Ethics and Responsibilities
Should Society Have a Responsibility Regarding the Octuplets?
By now of course everyone has heard the story of Nadya Suleman, the 33 year old Southern California woman who recently gave birth to the longest-living set of octuplets children in human history. The reporting of this story has been an interesting ride. Initially hailed as a “miracle,” upon further examination, however, the tide of kindness flowing towards Ms. Suleman has waned. Instead, there now exists a range of emotions on this subject that include shock, outrage, disbelief and resentment. The reason for this turn of sentiments is the discovery that Ms. Suleman already has six other children (all under 8 years of age) at home, and that this home is actually the 1550 square foot residence she shares with her mother and these children. Unemployed, unmarried and mother to fourteen children, all under the age of eight. And, were that not enough, these last eight were evidently the result of a conscious decision on Ms. Suleman’s part, it having been reported by ABC News that the children were conceived through IVF (In Vitro Fertilization).
Questions of morality and medical ethics also abound. In the United States, pursuant to the guidelines of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, doctors should not implant more than two or three embryos at a time in a woman under the age of 35. These are evidently only guidelines, however, and we are left to speculate on how this actually occurred. Ms. Suleman is remaining silent on this subject and has thus far failed to identify the doctor responsible for the fertilization. The public hue and cry includes queries of potential for intervention by the Department of Children and Family Services (which generally will only happen if someone lodges a complaint of suspected child abuse or neglect, which so far to this author’s knowledge hasn’t happened) to fears that this family will become a drain on the taxpayers due to a concern over Ms. Suleman’s ability (or lack thereof) to financially care for all these children and pay for the undoubtedly enormous medical bills associated with these births, estimated to be as much as $800,000.
If Ms Suleman was required to provide sufficient assets to satisfy her own needs, she would fail. The result would have a greater detrimental effect upon the community where she lives. Does the community have to then provide for their family’s daily requirements, and if so, then what effect does that have upon the emotional and psychological well being of these children. This issue is now at the heart of our country’s current financial predicament and will be a measuring stick in the upcoming national election. The prevailing political wind is blowing and the direction where we are heading is expressed by the events in Madison, Ws and in our State Legislature. Benefits are being trimmed and programs are being cut out of the budget. Where will this all lead is yet unknown, however these current events are all in reaction to those nationally televised stories, like Ms. Suleman.