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As reported by WTNH Channel 8, March 26, 2009.

Octomom Case Raises Ethical Questions

Is the Patient or the Clinic Responsible?

By Jamie Muro

She has been dubbed "The Octomom;" when news broke that Nadya Suleman gave birth to eight babies, there was amazement followed by heated debate. Her case has raised questions about the ethics involved in planting so many embryos and where the responsibility lies, with the patient or the clinic?

Multiple gestation, in which there are two or more fetuses in the womb, occurs only in about one to two percent of pregnancies. But with fertility drugs and in-vitro fertilization, multiple gestations are much more common and can pose serious risks.

And while the "Octomom" story has become a national obsession, doctors and mothers who have gone through fertility treatments warn there is no glamor in giving birth to an army of babies.

Life, indeed, is a miracle. It's amazing how something so small can offer so much. New "mom" Tiffany learned instantly that great things come in small packages.

"It felt surreal," she said. "I can't believe this is happening and she's here and she's ours."

Three-week old Sophie is here thanks to Mother Nature who got an assist from the University of Connecticut Advanced Reproductive Services .

"It's amazing," said Tiffany. "To think that she might not have been possible 30 or 40-years-ago."

But ask Tiffany what would it be like if she had seven more Sophie's, all at the same time.

"Oh my god, I don't how she does it," she said. "When she cries, what can I do? I can't imagine eight crying babies."

Fertility treatments have rocketed to a height not usually seen for the common mom.

"Octomom" Nadya Suleman is found anywhere from tabloid magazines to ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel." But, to specialists, this is not a light matter.

"You have the right to as many children as you desire," said Reproductive Specialist Dr. Claudio Benadiva. "But not at one time; not all together, that's where our responsibility comes into the picture."

Fertility Doctor Benadiva of the UConn Health Center said if anything, the "Octomom" case is a shot in the arm to both the medical community and community in general. It demonstrates the importance of responsible, ethical treatments. Depending on the age of the mother, UConn rarely implants more than two embryos.

"When you look at the national data, the percentage of pregnancies that result in multiple pregnancies, has been dropping year after year," said Dr. Benadiva. "Our society has established guidelines."

And often, when UConn professionals work with patients, there are often probing and tough questions to answer before possible pregnancy, making sure the situation would be right for both mother and child.

"It's very difficult. People would say to us all the time, 'What right do you have to make decisions?' Anyone else can go out and get pregnant anywhere they want," said Psychologist Dr. Mary Casey Jacob. "We have to make people understand that once you are asking for our help, we all have to feel good about the choices we made."

Those situations can also involve economic factors. Connecticut law ensures that for the most part, people in a certain age bracket, will receive insurance covering at least two cycles of fertility treatments. But some in the medical community fear as more people lose jobs, the less likely it will be that some will consider starting or expanding a family.

"It's true, a lot of centers in other states have been reporting a lower demand, definitely," said Dr. Benadiva.

But the future is now for Tiffany. Little Sophie is a perfect example of the wonder of life, teamed with the practicality of ethical science; one baby and a lifetime of possibility.

Doctors at the Center for Advanced Reproductive Services at UCONN advise future-parents to be to do their homework and investigate clinics before you go see the doctor.

For instance, the clinic in which the "Octomom" went has a historically low success rate. UConn and Yale, on the other hand, have greater success.

The statistics are provided by the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology. For more information, visit SART.