What began in late January as a feel-good story of a California medical team’s Herculean efforts to deliver octuplets after a 31-week pregnancy quickly morphed into a controversy over the medical ethics of fertility practices.
The octuplets’ mother, 33-year-old Nadya Suleman, said in an interview on NBC’s “Today” that her physician transferred six embryos and two split. Suleman is single, unemployed and has six other young children. All were conceived through in vitro fertilization at the same clinic, she said. For each pregnancy, her doctor transferred six embryos, Suleman said.
If that is true, the physician’s actions went well beyond American Society for Reproductive Medicine guidelines, society president R. Dale McClure, MD, said in a statement. The Medical Board of California is investigating, and the ASRM has offered to aid the inquiry. The AMA referred requests for comment to the ASRM.
“What was done is clearly irresponsible, clearly unethical, and it placed the life and health of the mother as well as the fetuses at great risk,” said Samuel H. Wood, MD, PhD, a La Jolla, Calif., reproductive endocrinologist. “It’s simply the wrong thing to do.”
The whole shebang.