We note with approval that the Medical Board of California has announced it is investigating whether a fertility clinic that helped a woman give birth to octuplets last month committed any violation of state regulations.
Most people by now are familiar with the story of Nadya Suleman, the single, unemployed mother who gave birth to eight premature babies last month, and has six older children at home.
Far be it from us to declare how many children an individual should have, even if 14 strikes us as excessive. Nor do we want a government entity such as the California Medical Board setting family-size limits for people. Down that road lies Orwellian government control such as the world is already witnessing with China’s family planning laws.
But that’s not the issue here. The question is what the fertility clinic and doctors did.
Suleman has said all six of her older children were conceived through in vitro fertilization with the aid of the same doctor. And, she said, she persuaded the doctor to implant six embryos in her this last time (two are believed to have split, leading to eight babies).
However, U.S. guidelines for fertility clinics call for no more than two embryos to be implanted in women under 35 unless there are extraordinary circumstances.
She also told NBC News she wanted lots of children to compensate for an isolated childhood. But having children — any amount of children — shouldn’t be viewed as psychotherapy. It demands hard work, lots of love and serious responsibility on the part of the parents.
Also, while Suleman said she has never been on welfare, documents obtained by the Associated Press showed she collected $165,000 in disability payments over the past six years from a work-related injury she suffered in 1999. Did the injury inhibit her ability to care for large numbers of children?
All of these issues point to questions the fertility clinic should have been asking before granting Suleman’s request for a multi-embryo implant. The state medical board is right to investigate.