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The Octuplets: Balancing the Rights of Parents and the Welfare of Children

The birth of octuplets in California on January 26 has focused global attention on ethical issues in human assisted reproduction. While many of the details are unknown, the mother, a 33-year-old woman who is divorced and unemployed and who already had six children, is said to have had in vitro fertilization. Tom Murray, president of The Hastings Center, explores many questions raised by this case in a commentary for and in an interview on NPR’s Talk of the Nation.

Why did her doctor, apparently, implant eight embryos when professional guidelines call for implanting no more than two in a woman of her age? Should there be more professional or legal limits on the practice fertility medicine? Should some women be denied fertility treatments out of concern for the welfare of their unborn children? Concern for the unborn children sounds well and good, but how can we prevent it from becoming an excuse to discriminate against certain would-be parents based on their marital status or sexual orientation, as happened last summer, also in California, when Guadalupe Benitez, a lesbian, sued two ob-gyns for refusing to perform an intra-uterine insemination.

Share your thoughts on these questions and the issues discussed here.

Published on: February 4, 2009
Published in: Human Reproduction

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