Best of PunditMom 2009 — The “Octomom” and Why We Should Regulate Fertility Treatments

Mon, December 28, 2009


While the Punditfamily takes a little break this week, I thought I’d revisit a few posts I felt strongly about this year.  To start off, my thoughts on the “octomom” and how we view adoption vs. birth children.


I am weary of the Nadya Suleman coverage. The tiny octuplets. 14 kids altogether. Unemployed mom. Not to mention that whole sort of looking like Angelina Jolie thing.

But one aspect of this baby circus is worth talking about — the fertility industry. Yes — it’s an industry, both here and around the world. It’s a business to the tune of billions of dollars a year. The more fertility treatments that women have, the more money doctors make. It’s not really complicated.

Don’t get me wrong. We went down the fertility road when we were trying to have a family. I have no problem with anyone deciding that fertility treatments are appropriate for them.

While I was on the Clomid train, there were no questions about what kind of parents we’d make, or what our joint incomes were. No one stopped us at the door and demanded to take a peek for dust bunnies in our house or to check the expiration date on our kitchen fire extinguisher. There were no laws we had to comply with and no one wanted to know how much any baby that resulted from those treatments was going to cost.

All that changed when we stepped off the societally accepted way of making a family, the new-fashioned spin on the old-fashioned way, and decided to adopt.

Once we were on the road to adopting the baby who ultimately became PunditGirl, we were required to be fingerprinted by the state and federal governments to make sure we had no criminal background. Health and fire inspectors were mandated to come to our house to certify that we had a safe environment for any child who was to become ours. We had to submit several years worth of financial statements to prove that we could afford to care for a child. Many of our friends were called on to sign notarized statements that we would be good parents. And, just for good measure, Mr. PunditMom and I had to sit through several sessions with a therapist to talk about our family social histories, as well as our feelings on corporal punishment. Then, and only then, were we permitted to be considered as a potential adoptive family.

Oh, and the best part? We really enjoyed spending time with people who felt like they could ask us how much our baby would “cost” and those who kept urging me to keep trying one more treatment in the fertility arsenal so I could have a baby “of my own.” And, of course, there are also those who think I’m not even a mom since PunditGirl, as she used to say, wasn’t “borned” from me.

Many in the fertility industry contend that it would be too burdensome to have requirements surrounding fertility procedures, claiming that self-regulation is the way to go. Free markets, and all. Hmm, where have I heard that before?

I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing for there to be hoops to jump through before someone can adopt a child. But if there are scores of laws that address and regulate the adoption process, why is it any less important that there be some regulations when it comes to giving the go-ahead for people to have eight embryos implanted at one time? In one article, an ethicist reasoned that government is “loathe” to tell people who can and can’t be parents. Except that the government does it every day when it comes to adoption.

The regulation question isn’t about parenting. It’s about business. No one’s bottom line was enhanced by the fees we paid to the non-profit agency we chose. And it’s OK with me that the orphanage she lived in for a year, where a handful of caregivers manage 100 or more babies every day, might have used some of the money to buy modern washing machines so they didn’t have to wash all those baby clothes by hand.

But don’t tell me that the lack of regulation in the fertility industry is about the government wanting to stay out of decisions by those who want to become parents. The government had no problem poking its nose into just about everything in my life before I was allowed to become a mother. If that’s going to be the case, then I don’t see how it’s all that different for fertility businesses.

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6 Responses to “Best of PunditMom 2009 — The “Octomom” and Why We Should Regulate Fertility Treatments”

  1. Kevin Says:

    Stop! Stop!

    I’m tired of you leftists always trying to “regulate” everything you don’t agree with.

    Freedom means you have the freedom to be stupid and make bad decisions. We have to stop running to the government to save us from ourselves after every screw up. Before long, you find yourself enslaved.

    More regulation is not going to solve this problem, it’s going to create more problems and more loss of liberty.

  2. Chris Wysocki Says:

    So “reproductive freedom” should only apply to medical procedures which terminate pregnancy? It’s doubly interesting too that you classify fertility doctors as an “industry” where “the more fertility treatments that women have, the more money doctors make. It’s not really complicated.”

    And abortion isn’t an “industry?” All those “womyns health centers” are in it purely for the altruism? There isn’t money to be made in abortion? Truly the more abortions women have, the more money Planned Parenthood and their ilk make! That too is really not that complicated.

    Or is it?

  3. Corey Feldman Says:

    On the one hand, I do think Octomom is absurd. And I understand why there are extensive checks on adoption, as there should be. And I have even made flippant remarks about IQ test for parents. But I have a hard time thinking it is OK for the government to get involved in reproductive rights.

  4. Daisy Says:

    Octomom’s situation is indeed ridiculous. Did she ever reveal how she paid for the treatments while raising 6 children and not working? Responsible medical professionals need to take on these investigations themselves or they truly run the risk of regulation.

  5. Lawyer Mama Says:

    Hmmm, Chris, abortion is pretty regulated. It’s regulated far more heavily than any other legal medical procedure I know of. In some states more than others.

    PM, wonderfully thoughtful post. I don’t necessarily agree that making people prove they’re worthy of becoming parents is the way to go though. It’s sort of a slippery slope. Clearly Octomom is an extreme example of the “fertility treatment freak” woman, someone who clearly shouldn’t have been undergoing fertility treatments, but where do we draw the line? At a certain age? A certain income? A certain weight? A certain belief? Now, obviously I know that all of these things are considered when you’re adopting. But whether or not all of them *should* be considered is another discussion.

    I really think a good way to go is regulation of the doctors who perform fertility treatments, perhaps with nationalized or regulated standards. For instance, I know that IVF multiples are almost unheard of in the UK where doctors will only implant one embryo at a time. If only Octomom were British!


  1. [...] Ours… leaving in two weeks to adopt a fifth time, an experienced adoptive mom shares her fearsBest of Pundit Mom 2009: The “Octomom” and Why We Should Regulate Fertility Treatments — adoptive mom (China) Joanne Bamburger at PunditMom… a reposting of an adoptive [...]

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