One Year After Octomom: From Magazine Covers to IVF Regulations

BlogHer Original Post

It has been a crazy year for Nadya Suleman and she has taken the rest of America on her wild ride after giving birth to octuplets. The year started with disbelief, with bloggers wondering why she would choose to carry eight babies at once, especially after it became clear that this wasn't an honest mistake but rather a planned decision to transfer more embryos than a human body should carry at once.

Octomom Nadya Suleman and her entourage of nannies caravan the octuplets and the twins to a park in Los Angeles

Ethicists and doctors alike returned to the idea of eSET or elective single embryo transfer, a protocol which is common in Europe. State governments began to propose stricter regulations in regards to fertility treatments and this, in turn, helped cement the idea for the general public that IVF is a dangerous medical procedure that requires harsh guidelines in order to protect the millions of people lining up to become impregnated with eight (or more!) babies. Georgia proposed Bill 169 and Missouri's Robert Schaaf "tabled a measure that would convert these guidelines into state law."

But consider this analogy: a man purposefully drives down the highway at 90 miles per hour, narrowly missing dozens of cars. In response, the state bans driving over 20 miles per hour. They do this without giving (1) options of other forms of transportation, (2) regard to the average distance between home and work for the people living in the area, or (3) the ways this rule will affect quality of life as it attempts to protect life.

Lawmakers should never hold the most outlandish case against those who utilize the same act responsibly. These proposed laws are perhaps the most damaging aspect of the Nadya Suleman fallout because instead of protecting people who need assistance to build their family, they are creating a deeper divide between the haves and have-nots, making it impossible for those of average means (especially beholders of bad luck) to have choices when building their family. Protocols such as eSET work in Europe because IVF is covered financially. America first needs to ensure that IVF and other fertility treatments are covered by insurance before we pass along the exorbitant cost of assisted family building and the reduced chance of success to the average American.

Nadya Suleman's documentary aired giving the general public a peek into life with six older children and octuplets. And Newsweek pointed out that if we don't like the incessant coverage, we have only ourselves to blame since "With our glorification of bizarre behavior, we dare the emotionally needy to shock and appall us. And then we slam them. But are we seeing her clearly, or just addicted to feeling superior?"

Recently, Dr. Michael Kamrava who performed the IVF procedure was accused of gross negligence by the Medical Board of California. And while it would be difficult to make a case for the need of transferring six embryos (though it can be done), this does fall into a grey area when examining whether the doctor upheld the Hippocratic Oath and first did no harm. Doctor need room to be able to practice medicine, a science that is tailored to each individual though commonalities ensure the ability to set loose protocols. I would never want my doctor to make a decision about my care simply because it's the rule if it's not in the best interest of my body. If a number of embryos transferred is going to be set, it needs to take into account the various grading systems and the results of prior transfers.

Which brings us to the octuplet's first birthday party and Nadya Suleman's infamous magazine cover (look ma, no plastic surgery!). Bitter and Bound covers what life is like with toddlers on the go. Stupid Celebrity Gossip makes no commentary on Suleman's bikini pictures, though United States of Motherhood calls bullshit: "She might as well claim to be Michael Jackson's long lost twin with her denials."

But perhaps the most interesting interview to date comes from BlogHer's Ovalina, who admits "Walking my own path is difficult enough without trying to figure out what’s best for others. What I do know is that some of the hatred displayed on the Internet especially in anonymous forums is disconcerting." This recent interview allows Nadya herself to reflect on the past year, especially the way she has been portrayed in the media and a second piece for Babble continues the discussion.

Where are you with the Nadya Suleman coverage? Were you interested in hearing how her first year went in recent articles or are you finished with hearing about her story?

Melissa writes Stirrup Queens and Lost and Found. Her book is Navigating the Land of If.

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