Birth of Octuplets Raises Questions

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The whole country is talking about the appalling case of the California unwed mother who had herself impregnated by in vitro fertilization (IVF) and delivered octuplets. This tragic case cries out for reflection and action.

We thank God that the children were born alive and that the mother did not take lethal advice, if it was offered, for what is deceptively called pregnancy reduction. This involves selective abortion of some children in multiple pregnancies.

Even as we welcome children in life, they should have more protections in law before they are conceived. First of all, these children have been deprived of a father's love, support and guidance. They have been gravely wronged. Wronged, too, are the six previous children this troubled young woman has borne. It is hard to imagine a more disadvantaged circumstance than 14 fatherless children being raised in a single household. These children have rights, too.

When I served in the Louisiana legislature, I sponsored and we passed laws to regulate the unsanitary and dangerous conditions that prevailed in too many abortion centers. The law has obviously failed in the area of fertility clinics. IVF centers in the United States are less regulated than veterinary clinics are. Many IVF profiteers are motivated by gain and blinded to ethics, despite the extraordinary power they exercise. They bring human lives into being. They freeze embryonic humans indefinitely for later implantation, but they also kill embryonic humans. In a real sense, they are human traffickers.

One thing should be clear from the Octo-Mom case: She has done nothing illegal. The United States is the Wild West when it comes to public policy regarding IVF. The clinics set up and abide by their own scant rules, and occasionally modify them when the courts intervene, as they inevitably will, in disputed cases. The California single mom in this case had eight children at once because at least that many were implanted. In Germany and Italy, for example, the law says that an IVF clinic can implant no more than three embryos at a time. As a result, these countries are not experiencing any octo-dilemmas or other issues, like what to do with leftover embryos.

Consider, as well, the financial cost of this tragedy. The medical bills are expected to approach $2 million. The mother is unemployed (other than in seeking and capitalizing on publicity). A number of her older children have disabilities. Some of the octuplets may suffer similar disabilities.

Americans have a right not to be taxed to support such appalling irresponsibility. Clearly, the mother herself cannot cover the cost. If not she, then who? For now, a surge of money from the tabloid media may help her, but in time (and with more cases) the camera lights will fade. …