Debra J. Saunders

This is not going to be a column that dumps on the misguided and clearly troubled Nadya Suleman -- the 33-year-old unemployed single Whittier mother of six who gave birth to octuplets last month. Of course, a single mother of six has absolutely no business having more children.

But the real issue here is that we live in a country with so few regulations on the human fertility business that clinics can engage in practices that can lead to premature births -- producing low-birth-weight babies doomed to chronic illnesses and even infant mortality. The outrage isn't that Suleman is unemployed. (She would have had to quit her job anyway to care for her children.) The outrage is that the medical profession enabled her to give birth to eight premature babies, who each weighed between 1.5 and 3.3 pounds, which can be very hazardous to their development.

Doctors' understandable desire to help infertile couples conceive children has led to medical advances that are not necessarily healthy for children. The new order is great for adults, who now can have children without a partner and in defiance of age limits, but it is not necessarily in the best interests of the children they bear. We have created a society that dictates that all reproductive wishes should be answered. Then we criticize an over-her-head mom -- whose own mother fretted that she was "obsessed" with having kids -- when the inevitable horrors happen.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Suleman's mother, Angela, says that the other six children were in vitro babies from the same sperm donor; two are twins, one child is autistic. The octuplets, Suleman's mother said, were the result of her daughter's wish to try for "just one more girl." (She got six more boys and two more girls.)

You can say her fertility doctors -- whoever they are -- should have refused to impregnate an overburdened single mother. They should have. However, in August, the California Supreme Court ruled unanimously that a San Diego fertility clinic had no right to refuse to inseminate a lesbian in a partnership on religious grounds. What happens if doctors refuse a single mom, who can sue based on state law banning discrimination based on marital status?


Debra J. Saunders


 
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