Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
This here's a religious establishment. Act respectable.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Things That Come In Eights: Nipples, Legs, Eyes and -- Babies?

Playing in the background: Wendy (formerly Walter) Carlos, "Switched-On Bach"
Meters swum today: None. I did, however, punch a great many holes in a great many sheets of paper.

Having eight babies at once is...

A. Ridiculous.
B. Irresponsible.
C. An obvious play to one woman's selfish ego with absolutely no concern for the offspring that result from this medical "miracle."
D. A clear breach of medical ethics.
E. None of my business.

Hate to disappoint everybody, but I'm going with "E".

I am of course talking about "Octo-Mom," the California woman who despite being the mother of six children under six decided to be implanted with multiple embryos in hopes of having "just one more." Instead she had, uh, eight. Hence the term. Yeah, it reminds me of that air freshener commercial with the octopus that's floating around her house and doing eight things at once with her eight arms and - okay, I thought it was a little creepy, too, but I dig cephalopods. They're awesome. Did you know an octopus can crawl out of its tank, make its way down the aquarium stand and across the dry floor to another tank where something it wants to eat is hanging out, nab one of those suckers (a lobster in this case), and then carry the leftovers all the way back to the first tank and bury them (so as to avoid being caught)? I'm not making this up. I saw a special about octopi on "Nova" and--

Oh. Yeah, I guess I am off topic. Okay, back to the octuplets. As a mom of none myself, it's hard to imagine having even one baby, but eight - dear God, there's already almost seven billion people on this planet. Why in hell would this woman want eight at once? Where did she get a doctor to go along with this? (Probably the same place Michael Jackson got his plastic surgeon.) There oughta be a law. In fact, I'll write one right now. No multiple pregnancies over the number of six. No, five. No, better yet, four. Screw it; we'll just ban fertility drugs, in vitro treatments, and pretty much any other way of having babies besides the way Grandma did. Any doctor who does this stuff should lose his or her license. Or go to jail. No, both. Plus have to work in a Romanian orphanage for a year.

See the problem? See why I went with "E"? You start down this road, where you gonna stop? The government that tells you you can't have eight babies can also tell you you must have eight babies. (Nicolai Ceausescu did. When he was finally killed, Westerners were horrified to find a hundred thousand homeless orphans and just as many crammed into decrepit orphanages.) Besides, if we ban this stuff, people who really want their ridiculous multiple pregnancies will just go offshore.

Look, I don't think pregnancy is always a logical, well-thought-out decision. There's a lot wrong with "assisted reproduction," the biggest thing (to me) being that there's already so many kids in the world that need homes (see above re: Romanian orphans.) I also don't think it's the sort of thing we better start regulating. I dunno about you, but I'd not be very happy if the police started knocking on my door and asking me if I'd ovulated lately and was my last doctor's visit really about menstrual cramps. That's nobody else's business.

But what about the costs? What about taxpayers paying for all this medical care? What about this nutty lady setting up her own personal web site, for God's sake, soliciting donations through PayPal? What's going to happen to the eight kids, to say nothing of the six she already had?

All good points. And I wish I had an answer. But I still think we better leave it alone. My friend and bioethicist Viki Kind said it best: "In America you have the right to make a wrong decision about your health care." Yea verily, even your kids'.


Junkill said...

Thank you for a sensible perspective on this. People are utterly freaking out about this...and, I just can't see how it's any of my business.

BTW: I was a little bit disappointed when I first heard about the Octo Mom...and I had this HP Lovecraft image in my mind...only to find the truth was much more boring.

Jen said...


Yeah, Octo Mom has a whole different spin on it now and I gotta say I like the Lovecraft version better myself. Though I'm not sure Lovecraft could have written anything better - if the rumors are to be believed, Octo-Mom had her lips done to look more like Angelina Jolie, whom she also stalked for a year...