I suspect most people recall the events that lead to Nadya Suleman being renamed “Octomom.” I commented on the story a few times here. She ended up with fourteen children under the age of eight, the last eight being born as the result of IVF in which the doctor transferred 12 embryos.
Now comes the news that the doctor–Michael Kamrava–will lose his license July 1. The Suleman case was not the only problem for Dr. Kamrava, though no details of the two other cases are disclosed.
Perhaps we can agree that something went wrong in the treatment of Ms. Suleman, even if we cannot agree on exactly what was wrong. It’s interesting to note that Dr. Kamrava’s defense was that he was simply doing what his patient’s wanted. Maybe this was a moment he should have interposed professional judgment instead of bowing to his patient’s wishes. Seems so to me and, I guess, the California medical board.
And this makes me realize that I haven’t heard a word about the octuplets in some time. Probably just as well.
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.) Continue reading
I’ve been thinking a little more about yesterday’s post and some comments on the blog and on Facebook (though not all on this post). In particular, I’ve been thinking about a different way to approach questions about regulation of access to ART in particular and parenthood more generally.
Let me start from a different point. Generally we seem to be comfortable with the idea of regulating adoption. I don’t mean to suggest that we all agree on what exact regulations should be in place. Indeed, the eligibility of single people and unmarried couples (including lesbian and gay couples) to adopt is very much in contention just now. What I mean is, there seems to be broad agreement that there should be some regulation of who can adopt. There’s not a large contingent out there arguing that we should do away with all home-studies and let any person who steps forward become an adoptive parent. Continue reading
I gather from recent news stories that the disupte over the custody of Michael Jackson’s children has been resolved. Debbie Rowe, mother of the two older children, will not contest the efforts of Katherine Jackson, who is Michael Jackson’s mother, to secure custody of all three children. (As I wrote before, it is not clear to me who, if anyone, is a parent of the youngest child.)
It’s worth noting that while the parties have reached an agreement, it is still the role of a judge to assess the appropriateness of the agreed upon solution. This is because the state has an independent interest in the well-being of children. They are not simply property, which can be apportioned as private parties see fit.
To me the most noteworthy feature of the agreement is that Katherine Jackson is 79 while the children are 12, 11 and 7. Of cousre, given the financial circumstances of the Jackson family, much of the physical labor or child-rearing could readily be farmed out to others. But still, the grandmother’s age gives me pause. Continue reading
I’ve got a three little notes to myself I’ve been meaning to cover here. I think I’ll just lump them together, though they are not necessarily related. Just things that might be of interest.
–There’s a new book out called Bad Mother by Ayelet Waldman. I have not read the book yet (though I hope t0) but Terry Gross did a very thought-provoking interview with Waldman on Fresh Air. It’s that interview I want to recommend. There’s a discussion of abortion, in part about the language of abortion and generational shift, that I’m still mulling over. If you go and look soon you can still download the podcast, I think.
–Also from the radio, but on a different note, this past Saturday Weekend Edition had a little Mother’s Day essay by Alice Furlaud. She includes discussion of the rescue of three stranded dolphins in Wellfleet, Continue reading
For some time now I’ve been following legislation in Georgia. You can read through the older posts by following that link. This all seemed to begin with the octuplets born in California. (I’ve written quite a bit about that circus. You could use the tag “octuplets” or start here and poke around a bit.) The uproar around the octuplets (who you may recall were conceived via ART) lead to calls for regulation of ART. At the time I wrote that this rush to regulation worried me and might go off in all sorts of unexpected (and to my mind undesirable) directions.
The Georgia legislation is actually a pretty good example of how the legislative process, once set in motion by public concern over one particular topic, can develop a life of its own. Or perhaps more accurately, can serve as a vehicle for other interests.
I won’t retrace the whole history here–it’s there in the past posts on Georgia’s legislation. But this is the end of the story, at least for this year. The Georgia legislature has enacted a bill--HB388--that ostensibly provides for the adoption of embryos. (It’s called the Option for Adoption Act.) If you do not want to read the actual bill, you can read news coverage here. Continue reading
Last week it was SurroGenesis. Now there’s a story in the LA Times about a second surrogacy agency (B Coming) that may have defrauded its clients and its surrogates.
I have no particular view on the truth of what’s asserted here. But it seems to me that there are likely to be increasing calls for the regulation of surrogacy. This might be especially likely in California, given the octuplets and now two surrogacy agencies in the center of controversies.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with regulation per se. Requiring proper escrow accounts and such like would be enormously helpful. But various interests may use the sudden interest in regulation to advance efforts in restricting access to ART. Witness what’s been going on in Georgia. I guess what that ultimately means is that it’s worth keeping an eye on this.
I’ve been following some legislation in Georgia recently. It’s gone through a number of revisions. You can read about them in the earlier posts. Interestingly, you can trace the origins of this legislation back to the furor over the octuplets. The unease about the octuplets seems to have provided a vehicle for groups more generally concerned about ART.
The new version of the bill, one passed by the Georgia state senate, is described here. Provision limiting sale of sperm and eggs are gone, as are restrictions on the number of embryos that can be implanted transferred and who can utilized ART. The bill now provides that embryos can only be created for the treatment of human infertility. The question of what qualifies as “infertility”–an important question when you consider people who wish to parent singly as well as same-sex couples, is left rather fuzzy.
Apparently there is also a separate bill, passed out of the Georgia House of Representatives, that promotes embryo adoption. This is the first I’ve heard of this second bill, but you can find some discussion of embryo adoption here.
I digress from my discussion in progress to comment on this item from today’s news. This is indeed surrogacy gone bad but not, I suspect, in the manner that most people think about.
It appears that SurroGenesis, a for-profit web-promoted, globally marketed surrogacy agency, has taken the money and run. (I’m astonished to find that the website it still up and running. I imagine it won’t be for long.) SurroGenesis is one of a number (does anyone have any idea how many?) of for-profit surrogacy agencies that essentially act as a brokers and facilitators. They locate surrogates and intended parents, as well as egg donors. They connect them up with each other and, at least ostensibly, deal with a host of details. Perhaps most important for the moment, they hold the money that is to be paid the surrogate.
Except, of course, in this case they didn’t hold the money. They took it. Perhaps as much as two million dollars all told. For some couples this means they’ve paid SurroGenesis and lost their money. That’s bad, of course, but there are a small number of people who find themselves in a much worse position. In at least two instances recounted in the paper, there are women who are pregnant as surrogates, expecting to be paid and to deliver the children (in both senses of the words) to the intended parents in the not-too-distant future. But now the money that made these transactions work is gone. The intended parents have paid it, but the surrogates have not (and likely never will) receive it. Continue reading
This is a continuation of the thread from yesterday’s post, which in turn suggests you read a couple of other things. So you might want to go back to that first. But it’s also a larger point that ties back to discussions of what I called “commercial surrogacy” for a while.
I just want to offer a quick note here that ties into a lot of other things as well. I’ve talked about sale of sperm and embryos, about commercial surrogacy, about how the expense of ART serves to restrict access to it. All of these topics are, in part, about the operation of the free market.
So, for example, sperm is freely sold in the US (though this can be controversial). That’s so even though some things cannot be sold--say, kids? And as you know if you’ve been reading here, there are other things I have misgivings about buying/selling. (There’s a lot back there about surrogacy that has to do with commodification.)
Despite various problems with access and some tough moral/ethical/cultural tough lines to draw, I suspect that the free market approach to ART has made it more widely available. (Not always a good thing–see Nadya Suleman and the octuplets.) So, for example, restrictive rules that bar delivery of services to single women or to lesbians and gay men might be rejected by providers because they limit the market for their services. Continue reading