Why We Should Ignore the 'Octomom'

12 Pages Posted: 23 May 2009 Last revised: 19 Oct 2009

Date Written: October 16, 2009


Thanks to the “Octomom” - a single, low-income, California mother of six, who recently gave birth to octuplets conceived through IVF - the American public this year turned its attention to assisted reproductive technology. In this essay, I take issue with one set of proposals to arise from the controversy: embryo-transfer limits, variations on which have been proposed in Georgia, Missouri, and, most recently, by Naomi Cahn and Jennifer Collins. Examining national and international multiple-birth rates, as well as similar limits in other countries, I argue that government-mandated embryo-transfer limits would produce fewer benefits and higher costs in the United States than proponents assume. First, the Octomom is a sad and disturbing, but aberrant, case. Second, questions of embryo transfer and multiple birth inevitably intersect with other politically contentious issues, including the moral and legal status of embryos and abortion. These political minefields render it highly unlikely that the United States will implement comprehensive embryo-transfer regulation effectively designed to reduce multiple births anytime soon.

Keywords: ART, IVF, fertility, octomom, nadya suleman, industry self-regulation, embryos

JEL Classification: K00, K10, K40

Suggested Citation

Krawiec, Kimberly D., Why We Should Ignore the 'Octomom' (October 16, 2009). Northwestern University Law Review, 2009, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1409037

Kimberly D. Krawiec (Contact Author)

Duke University School of Law ( email )

210 Science Drive
Box 90362
Durham, NC 27708
United States

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