Update on the “Octomom” case

God, how I loathe that term, and will not be using it again, but it is the one people are familiar with.

Nadya Suleman’s fertility doctor has had his license revoked for a pattern of neglect and poor practice. Since I’ve talked about the case before, I feel like I ought to say something.

This is exactly what should have happened.

It has frustrated and even infuriated me that Suleman has been used to debate fertility science without the slightest awareness that not only is her situation rare on about seven different levels (no, there are not vast swaths of women in the US on public assistance getting IVF), but that it went against best and standard practices of fertility treatments. Apparently, the doctor transferred twelve embryos, which the article points out is six times the standard number for a woman Suleman’s age. Standard practices work specifically to avoid high order multiples.

I suppose you could ultimately have a philosophical argument over whether the patients involved (yes, there was more than one) should have been allowed to dictate their own treatment and demand the transfer of 7 or 12 embryos, but at least now, under current medical practices, doctors are expected to override (or at least refuse to carry out) what they consider to be medically unsound decisions. And as such, this is exactly what should have happened.

1. The body that has oversight over doctors stepped in and made a decision. They listened to government input (in this case, a judge), but ultimately made a decision based on their own expertise and practices. No new laws were made or oversights were created based on an exceedingly rare case. Rather, the oversights that already exist were applied.

2. The body made the decision based on medical criteria and professional standards of care, not on any sense of whether Suleman was a good parent or worthy of having children or should have been “allowed” to have more children than she already had.


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