Enough about Octo-Mom! What about the Doctor?
When has a person's right to reproduce gone too far? Maybe when the fertility physician is performing unethically. If the public has grown weary of hearing debate after debate about the moral, financial, and social aspects of Nadya Suleman's decision to have 14 children, perhaps it would be interested to hear about the legal factors. After all, the law is what ultimately has the power to decide whether or not certain fertility assistance is acceptable.
It was recently revealed by Suleman that her fertility doctor, Michael Kamvara, implanted her with six embryos for each of her six pregnancies (four single births, one set of twins, and the octuplets). While implanting this many embryos is not illegal, it is not really a standard, especially for someone of Suleman's age (she's 33).
"Our guidelines provide the flexibility to give each patient treatment individualized to her needs, and her best chance to become pregnant without risking high-order multiple pregnancy," explained Dr. R. Dale McClure, president of American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM). "However, it seems that the guidelines may not have been followed in Ms. Suleman's case."
The ASRM and the Medical Board of California are investigating Kamvara and his clinic, the West Coast IVF Clinic of Beverly Hills. Although the state has not taken any previous disciplinary action against Kamvara, he has a history of malpractice and wrongful termination lawsuits, and has been accused of income tax evasion. There is another issue, regarding Kamvara's right to practice as a fertility specialist. Physicians in this field will typically be listed as certified by the American Board of Medical Specialties or the Society of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility. A Forbes.com search of both sites did not find Kamvara listed as a certified fertility specialist. According to Forbes.com, at least 15% of physicians practice specially without board certification. The West Coast IVF Clinic is a member of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART), which is not a regulatory agency. Because of this, Kamvara can still practice medicine even if the clinic is kicked out of SART. As a point of interest, Kamvara's pregnancy rate in 2006 - the year that he assisted Suleman with the conception of her twins - was among the lowest in the country. The clinic performed 52 in-vitro procedures, five resulting in pregnancy, and only two in births, one of which were the Suleman twins. If the blogs and other communities discussing this whole issue are any indication, many people do not agree with Suleman's choices, and are calling for Kamvara to take the fall. The findings about his practice may encourage that end. Still, even more people may begin questioning the legal restrictions of fertility assistance, since a change in the law is the only thing that can truly determine whether choosing to have 14 children without the means to support them is "right" or "wrong."