Ethics in Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART)

Assisted reproductive technology (ART) is widely sought and used in the world today. A number of debatable issues arise due to this practice and maybe the most notable is the case of Nadya Suleman. A big part of the public is of the opinion that regulations should be in place to ensure that the rights of the fetus or babies are not violated.

Sometimes in the practice of ART doctors and their clients defy the regulations and ethics as many may argue was the case of Nadya the octuplets mom.

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Antonowicz (2009) tells Nadya’s story. She was a 33 year old single mother of six who delivered in vitro fertilized octuplets. Growing up, Nadya was the only child of an emotionally detached mother who herself had grown up in a dysfunctional family and a father who wanted a bigger family.

In her own words Nadya describes her childhood as lonely, and admits to an obsession to have babies. Clearly Nadya wanted to fill her world with babies as a compensation for the brothers and sisters she never had.

Nadya Suleman was jobless at the time she delivered her octuplets. Already a mother of six whom she could not comfortably provide for, Nadya had eight more children knowing well that it was beyond her means to provide them with not only materially but also love and the parental care they needed.

Three of her children had learning disabilities. Nadya Suleman’s actions can be defined as anything but ethical, her obsession with big a family is the only reason why she was giving birth.

Dr Michael Kamrava implanted Nadya with six embryos; there was a split later that resulted in a total of eight. Caplan (2007) posts that multiple births are considered an unavoidable consequence of assisted reproductive technology because implanting more embryos increases the chances of a life birth.

The above statement could mean that what Dr Kamrava did was within standards, but yet again Nadya’s case was different, she only wanted one more child. Dr. Kamrava was aware of her in vitro history and that all the embryos might have survived following her previous in vitro experiences which had high success rate.

There was also a possibility of a split resulting in more than six embryos. The recommended number of embryo implantation in the US for women under the age of 35 years is two (Antonowicz, 2009). Dr Michael Kamrava implanted 33 year old Nadya with six.

According to Rosato (2006) multiple births pose higher risks to the health of the mother and foetus. Children born in single births have higher birth weight, mortality rates are higher in multiple births and the risk of babies born with congenial birth defects is higher in multiple births.

Three of the six of Nadya’s older children had learning disabilities yet her doctor went ahead with a multiple implantation knowing that the babies were at a higher risk of being born with defects.


Dr Michael Kamrava was wrong when he implanted Nadya Suleman with six embryos. In the first place it is against the US regulations of in vitro fertilization for a woman of age under 35 years to be implanted with more than 2 embryos unless under special circumstances, which was not the case.

Nadya was already a mother of six; the doctor became an accomplice who helped Nadya exploit her children and right to motherhood just to feed her obsession. By risking not only the lives of the octuplets but also that of the mother, the doctor acted unethically.

Reference List

Antonowicz, A. (2009). Octuplets mum Nadya Suleman: My amazing story. Retrieved April 10, 2001, from

Caplan, L. Fiester, A. & Ravitsky, V. (2009) The Penn Centre guide to bioethics. New Yolk: Springer publishing company.

Rosato, J. (2004). The children of ART (assisted reproductive technology): Should the law protect them from harm? New York: McMillan.


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