By Kathleen Gilbert
LOS ANGELES, February 3, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) - According to the grandmother of octuplets born in California last week, rather than allow her leftover frozen embryos to be destroyed, dissected in a laboratory, or frozen indefinitely, their mother chose to give them a chance at life by implanting them in her womb.
Little did she expect to give birth to eight relatively healthy babies, or to be deluged first by congratulations, then by scorn, as critics questioned her choice not to selectively abort as a single mother of reportedly little means.
Suleman, anonymous at the time, made headlines last Monday when she gave birth to the longest-living set of octuplets on record at Kaiser Permanente Hospital in West Los Angeles. The babies, six boys and two girls, are reported to continue growing in strength. "My family and I are ecstatic about all of their arrivals," said the mother in a statement following the births. The octuplets’ grandmother described the babies as "so tiny and so beautiful."
Later it was revealed that Suleman, who is divorced and according to her mother unable to have children naturally, had already had six children via previous fertility treatments. Media attention turned sour as headlines changed to challenge the ethics of the situation.
"Suleman’s story transformed from a dream to a nightmare," wrote a New York Daily News columnist. The story was called a "freak show," "a tawdry nightmare," and "a seedy story of self-indulgence." Some accused Suleman of giving birth as a means to fame and wealth. "If you want to find a way to be famous and to be, in your mind, a celebrity, there’s lots of ways to go about it," says Cooper Lawrence, author of "The Cult of Celebrity." "If you’re not a good singer and you can’t write books," said Lawrence, "go have babies."
Some questioned the ethics of allowing Suleman to undergo treatment again after already having six children, which was billed as the climax of an alleged obsession with children. Yet her mother said Suleman had merely implanted the children already conceived as excess products from her previous treatments. "She doesn’t have any more (frozen embryos), so it’s over now," she said.
Another controversy erupted from ethicists who criticized Suleman’s anonymous doctor for implanting eight embryos at a time. However, according to her parents, Suleman was expecting one more child to result from her remaining embryos, which they say numbered far fewer than eight. The eight would have resulted from some of the embryos splitting into twins or triplets.
Typical IVF treatments implant as many as four embryos at a time, with the expectation that some will naturally miscarry or, if they continue to grow, will be killed in a standard procedure known as "selective reduction of pregnancy."
Many criticized the mother for deviating from the norm of IVF treatment by refusing to abort some of the babies despite the risk to her health on top of her apparent money troubles. In an ABC interview, endocrinology expert Dr. Richard Paulson said that so many children at once are a problem to be avoided at all costs. "Patients who conceive octuplets would routinely be offered - even advised - selective reduction," said Paulson. "I have to assume that in this case, the patients decided to try and carry to viability, and they were lucky, plus they got some really good doctors."
Angela Suleman said that was not an option for Nadya. "What do you suggest she should have done? She refused to have them killed," the grandmother said. "That is a very painful thing."
Judge Andrew Napolitano, FOX News’ Senior Judicial Analyst, confirmed it was quite possible that the octuplets were an unexpected multiplication of fewer embryos, and praised Nadya for choosing not to abort the unexpected lives.
"Notwithstanding all of the above, the mother has done a positive good by bringing these children into the world," wrote Napolitano yesterday. "Life is superior to non-life. Human souls are eternal. Every human life is of potentially infinite value. The God who gave us life reflects His glory through each one of us."