February 6, 2009 11:54 AM

Octuplet mom Nadya Suleman, IVF - your thoughts, please

Why does Matt say "Congratulations" to Ann Curry? For scoring the interview?

She wanted a big family because she was raised an only child in a dysfunctional family - and yet she still lives at home with her mom and dad and 6 children under 7?

She used a sperm donor - the same one - for all 14 children.

And now she will have 14 under 7. She claims she will be able to support her kids when she is finished with her schooling - yet plans to have time to hold them all and be with them in a way she blames other parents for not doing.

She sees herself as a victim because she is a single mother. She won a $165,000 settlement for a workers' comp claim. I'm wondering if she used part of the money for cosmetic surgery - those lips look like they've been redone.

Also wondering how sincere she is about having difficulty accepting help as she has already hired a publicist and is giving interviews a week after a C-section with 6 kids at home with her mom and dad (the dysfunctional ones) and 8 preemies in the hospital.

I think whoever did the IVF should have their license revoked. And don't get me started on why we should leave these matters to God rather than even plunging down the slippery slope of IVF.

Your thoughts?


Posted in Current Affairs | Permalink


There are just so many layers to this story.

First of all, she is just recently divorced (2008) yet all of her children were conceived with donor sperm. Since her ex-husband is not the biological father of these children, what role will he have in raising them? This is especially confusing when we look at the 8 youngest children who were born after the end of the marriage. Does this man have paternal rights and responsibilities? It just seems like a HUGE fiasco to me.

Then, of course, there's the bigger issue of how this happened. I've read reports that the woman had suffered several miscarriages and years of infertility before turning to IVF. I've also read that in all of her previous IVF cycles they've implanted 6 embryos. The recommendation is 2 for women under 35. Why was her doctor putting everyone at increased risk by going against protocol?

As for her workmans comp, I'm not too bothered by this because she had a table thrown at her while at work and really was injured. 165,000 over 6 years isn't really that much money/year if she really is unable to work due to disability. Of course, if she was using the money in an innapropriate manner, as is possible, it would be a much bigger issue.

I have a hard time completely condemning this woman because after she began IVF she has taken pro-life steps to ensure that her children are born and refused reduction. However, the fact remains that the IVF in itself poses moral quandries.

I think there are questions that need to be asked.

Posted by: lauren | February 6, 2009 1:16 PM

I thought it funny too that the dysfunctional parents are looking after her other 6 kids and that she lives with them. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you!
I personally believe that we shouldn't interfere with our fertility by means of IVF or fertility drugs. But I understand what drives people to do so. We'd all be much happier if we allowed God to do His will in our lives. Not that it's easy to do that...

Posted by: paula k | February 6, 2009 1:26 PM

I have no big issue with IVF in itself. The beautiful Gosselin 8 were conceived this way, and they are truly a miracle, well all kids are, but the problem I am having with this story is the attitude of "the world owes me because...." Because I incubated 8 babies in my womb and have no stable support system in place to take care of them?

These kinds of stories create a lot of dialoging between me and my heavenly father later on in the day when I ask him..."And WHY haven't you given ME a child yet?"

Posted by: Hannah | February 6, 2009 1:41 PM

IVF is a huge issue with me. Having gone through three years of infertility, I looked very seriously at this procedure because I wanted a baby. I wanted. That's what IVF is about. And when we sacrifice the good (or even th very life) of the children we are creating for our own wants that is clearly selfish. I am glad that she didn't kill any of her children, but she, the donor, and the doctor have shown enormous irresponsibility and selfishness in this situation.

Posted by: Shannon Miller | February 6, 2009 1:43 PM

Actually, the Gosselins used a drug called Clomid that makes you ovulate. Sometimes it causes your body to over do it and multiple eggs are released. Nadya Suleman purposely had many embryos implanted at one time which I see as being very different. The Gosselins had no control over how many babies where created whereas Suleman did. She said in her interview today that she used the same fertility specialist for all of her pregnancies which makes it that much more messed up. How any doctor could knowingly implant that many embryos in to a woman who already had 6 kids is beyond me.

Posted by: Stephanie | February 6, 2009 2:30 PM

Paula K wrote, "I personally believe that we shouldn't interfere with our fertility by means of IVF or fertility drugs. But I understand what drives people to do so. We'd all be much happier if we allowed God to do His will in our lives. Not that it's easy to do that..." I agree.

Posted by: Anne | February 6, 2009 2:45 PM

The easy answer is IVF is wrong...it goes against how God made us to work.

Now...I have struggled with secondary infertility myself, I know it is not easy. It is heart wrenching, yet as with any struggle I know I am growing closer to God.

For all those needing help with infertility the Pope Paul VI Institute or the FertilityCare and NaPro Technology people have helped many woman have children where even IVF has failed! They use completely natural methods, and actually help heal the woman/man....not just throw drugs at it.
Google their name, they are in Nebraska, but have trained physicians all over the country.

Posted by: carolyn | February 6, 2009 3:08 PM

The doctor who performed this woman's IVF procedure went against the general guidlines and protocols that have been established in that field. He acted irresponsibly by placing that many embryos in the womb knowing all of the complications that multiple births can cause for the mother and baby.
That being said, I personally feel that we cannot say that IVF is not God's will for our lives. I went through IVF and had 2 embryos placed which resulted in the birth of my beautiful son. I fully believe that God was with me and that only He allowed the creation of my child with medical assistance. Any human life is God given in my opinion.

Posted by: Angela H. | February 6, 2009 3:10 PM

The only "good" point that I see in this is that she spared their lives. I can understand why she wanted to implant the other embryos- so they wouldn't die- but I question making them in the first place. She seems to me to have acted out of very selfish motives...

Posted by: Soli Deo Gloria | February 6, 2009 3:51 PM

Infertility is certainly a very heavy cross. I know many who have suffered greatly from the inability to conceive. It is in our nature to try to escape the cross. It is natural to feel that any method we can use to achieve the conception of a child must be consistent with God's will - after all, the end result is an immortal soul destined for heaven. Most couples resorting to IVF desire to honor God by bringing forth a child they will love and cherish. But for those of us who are blessed to be Catholic, our faith has taken this issue out of the level of emotion, feelings and human logic. The Church rightly calls us to contemplate the meaning of being created male and female, the unitive and procreative purposes of the marital love and the right of the child of be the fruit of the conjugal love of his parents. We are to be obedient to God's plan for the dignity of the human person. Thus, IVF is "morally unacceptable ... [it] disassociate[s] the sexual act from the procreative act. The act which brings the child into existence is no longer an act by which two persons give themselves to one another, but one that "entrusts the life and identity of the embryo into the power of doctors and biologists and establishes the domination of technology over the origin and destiny of the human person. Such a relatioship of domination is in itself contrary to the dignity and equality that must be common to parents and children." CCC 2377. We, the human family, disregard this wisdom at our own peril. In 1968, the Church spoke out prophetically about the posionous fruit of articifical contraception and we are reaping that fruit now (breakdown of marriage and family, abortion, devaluing of women, demographic winter, etc). By disregarding the Church on this issue we have, however well intentioned, turned children into a commodity. The poisonous fruit of which is already apparent - as this case demonstrates.

Posted by: Anne | February 6, 2009 4:18 PM

I think Nadya and her children - and the father of those children and her mother with whom they live - need our prayers.

I think that she IS a victim - albeit a willing one - of a culture that disassociates marriage, sex and children, of a predatory fertility industry, of the kind of feminism that insists that we are owed 'it all', of an unwise doctor.

I also think that this topic is somewhat less charitably handled than I am used to on Mommylife (wondering aloud whether Nadya used worker's comp money for plastic surgery reminds me uncomfortably of some of the 'discussions' in the MSM about a certain vice presidential candidate) and I am a bit at a loss as to the purpose this discussion is intended to serve.

Posted by: Minna | February 6, 2009 4:38 PM

A lot of women using IVF in this area where I live. And, oh what difficult situations can arise from this. My neighbors who struggled with infertility for so long have a set of beautiful twins from this process. The difficult issue that arises for them is what to do with the rest of the embryos that are in the freezer? And this is one of the more straight forward cases of IVF where it is husband and wife genetically producing the embryo, no donors involved. Should they implant them all? What to do with the left overs? Release them for adoption? Another pregancy is not recommended for the mom because of her age, difficulties with her last pregancy. The courts are now seeing cases of problems of who has the say as to what to do with this embryos when there is a divorce, when surrogates are involved, etc.

I am shocked that a doctor would have implanted six embryos in someone. 4 is usually the limit. But then, they are her embryos. Does she have the right to insist that they are implanted rather than left in the freezer?

These doctors often play with things that remind me of the sorcerer's apprentice.

Posted by: Cath Young | February 6, 2009 5:28 PM

I agree with Minna, and I would add that if we are all truly pro-life, these children are here in this world and they need help, as does their mother. She doesn't need to be a "victim" of anything to be a recipient of much needed help. It doesn't matter if she was an idiot to do what she did, or whether her doctor was negligent - all that really matters is that 14 children are here among us and need all of us to show them Christ's love.

Posted by: Tari | February 6, 2009 7:35 PM

Thanks for saying so well what I was about to say myself.

Posted by: Marisa | February 6, 2009 8:30 PM

It's all so difficult to think through, and there are so many errors along the way... all of which are made possible by our fine, free, feminist country (which now, of course, would condemn the "choices" she's made).

IVF is not God's design... and it creates many, many lives that the parents (most of the time) don't actually intend to see in their own family. The Catholic church is the only one that's been consistent about this (admitted by this Protestant). Once you remove God's design from the equation, it opens people up to cloning, IVF, single emotionally/mentally insecure women having 14 babies, or worse. I don't think we've seen the worst of this.

But then, once the babies are created... they're alive. Individuals. Humans. Frozen in chambers across the country. And there are thousands and thousands of them (actually, maybe it's millions?). So they're there.

TO me, snowflake adoption would be preferable to this nightmare... nevertheless, once you head down this path, there's nothing you or I can say about it anyhow.

The thing that infuriates me is that this kind of nonsense is going to give the liberal elites more "ammo" towards population control, family size, etc. They'll NEVER think to peg it on IVF. It's all the problem of the "selfish" mom who wants more than her "normal" two. Ugh.

Posted by: Jess @ Making Home | February 7, 2009 12:26 AM

At this point we just need to remember that babies are ALWAYS a gift. Barbara, I'm a huge fan of Mommylife and surprised by the critical, gossip tone of this post. It's out of character for you. Thanks for bringing the video to my attention. I haven't been following it closely enough and didn't know she had given an interview.

Posted by: Jennie Lou | February 7, 2009 1:10 AM

This story is sad. I find NOTHING wrong with having 14 children. I find something very irresponsible with creating 6 (two embryos divided) additional lives in one womb at the same time when she had a marriage on the rocks, no means of support, and it went against all medical protocols appalling. I'm also tired of the media and all their talk about "selective reduction". To purposely implant 6 embryos when the risks to mother and child are so great is unconscionable and bioethically irresponsible. The doctor was well aware of the situation and should be investigated.
I believe IVF should be limited to married couples. And, yes, there are doctors who will harvest only 2 to 3 eggs if that is your desire. Then the question of what to do with the extra embryos is null and void.
After struggling with infertility, I have little patience with those who tell me I should have left it up to God's will and that interfering with my own fertility was wrong. I did not use IVF and conceived my two children (six miscarriages) naturally after fertility treatments failed, but used medications to stay pregnant. Should we not rescue someone from a burning building? Should we just believe it's God's will for them to be there?
Used responsibly, fertility treatments are a blessing. I'm reminded of the joke about the man on the roof, with flood waters rising all around him, who refuses repeated offers of rescue because he's "waiting on the Lord to save him", and ends up dying. In heaven, he asks God why He didn't help. God replies that he "sent two boats and a helicopter"! In my mind infertility treatments are like that.
It's like so many other things in life. Take the Internet, for example. You can Skype your family from far away, post sermon mp3's, connect with other believers, help people get an education. Or, you can scam people financially, spread rumors about others, and post porn.
If someone wanted to conceive 14 children through IVF, and do so over a period of years, in a stable marriage, with the means to support the children's basic needs...well, I'd be okay with that. This woman's use of IVF, knowing the financial situation she was in, is akin to "fertility treatment porn". And financially irresponsible to boot.

Posted by: Rebecca Fox | February 7, 2009 1:38 AM

Most of the IVF veterans I know and all of the IVF blogs I've read who have chosen to comment on this are equally distressed and frustrated. As the mother of two IVF babies myself (two singletons) I'm appalled at the Dr. who transferred (the RE does not "implant" embryos - the doctor transfers them into the uterus and then they may or may not implant) so many embryos and like many other IVF vets - though we are by no means a monolith and I am NOT speaking for the "community at large" - think he should have his license to perform this procedure pulled. The Dr. who did such as awful job of monitoring the Morrisons (the "Morrison Six" - a Clomid cycle not an IVF) should also be examined, in my opinion.

Here in Switzerland the ethical guidelines require, not suggest, transferring no more than two embryos during one attempt. There are other guidelines that are stricter than those in the US which prevent many of these problems but as a side effect lower success rates.

Posted by: swissmiss | February 7, 2009 1:54 AM

Sorry for sending off two comments - I want to clear up a misunderstanding about Clomid/fertility drug cycles. Stephanie above comments that the Gosselins had "no control" over the number of babies they conceived. That's not entirely true: Clomid cycles are - or should be, if the RE is being responsible - monitored with blood tests and trans-vaginal ultrasounds. The ultrasound allows the RE to count the number of mature follicles. Mistakes can be made, but it would be very had for a doctor to miss six mature follicles. (Likely more as not every egg released would necessarily be fertilized). In such a case the doctor should strongly urge the couple to skip the cycle (not go forward with an assisted semination and refrain from intercourse at home). My feeling is that many doctors understate the risks of HOMs with Clomid cycles and/or assume that their patients will consent to a selective reduction. A drug cycle is harder to control than IVF, but they are monitored and there is some control in the process.

Posted by: swissmiss | February 7, 2009 5:52 AM


A couple things to mull over:

If an arrogant basketball player (in every sense of the word) went on a baby-making spree and impregnated enough women to have 14 kids under 7, I doubt if anyone would assert that because we honor life and love babies that we could not/should not discuss the ethical/psychological/sociopathological issues involved. I see no reason to let this woman off the hook because she is a woman. She is not a victim, but obviously a very conflicted and confused person who is desperate for some sort of affirmation - public and otherwise.

When someone has 6 kids under 7 at home with the parents she claimed raised her dysfunctionally - plus 8 preemies in the hospital under a week old and post-C-section hires a publicist and goes on national TV to "explain" herself - making the outrageous claim that any criticism is based on her being a single mother - well, just like I say we need to look at what politicians do rather than what they say, I see an immature person who is craving the spotlight. And in our generous culture, obviously she will be rewarded handsomely with contracts, a house, and much other more modest people will struggle for. That's the point of the publicist.

Now, I am going to say something that will offend many of you. If you are offended, I hope you will read to the end to hear me out as this is not a condemnation of individuals, but an honest setting forth of a consistently pro-life philosophy.

In my book Reaching the Left from the Right, I traced a continuum of a turn from God's will to self will that began in 1930 during the Lambeth Conference, when the Anglican Church bowed to social pressure and allowed birth control in some circumstances. Was birth control used before then? Yes. But until that moment, the Body of Christ had been united in calling birth control wrong. Over the next few decades, other Protestant denominations embraced birth control until only the Catholic Church was left standing. Most people today probably do not know this, and so they see the Catholic Church as somehow out of the mainstream. Actually, the Catholic Church has just been consistent.

I was not a Catholic when I wrote this book (2005-2006) but I couldn't help but be filled with admiration for the Catholic Church, which I saw had a history of not bending to popular opinion but to following the Bible. Tripp and I had given up birth control in 1985 out of personal conviction - long before there was even a QuiverFull movement or we were exposed to Catholicism. So leaving family planning to God resonated with me as a follower of Christ.

This message was severely edited by my Protestant publishers - which I accepted as they were the ones paying for the book, after all. And I was in this weird place of being an evangelical Protestant who understood that only the Catholic Church was truly consistently pro-life. In fact, it was while speaking at a pro-life event in Maine in September 2007 that the words popped out of my mouth very unexpectedly that I would probably be converting to Catholicism soon. Since I'd been one to say you couldn't be a Catholic and a Christian, you can imagine my shock at hearing my own voice!!!

But back to the book. My basic premise was that the moment the Church - in the broadest sense of the term - ceased to be the conscience of the culture, we began a march from They Will Be Done to My Will Be Done.

This resulted in the relaxation of the moral code that knit our culture together. And while of course, there was never perfect adherence to the moral code before, any agreement that we had ideals to live up to began to unravel.

As a result, sin and self began to be glorified. Hugh Hefner and Playboy/Feminism/Homosexuality/and then the brave new world of IVF/cloning/genetic engineering. Picture a timeline from 1930 to now. All of these are events on that timeline. And every single one based on Not Thy Will, But Mine. The Have It Your Way philosophy.

I will tell you flat out that I think IVF is wrong and an affront to God. Just as I think Tripp and I having sex outside marriage and conceiving our first son was wrong and an affront to God. Just as I think abortion or homosexuality is wrong and an affront to God. All these things are outside God's plan for our lives.

The problem I see with those who've availed themselves of IVF is that they are asking for a blessing on something that is inherently wrong - and which unsurprisingly began a slippery slope which has led to all kinds of problems like designer babies, genetic selection, cloning, etc. It is like homosexuals asking for a blessing on their own personal choices which go against God's plan.

While I know that to a mother who has conceived via IVF this sounds harsh and as though the fruits of her choice were somehow condemned, please reflect on the fact that what I'm trying to reason through here is a consistent and coherent pro-life philosophy. I am also saying that my conceiving my first son out of wedlock is just as morally wrong as IVF. His conception was outside God's plan as much as that of an IVF child. Is he any less a person or any less loved by God? No. But I am not trying to justify my own sin by saying that what I did was acceptable.

You may continue to disagree - and some of you may be pretty mad at me for saying something so forthright.

But the more I learn and grow, the more I see the absolute importance of intellectual integrity and consistency. If you want to preach to others, you must be fearless at looking at yourself and asking the hard questions. You must drop defensiveness. When Jesus asked why we would try to remove a splinter from our brother's eye when we have a beam in our own, he wasn't telling us that we can't try to remove the splinter, but that we must do the more difficult work of removing the beam from our own first. This is the standard you should hold your spiritual teachers to as well as yourselves.

To my sisters who've used/experienced IVF, please know that I am not condemning you or your children. I hope that the analogies I've drawn here will help you understand that when someone takes a moral/ethical/spiritual position against IVF, they are not condemning you or your child personally - just as when someone condemns sex outside marriage, they are not condemning me or my first son personally.

The Bible is full of examples where God used flawed and sinful people and situations to achieve great good. Romans 8:28

The difference is that I am not asking anyone to change their moral code because of my personal actions. And I'm not reacting based on feelings, but on a consistent pro-life philosophy.

The challenge to Protestant Evangelicals is: are you really just anti-abortion as the media calls you, or are you really pro-life?

Posted by: barbara | February 7, 2009 9:02 AM

What I don't understand is how she is too disabled to work but well enough to give birth to 14 children over a seven year period? That seems pretty taxing physically, and must put a strain on her already injured back. Surely she can't be considered permanently disabled and there is some job that she could be doing - perhaps light office work.
If you want to accept money from the government, be prepared to sacrifice some of your free will. After all, that is the new administration's reasoning behind the salary caps on financial instutions.

Posted by: cynde | February 7, 2009 10:31 AM

"I see no reason to let this woman off the hook because she is a woman."

But Barbara, no one gets away with sin and how is it my job or yours to "let this woman off the hook" or not? Isn't that God's responsibility?

[ from Barbara: "letting someone off the hook" is a metaphor, Minna. You are jumping on that phrase to accuse me of something here that is not happening. We are certainly able to look at situations and try to glean lessons from them. The point here is that most of us would subject a man to a higher standard.]

Yes, IVF is always wrong. Always. Whether one baby is created or ten. Whether the parents are married or not. Whether the people involved even understand that what they are doing is wrong.

And yes, this needs to be said again and again and again because the truth gets so very lost in our culture.

All of Nadya's IVF procedures were wrong and plenty of people will suffer as a result of her choices because sin always leads to suffering. For a Catholic there's really nothing to discuss there.But all the rest of the speculation about her upbringing, motivations, financial choices and so on - and especially the labeling (arrogant, immature) is both irrelevent and uncharitable. Just as it would be in the case of a man who fathered 14 children out of wedlock. [Really? I think it is perfectly reasonable to learn from the mistakes of others. Isn't the Bible full of stories like this?]

This is a very sad situation. It calls for prayer and for speaking the truth with conviction and kindness. It also calls for scrupulous avoidance of cattiness and gossip.
[thanks Minna for rendering your judgment here. But maybe God was stirring some discussion that needed to take place. Be careful of feeling spiritually superior - we don't always know God's purposes in someone else's writing. Keep in mind that not everyone who reads here is Catholic.]

Posted by: Minna | February 7, 2009 11:17 AM

I don't feel spiritually superior and wasn't trying to guess at God's purposes in other people's writing. I like your writing and that's why I visit here!

You asked for our thoughts on the situation and those were mine. I'm sorry if they were unhelpful or derailed the conversation.

Posted by: Minna | February 7, 2009 12:16 PM

I agree with Barbara that IVF is wrong and here is why:

God designed marriage between a man and a woman in the book of Genesis. God told Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply. Adam knew his wife sexually and they conceived. In this book, in the first few chapters, God gives humanity the means and the vehicle for children to be conceived and born. Psalm 127:3 says, "The fruit of the womb is His (God's)reward!" His and only His! I think anything outside of God's natural design for a child to be born is selfish and unnatural!

If you look at the female human body you will understand God's design is clear and simple. Take a look at a female cat and her litter of kittens. Did God ever intend for a woman to bear a litter of her own at one single time? I think NOT! It is not only potentially harmful to the babies (weighing only one pound each), it is not the ideal situation for the mother. Take example of the woman's breasts. One of their purposes are to feed and sustain the new life that was created within her! I am no expert, but is it possible for a mother to nurse all 8 at one time and still remain healthy herself?

Look at all the women in the Bible who were barren and God "opened" up their wombs. I first think of Hannah. In the temple on her knees, she begged God for a son. God heard her prayer and she conceived Samuel.

Also, I believe adoption is a biblical solution for MARRIED COUPLES to raise children. The gentile people are adopted sons and daughters to the King! I have been adpoted by my heavenly father and He allows me to call him daddy by this title. If money is a concern, God will provide if it is His will!

Posted by: Katie | February 7, 2009 4:26 PM

I don't have a problem with the 14 children, or the IVF. I have a problem with her seeming complete distance from reality. Who bought all of those IVF treatments? I do have a problem with killing off frozen babies - it seems she had 6 done each time, so no reason to believe that she would actually end up with more than 2. I have a problem with her not being married - why did the husband leave? Was he paying for all this?

Still reality is that kids take up room. Kids must be clothed and fed. School takes a lot of time and energy - so do babies. Does she have any idea HOW MUCH time she has commited to having in a day?

There are way too many unanswered questions. And the liberal media is having a hey day with it.

I do have to respect her for not wanting to kill any of the embeeoys, but why not save them for later? Cost of the procedure - but then she has repeated it so many times. And I also repect her for keeping all the lives she started. Maybe she is hoping for her own TV show?

And what kind of doctor allows a woman to do the IVF this close together? It doesn't seem to be a healthy thing to do.

But I'll leave the judging up to God.

Posted by: Rachel | February 7, 2009 4:42 PM

I am a pro-life non-Catholic Christian. I believe that birth control and IVF are wrong. But I think that we do a disservice when we lump all birth control and all fertility treatments together.

The "birth control pill" can kill babies, and thus it is evil. I think it should be illegal, and I think that using it knowing it can kill a child is sinful. But I don't think condoms should be illegal. I would not use condoms. But I think it is irresponsible to make blanket statements that using condoms is always bad (not explicitly condemned in the bible--and many people think condoms were around then) but it is always okay to abstain from sex at fertile times to avoid pregnancy--which is condemned in the bible. The abstaining mentioned in Corinthians is about prayer, not about not having babies. (and the time not to embrace in Ecclesiastes is about infertile times--the Jewish regulations on ceremonial cleanliness for menstruation and seven days after). If a woman is in true danger from having children again, I don't think it is okay to judge her and her husband for using condoms, but not judge the couple using NFP to prevent pregnancy because their car won't fit a fourth car seat. But that's what I hear from Catholics--NFP is always okay and condoms are never okay. Let me reiterate: I do not now and never again will, unless my life is in real and serious danger, intend to use any birth control at all, "natural" or artificial. I think that either preventing through barrier methods--which puts a barrier in the marriage act and shows distrust in God and a lack of acceptance of the spouse's fertility--and abstaining during fertility--which shows a lack of trust in God, a lack of acceptance of the spouses' fertility, and deprives the couple of sex when it would be most pleasurable--are both unacceptable except in very serious circumstances. And to say that the choice which the Bible calls "defrauding each other" is better than the one on which the Bible is silent (but I agree is not good) does not seem right to me.

And I also see some people (not necessarily Catholics, and not Barbara) who are lumping all fertility treatments together. There are several types:

Some are obviously inappropriate because they involve a third party in the conception of the children--donor sperm or donor eggs, for example. Those I see as wrong.

I do not agree with IVF. I do think children should be conceived by sex. I also have a problem with the "leftover" embryos. Those who are saying that they are better because they only implanted two or three, though, are mistaken (unless they specifically only created that number). What about the others? Is it really better to have fewer embryos transferred at greater risk to the others? If the embryos are frozen their chances are drastically reduced--many die in the freezing or thawing process. And the longer they are frozen, the less chance they have. And we are talking about children here, let us not forget. (I am not saying this woman is in the right--if six were transferred each time, she likely has either frozen or discarded extras each time. And her decisions do show a lack of regard for her children pre-implantation.) And if some embryos are frozen, and you only intend to implant two, how many do you thaw? Four? Six? What if you thaw four, and they all survive thawing? If you do thaw only two, what if none survive? Then all of your other drugs that cycle have gone to waste.

I think that drugs to induce ovulation are a bit harder to classify. I didn't go that route and am not sure I should. But women are intended to ovulate. If a woman is not ovulating on her own, then taking a drug in order to ovulate is like taking a drug that helps you metabolize food or regulate your hormones. It is taking action to correct the way your body functions incorrectly.
Now, medical science is imperfect, and these drugs function imperfectly. So it may not always work exactly as intended, and the monitoring may go awry (the McCaugheys, I believe, were using a drug to induce ovulation and their doctor only saw two or three eggs, but they ended up with septuplets, none identical). These might be arguments against using drugs to stimulate ovulation. I also don't like the prospect of someone else telling a couple whether they should have sex. But I think a lot of people just consider fertility to be the broken state and infertility the "fixed" state. And that's just not true.

I have trouble believing that anyone who considers themselves a pro-life Christian has a problem with drugs that support an existing pregnancy, such as hormones to maintain an early pregnancy. That's not even a fertility drug, I would say. The possibility of such a situation is why I even sought any fertility treatment (not that trying to repair a broken body is wrong). That's not creating life, or even helping life be created--that's saving lives. I think the only people who think it is irresponsible to save a life this way must be people who think there are situations where it is irresponsible not to kill a child as well--not pro-life Christians. It might be considered a fertility drug medically, but it's not in the same class.

I do think this woman was irresponsible--but only in creating those children by artificial means without a husband, not by granting them refuge in her body or bringing them to birth. I think we should be careful in what we condemn, especially in the eyes of the world. Remember that the media that now seems to decry IVF is not decrying the children it destroys, discards, or otherwise kills. Remember that these reporters would decry anyone with six children having more or adopting more. Read the articles and see the disgust that the "experts" have for a woman who will not kill some of her children. These people are not in the same army as us, even if we currently see a little bit eye to eye about one part of this issue. Remember that their issue isn't her disregard for her children's lives, but their automatic dislike for anyone with large numbers of children. Remember that a married woman with six children who conceived by natural means and brought home higher-order multiples (obviously not eight, but four, five or six) would receive the same criticism for not sterilizing herself, and then not killing her children. There are a whole lot of people on this bandwagon that I do not want to sit next to.

Posted by: YCW | February 8, 2009 6:10 AM

I’m upset that this single and unemployed woman intentionally brought so many children into this overcrowded world. What makes me even angrier though is that for the past 10 years Nadya Suleman has been receiving disability payments (for a work related back injury in 1999) and though she’s been deemed “completely unable to work”, she’s felt well enough to undergo IVF treatments and have 14 children during this time. Her doctors even advised her earlier not to get pregnant since this could worsen her back condition. She told a workers’ compensation judge in 2001 that her condition was so disabling that she spent most of the day in bed and had been unable to care for her first child.

This woman Nadya Suleman possibly lied to the Disability Judge and physicians about her condition and then used her disability payments for IVF treatments. This makes me really angry.

Posted by: jillian | February 8, 2009 10:42 PM

I just hope that this individual situation does not cause the United States to head down a path like what China has chosen.

Posted by: Lisa | February 9, 2009 5:24 PM

What do you think? Should doctors who implant embryos in women who do not have the means to support children, be responsible for the child support? If a boyfriend impregnated a woman, he would be- so why not such a doctor?

Posted by: elle | February 9, 2009 6:19 PM

In response to swissmiss above, Jon & Kate Gosselin were told they had 3 mature follicles so they'd have triplets at most. Even with proper monitoring (like the Gosselins had) it's possible to miss follicles or underestimate the number of follicles that actually hold viable eggs. There's only so much control a doctor has over the Clomid/IUI process. Jon & Kate went in to their IUI procedure expecting 1 or 2 babies, 3 at most because that's what they were told by their doctor and they wound up with 6. I see them very differently than I see Nadya Suleman.

In IVF the doctor has much, much more control because he/she manually inserts a certain number of embryos in to the woman. I understand this woman's desire to use all of her embryos but I question her doctor's decision to create so many embryos in the first place.

I'm a Christian and I believe that fertility treatments are God's way of allowing the people who have fertility problems to have children. Just like with all of the wonderful advancements in medical science that we've been blessed with over the decades, He's the one that gave us the knowledge and ability to come up with those procedures in the first place. However, I believe those procedures can be abused as they obviously were in this case.

A woman who already has 6 children is not infertile (at least not any more). Her parents begged this doctor not to do any more IVF on her because they were at the end of their rope but he completely ignored their pleas. I feel very sad for the 14 children who have been born in to this chaos and I hope that they receive the support that they need in order to live happy lives.

Posted by: Stephanie | February 24, 2009 1:54 PM

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