Christine Rhyner

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Addicted to Giving Birth?
4/21/2015 12:00:01 AM by: Christine

I just can’t wrap my mind around it. If I were to announce to family and friends at the age of sixty-five that I was expecting twins, let alone quadruplets, I believe most if not all I told would think I was crazy.
Recently I posted a link to a news article about a woman for whom this is true. The article states that her youngest, a nine year-old that she gave birth to at fifty-five, began to pester her for a younger sibling. I suppose that the child’s twelve older siblings, including their children have not been enough company for her.
Is this a responsible thing to do?
It does remind me somewhat of the infamous “Octomom,” Nadia Suleman. Suleman, who had already given birth to six children via in vitro fertilization, gave birth to eight more all in one day in January of 2009. She now lives on government assistance and has been charged with welfare fraud after bringing in unreported income from stripping and performing in adult films. When the octuplets were toddlers Suleman was reported to have said that she found her babies “disgusting” and her older children out of control “animals.” Seems this addiction to having babies without a spouse to help support her and one unremarkable set of skills to bring in an adequate income has worked out well for her—not.
Mostly what I wonder about are fertility specialists who implant multiple embryos in women. Suleman was a healthy young woman at the time of her in vitro. Why implant at least eight embryos in this woman? Why, even at the age of sixty-five would a doctor implant at least four embryos that we know of, into this German woman, soon to be mom of seventeen? I do not know what Annegret Raunigk’s financial situation is. We do know that she is a school teacher whose thirteen children have five different fathers and for this set of quads has used donated sperm and eggs. It may be that she has in effect signed her children up to be caretakers for her new brood, expected to arrive this summer.
And what about celebrities who, after years of fame and fortune, perhaps tired of meaningless self-indulgence, decide to become parents in their sixties and beyond? Is it Okay to create offspring at say, sixty-five years-old like Elton John because you have gobs of cash?
At one time I had started the in vitro process. After thousands of dollars in hormone shots, regular trips to the fertility clinic and loads of anticipation the process was called off. I was told by my specialist that “they” would not continue with in vitro unless at least four healthy eggs could be extracted for possible fertilization. Seems a bit unfair that a clinic will crush a dream to become a parent if one does not meet their protocol—(more babies produced equals greater success rates which equals greater business and income generated for them)—yet place women and children at risk by intentionally creating pregnancies of multiple children.
Just as I don’t want to see fertility clinics dictate the minimum number of eggs to extract or embryos to implant, I don’t think prospective parents should be told the maximum number of children they can have in one pregnancy. But I do think strict protocols should be in effect for the potential of multiple births resulting from reproductive technologies.
As one who has adopted more than once I can tell you that the process is arduous, with one intrusive and invasive requirement after another needing to be met to prove one can effectively care for that child. Why not put some of these requirements into effect for those who would agree to be implanted with eight, nine, ten embryos?
On second thought, why wouldn’t people like Annegret Raunigk consider adopting say, an eight year-old to add to her family and her nine year-old’s desire for a sibling? After all, if she has the money to pay for in vitro and the care of quadruplets along with her other minor children, she definitely could have afforded the adoption of a child. But then, no agency, birth parent or country would likely allow her to adopt at her age. And that says volumes about the freedom women (and men) have in this country and others to determine how many babies they may create and for how long in their lives. Just some things to consider is all.
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