctors believed that they were accomplishing a solid medical feat, some kind of display of modern medical marvel. What if this dream got horribly askew? What if some of the babies would not have made it to the live birth, or the mother lost her life? Why?

    • Infertility Warrior

      January 30, 2009 8:18 pm

      I think Wiseguy is on to something, since she already had a 2 year old set of twins (chances are from infertility treatments.) Her motivations of super gestating to get attention after seeing how the Duggars and Goselins have tv shows. If you have noting else in your life to be proud of, then I can see it. The grandfather reportedly made a weird comment about how they have a huge house in the middle of nowhere and they might go there to get away from the spotlight. Fine with me you freaks.

  17. Renee

    January 30, 2009 3:12 pm

    i’m with dora. no way this was an IVF. but, then again, who pursues fertility treatments when they already have 6 kids?!!!?!?! baffling, really…

  18. WaterBishop

    January 30, 2009 4:05 pm

    I haven’t even read the story. Just hearing it was eight babies was enough for me. My first thought was how irresponsible her RE is. Then again, maybe he canceled an iui and the couple went ahead and had intercourse and caught a lot of eggs anyway.
    Either way, now people have more ammo about treatment to throw in our faces, even though with a responsible doctor this would have been canceled or converted to IVF negating the whole situation.

  19. Sky

    January 30, 2009 4:16 pm

    The scoop: This woman has 6 kids (under the age of 7) and lives with her parents in a 3 bedroom house. Frankly, I don’t care about that. That’s not my cup of tea and I think their futures may likely be sh*t if you consider what it costs to properly raise children but that’s her problem.

    My ONLY real disgust over this is EVER putting yourself into the position of gestating 8 embryos AT THE SAME TIME. That is unconscionable! I don’t believe for a second it was IVF and won’t believe it unless I hear her actual RE say so. If he does, they should take his license away, full stop!

    But worse of all is this woman’s GROSS RECKLESS BEHAVIOR. How could anyone who is morally/religiously against reduction have any more than 2/3 embryos implanted? How?!

    Anyone who won’t reduce MUST behave responsibly leave no potential for a high order multiple pregnancy to happen. That means, NO IUI and NO more than 3 embryos, at most.

    Otherwise, it’s playing Russian roulette with the lives and health of innocent children.

    I’m so disgusted and angry about this. Never mind how this only creates a sour taste for IVF in the minds of the general public.

    Cases like this will cause folks to vote out laws that mandate fertility coverage in select states and more red tape, time, cost and emotional drain will result in an already painful and difficult pursuit.

    Shame on octuplet mom!

  20. Dawn Zink

    January 30, 2009 6:34 pm

    I’m sorry if I offend anyone…

    These kinds of stories piss me off because I have had friends who have 3, 4, 5 or even 6 kids that decide they need to have another one. Well, they aren’t pregnant in three months so they go to the doctor and lie…yes lie about how long they have been trying…so that they are put on clomid or other drugs to achieve pregnancy. Plus, some these friends selfishly try to “time” getting pregnant, so that is also part of the lie. (I.E. I don’t want to be pregnant in the summer.) I don’t think that most people GET what real infertility is about or even think that very few people really achieve pregnancy in less than three months of trying. And I know that women do have secondary infertility, and for those that struggle, I really do feel for you. However, this woman already had six children. So, I really don’t understand what these doctors were thinking in her fertility treatment plan, especially implanting 8 embryos.

    My other pet peeve about this story is that it seems to confirm the myth that crazy infertile people are somehow majorly contributing to the “overpopulation” issue is really true. Way back in a biology class, I learned that from a scientific standpoint to really keep a handle on the population, every couple that decided to have children would be allowed to have 2 offspring, essentially replacing themselves. (Yes, we actually discussed this in a biology class.) While I don’t condone limiting the numbers of children that people have, these kinds of reproductive stories really twist the reality. People irresponsibly having children for selfish reasons contribute to the population problem, not infertile people trying to responsibly have one or two children to call their own.

    I guess my biggest issue with these kinds of stories is that they actually make it more difficult for infertile people who really need the treatment to even think about starting a family. Most would even take a tough summer pregnancy if it resulted in ONE happy, healthy baby in the end.

  21. Rachel

    January 30, 2009 7:00 pm

    Speaking as one of eight children… this ain’t gonna’ be no picnic for her brood. It’s simply not possible to give enough proper love, attention, caring and guidance to that many children. Even WITH grandparents. And from what we can tell, the father is not very present?

    Heaven help them all. And shame on such irresponsibility.

  22. Alex

    January 30, 2009 7:44 pm

    Pamela Jeanne,

    Thanks for posting so thoughtfully about this dreadful story. I have to admit the media coverage of this I have followed (admittedly limited, but selectively so in hopes of seeing actual … facts) has only really a few pieces information that are clearly accurate — a woman in SoCAL just gave birth to octuplets at 30w gestation, all of whom survived birth and one of whom wasn’t detected until birth. Given what I know about infertility treatments, I personally cannot believe these were IVF babies and won’t unless a reliable source reports same … ditto, even, for the 6 other kids — an “acquaintance” tells us about (per the article you linked to, and intending no offense).

    (My personal best guess is unmonitored Clomid or planned IUI canceled but followed by BMS. eight-BMS, as things turned out…).

    That said, the basic information we have (octuplets) is disturbing in terms of the well-being of the babies, and I completely agree with your points about what this story does for the general impression people have of infertility treatments. What a mess. Thanks for writing about it.

  23. Ellen K

    January 30, 2009 8:02 pm

    I wanted to blog about this today but the blood boiling in my fingertips prevented any kind of a rational commentary. Your words were much kinder than mine would have been.

    I am glad that the IF community is speaking out against this irresponsible use of reproductive medicine. (And the odds that this is a spontaneous conception are as close to zero as possible. It’s very likely IUI with injectables.)

    This woman may be technically infertile, but at some point both the medical and IF community need to say “Be ye grateful.” And I think six existing children is a MORE than generous cut-off point.

  24. Infertility Warrior

    January 30, 2009 8:22 pm

    You hit the nail on the head – obviously this ‘mother’ is not infertile. She is superfertile and you are absolutely spot on that whatever drugs she took were used recreationally! We may find out that she wasn’t under the care of an RE at all and just shot herself up (or took clomid) with no monitoring. Not only is this akin to child abuse, it is most certainly health insurance abuse. Who will be paying the bills for her extended hospital stay and the NICU?????? Is it out of pocket like my infertility treatments????????

  25. Dawn

    January 30, 2009 10:14 pm

    Sorry…my bad…I used the term “implanted” when maybe I should have said “transferred”. I just wanted to clear that up.

    Regardless whether IUI or IVF or clomid or other method was used, it still seems irresponsible to treat an obviously fertile woman for infertility.

    Thanks again Pamela for opening up the discussion!

  26. Deathstar

    January 31, 2009 3:12 am

    I just finished watching the news on this one. Mmmm, she went from 6 to 14 children in 9 months. Hey, if you want a bajillion kids, who am I to say you can’t. I couldn’t care less if she has 20. What I would like to know is who the hell is this RE/clinic that made this possible? I suppose we’ll find out in the coming days…..

  27. Bea

    January 31, 2009 12:48 pm

    I think a big finger needs to be pointed at a society which won’t fund fertility treatments as well. This kind of thing doesn’t seem to happen in properly-funded and regulated parts of the world.


  28. Tracey

    January 31, 2009 4:45 pm

    I have read so many articles the last couple of days on this situation. When they first declined to disclose whether these 8 babies were a result of infertility drugs/intervention I laughed. It is beyond probable that this happened WITHOUT meds or assistance. After reading later that she had 6 children at home I got even more angry. Why because clearly there is no IF anywhere in this womans medical history.

    Then I started to ponder my own journey. I BEGGED my doctor to transfer more than 3 embryos for my FET back in August. I was flat out DENIED. Fine I understand that maybe I am reaching and I am desperate to become a mother. I begged, cried and pleaded. The answer remained NO. When I think of the possibility that they transferred that many embryos I want to scream. WHY ON EARTH would they do that when she 6 children at home, the last of which are supposedly twins. Also, who is the Dr. that was okay with this? My belief is that these babies were a result of fertility drugs and not IVF. But it doesn’t matter.. why would they ok an IUI with someone who has proven fertility and that many follies waiting to pop??

    On top of all of this, I think this story totally puts IF treatments in a bad light. We just can’t seem to get ahead and when stories like this come out, all headway we may have made in the past couple of years is shot to hell.

  29. MLO

    January 31, 2009 4:50 pm

    The story just got more bizarre. Supposedly this pregnancy was resultant from an FET. Since when does a clinic thaw more than 2 or 3 for an FET?

    Also, the mother is saying she got paid for this? What the? Something is not right here. Something is actually very wrong.

    I think it is important for all of us in the infertility community to contact our government officials and tell them this woman is an aberration and an abomination and should not be considered representative of those seeking fertility treatments in any way whatsoever.

    • Pamela Jeanne

      January 31, 2009 7:07 pm

      Seriously. This sounds like child endangerment to me…how on earth can the children get the attention and care they’ll need given the latest details that are tumbling out? This is way beyond bizarre and troubling…

    • sherylhs

      January 31, 2009 7:15 pm

      Yes, I had just seen this. UNBELIEVABLE. And, who IS going to pay to raise these children?? Bankruptcy just last year? This is bizarre.

  30. irish girl

    February 1, 2009 12:47 pm

    I am so sad about all the press this story is getting. The general public judges infertility based on this sort of “exceptional” situation, not on those like you and me whose goal it was to have one healthy child with the aid of IVF. Setting my feelings aside regarding infertility awareness — these children are starting their lives with people judging their existence. Sad sad sad.

  31. OnMyMind247

    February 1, 2009 2:37 pm

    I really hate when stories like this get the attention of the media. I’ve heard various “incorrect” assumptions from people I am around since this story came out. Some know I have been through infertility treatments, and some don’t. People assume all doctors are irresponsible, women should have a limit on the number of kids they should have (ok, I personally think adding 8 more to 6 you already have is irresponsible, but it is no one’s right to decide how many is too many.) People have commented on how couples who are childless, should just accept it and remain childless. Stories like this give such negative publicity about IF, I cringe when I see what the latest media headline is. I lose faith that society as a whole will ever see the true faces and stories of infertility.

  32. myrtle

    February 1, 2009 7:14 pm

    I am going to guess that this individual participated in split cost IVF cycle – woman only pays partial amount and the rest of her eggs go to someone else for donor egg cycle. Many clinics advertise those options. That would explain the frozen embryos and she’s only 33.

    I agree with the two previous posters – I don’t want to get into questioning the fitness of this woman to be a parent as some of those issue are pretty obvious to all of us. The spotlight needs to be shined on the infertility industry, the insurance industry and the shortcomings of these technologies. In particular how the current state of affairs places the burden of emotional, physical and financial costs on individuals – such as ourselves who have suffered and countless ones will continue to suffer should things remain the same.

    The fact is that one child is too many for some people but we don’t regulate that. Although probably unfair to the grandparents and not something that most of us would do, these children do have a support network which will hopefully offer the nurturing needed beyond the mother. Many people grow up in single parent households and do fine whereas others grow up in excellent two parent households yet still manage to screw up. Who knows what will happen? IMO, any cost to society will be a drop in the bucket in comparison to all the combined cost to society of not addressing an issue that goes beyond this one case.

    ART technologies raise all kinds of ethical issues. This one is one of them but I am troubled by the focus on the individual woman’s motives and values and the doctors individual behavior. This is part of a larger sytemic issue in an industry that is probably right now being shaken by the economic crisis and therefore seeking “innovative” ways to weather the waves. It also shows that just because the ability to do something is there doesn’t mean you should do it! But who should regulate that decision? Who should tell a woman that she’s too old to have children at 40? Who should tell a woman that she should be happy to have one child rather than spend her energies trying to engineer another one into this world? It’s funny how in Canada, the government is paying for ART. In Europe, the cost of meds that go here for $4000 add up to the total cost of 1 IVF cycle. Maybe people will oppose a policy that funds ART because too many people like this woman might use them? I am not worried about that – there are always odd cases. This is one of them. Although no change in policy will affect my outcome now, I do hope that others don’t have to go through the agony I’ve been through when there are other ways. This is not medicine in the way we think about it – ART is a for profit industry so that any decisions are at their core a business decision for the doctors involved. Let’s not kid ourselves otherwise.

    • loribeth

      February 2, 2009 2:49 am

      “It’s funny how in Canada, the government is paying for ART.”

      ARTs are not government-funded anywhere in Canada — with the exception of Ontario, which will pay for a (very) limited number of IVF cycles if (& only if) both fallopian tubes are blocked. The provincial government in Quebec has proposed funding ARTs, & a panel is studying the question in Ontario right now, but (so far as I know) no legislation has been passed yet.

      • myrtle

        February 2, 2009 4:39 pm

        Thanks for fact checking. I’d like to see what the outcome of that discussion is in Canada. It has to be better than whatever is going on here in the States.
        BTW, there is no limit on how many embryos to transfer – just recommendations/guidelines. No one will be reprimanded if they transfer more than the guidelines recommend. The doctors who did this will 1) be reviewed by an ethics panel who will slap the wrist lightly 2) nothing will happen to him/her 3)will have boosted live birth rate statistics 🙁 for his business and will also make bank.
        What this will shine a light on, hopefully, is the way in which clinics manipulate their stats. However, I am not that hopeful that people will understand infertility or the complexity of the treatment, the decisions and the patient experience from this case. The media always focuses on the sensational. The failure rates of IVF are not sensational. And they would probably draw the same heated reactions that this case is drawing anyway. I have not heard of these cases in Illinois or Massachussets which are states that require insurance for IVF. Had I known this years ago, I would have moved there but somehow I thought that I would be successful with 1 or 2 tries, ha!
        And I do agree that multiples do pose a risk to the mother and to the kids but just like some of us cannot give up the idea/illusion of having our own biological child, maybe she could not give up the idea of having all eight? Are we crazy or is she?

    • Infertility Warrior

      February 8, 2009 3:36 am

      Thank you for pointing out that in the US infertility is a big PROFIT business. These doctors and clinics charge whatever they want, because they can. I have always been suspicious about how much the doctors really care about a successful pregnancy, especially on the first IVF. It seems to me they look at the first one as practice, because they know chances are the patient will come back to them for the second. Follow the $$$$$$$$$$$

  33. Dawn

    February 1, 2009 8:34 pm

    I really hate this story. I do think that it is irresponsible for a doctor to transfer eight embryos within one cycle back to a woman who has a track record of conceiving and who already has six children. If she truly was getting paid for IVF (as the story claims), why did it all have to happen within one cycle? Having multiples not only affects the health of the mother, but also increases the risk of birth defects and developmental disorders for the babies. Plus, how is it even feasible to expect a mother of six to give adequate attention to eight new babies, especially if there are any additional problems?

    What I hope is that this story is NOT seen as the normal protocol for many undergoing infertility treatment. I really hope that society as a whole doesn’t cast judgment on all infertility cases based on this one sensationalized story.

  34. V writes

    February 2, 2009 11:16 pm

    This story just makes me more angry by the second. The focus seems to be now on her being single and every nutter is taking pot shots at single mothers by choice or otherwise. First of all I think the media should stop reporting on high order multiple births as it just sensationalizes an occurrence that is inherently dangerous to all involved. There is so much of this story that doesn’t seem right. I think if you have six kids I question whether or not you are actually infertile. Thanks to this story, after people struggling with infertility now have what is an expensive and emotionally taxing road reduced to sound bites on how you are crazy, irresponsible and selfish for wanting children. I think this story boils down to ethics, regulation, funding and possibly the right of a doctor to use his or her professional judgment to say no.

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