Opinion: Octuplets: happiness times eight, or selfishness?


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Was this a blessed event multiplied by eight, or stunt medicine?

The mother who delivered octuplets -- eight apparently healthy infants -- in Bellflower on Monday, with the assistance of more than 40 medical staff in four delivery rooms, is facing a future of about 400 diaper changes a week, virtually round-the-clock breastfeeding and unsolicited child-rearing advice from strangers. One pointed critique comes today from a father of twins born prematurely, who weighs in with an Op-Ed.

But there are larger questions being asked about this birth. At the same time everyone’s glad the babies and the mother are fine, the blogosphere, including reader blogs here at The Times, is hopping with questions....


How much did this feat cost, and who’s paying? Is there any insurance that will cover the births and medical costs of rearing eight children? We don’t know whether the mother was on fertility drugs -- the hospital isn’t talking -- but is it really responsible to allow seven simultaneous pregnancies to proceed (doctors didn’t realize there was an eighth fetus until the day of delivery), especially knowing all the health complications facing multiple-birth babies of four and above?

Should medical ethics consider requiring fertility-treatment patients to agree to limit the number of babies to, say, four?

With limited global resources and evidently unlimited global population growth, people are questioning whether this was a responsible decision by the parents and the doctors.

Some of the blog comments that were dismayed at the births thought that having eight infants at once is an act of selfishness -- toward the babies, and the difficult futures they could face, and toward the rest of us, the country and the planet.

Down the road, as population pressures on resources become more pronounced even here, could we be looking at a future tax structure that gives a smaller tax credit for every child after, say, two, as a disincentive to have more children than a couple’s own ‘’replacement’’ numbers? That might be the ultimate carbon tax.