Doubtless many remember when, about 11 months ago, Nadya Suleman gave birth to octuplets. I wrote about it a number of times as the story unfolded. Surely this was a case of ART gone wild–you may recall that Suleman ended up with 14 children under the age of 8.
I just wanted to flag this little tidbit for those who are still interested in the story. It appears that Michael Kamrava, the fertility doctor responsible for the Suleman’s pregnancies, including the one that lead to octuplets, is facing disciplinary proceedings.
The octuplets case spurred some discussion of regulation of ART. I think in the end only one piece of legislation was actually enacted. That was in Georgia and you can follow the development of the legislation starting here. It ended up with a law that, to my mind, hardly counts as a regulation of ART but rather promotes “embryo adoption.” I think it is fair to say that, in the US, ART remains a largely unregulated industry. (This is not the case in many other countries, including the UK and Canada.)
In that context, the possibility of discipline for a doctor like Kamrava is the closest thing to regulation we might have here. The article details various ways in which Kamrava is said to have deviated from professional standards. These include the number of embryos transferred, the creation of additional embryos when frozen embryos were still available and the failure to document Suleman’s social situation.
I do wonder what will come of the proceedings that have been instituted in CA. For the most part, the hue and cry over the octuplets case seems to have dissipated. The prospect that the specific doctor might actually be sanctioned will perhaps blunt efforts at more systematic regulation. Indeed, I would imagine the effort to sanction Kamrava is is driven in part by the ART industry itself, seeking to portray itself as capable of self-regulation or at most regulation via professional licensing.
As I think again about the prospects of regulation of ART, I still wonder about why it seems so easy to draw such a sharp line between the regulation of assisted conception (often seen to be reasonable if not necessary) and the regulation of unassisted conception (quickly discarded as totally impermissible, not simply impractical.) I’m sure I’ll come back to that question in time.
Finally, I suppose in some ways this story is the mirror image of the sperm donor who contributed to the birth of 400 children. There must be some point about gender difference to be made here, but I’ll leave that for another time.