Quick Update on Octuplet’s Case

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.

11 responses to “Quick Update on Octuplet’s Case

  1. Julie, hello, what do you mean “unassisted” – is that a ladylike way of saying two fertile people who know each other make a baby while sharing the same bed overnight?

  2. the “sharp line” is because assisted conception is by any old stranger and unassited is not.

  3. That is correct, but of what value is all that thought and planning when the available information is so limited and unverifiable?

  4. The important thing is the criteria for the selection. In assisted reproduction responsibility for the resulting offspring is often selected against. In unassisted reproduction it is usually selected for, and if the guy forgets about it, society will remind him about it. This makes a big difference from the point of view of the offspring.

  5. I disagree that unassisted reproduction is unregulated. It is strongly regulated. If the father runs away and doesn’t pay child support, his assets can be seized, his drivers licence can be taken from him, he can be put in jail and he can loose the right to run a business. You would think twice before creating a child through unassisted reproduction, unless you are serious about it.

    I believe that unassisted reproduction should be regulated in exactly the same way. It is a contradiction in terms to say that it is beautiful to create a child, but not to support it. I think that sperm donors should live up to their name and become donors, not merchants.

    We are soon going to celebrate, when President Obama signs the UN convention of the rights of the child. This convention doesn’t distinguish between children created by assisted or unassisted reproduction (the UN has confirmed this). Some European countries (like Germany) have changed their laws about donor children’s rights, because of it. It will be interesting to see what happens in the US.

    • Nomenclature is important. Using the word donor to describe someone, promotes the thought that the person is giving selflessly.
      But a sperm donor is as far from selfless as is possible to get. They sell their sperm and have no regard as to the fate of the children that will result. That is why the Catholic church has vigorously decried the description of men who supply their sperm for sale as donors, and instead refers to them as sperm vendors.

      It is after all an incredible insult to genuine bodily donors who altruistically and without payment, supply organs or blood to save people’s lives or to enable them to regain use of a lost faculty.

      So called ‘sperm donors’ actually donate nothing. They sell their sperm at high prices with the express intention of creating fatherless children to be denied of half their heritage. Such men are at best nothing more than sponsored masturbators, and in a real evaluation they are thoughtless, selfish, feckless men lacking a working moral compass and devoid of the normal compassion that a father has towards his children.

  6. “the child, by reason of his mental and physical immaturity, needs special legal safeguards and care BEFORE as well as after birth”

    UN Convention On The Rights Of The Child, paragraph nine of its preamble.

  7. Interesting. It was my understanding that an prior to birth, a fetus has no legal rights, in the US.

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