Friday, February 6, 2009

"Octo Mom" - IVF laws

I really didn't care about the first news feeds that crossed my cursor regarding the California mom who recently gave birth to 8 babies. It's just another litter and another Discovery show; I clicked elsewhere. But the story is pervasive and made its way to the morning and evening news. Nestled between the debates about the stimulus bill tonight, both Fox and MSNBC injected this human interest story.

Both anchors injected their strong opposition. MSNBC's talking head basically made her out to be just a crazy loon - end of story: OctoMom now has 14 kids, no daddy, no job, etc and she insisted to transfer 6 embryos. Fox's talking head (I'm being gracious) took her anger out on the medical community. She opined that creating embryos in the lab was akin to murdering babies. "Where are the laws" she asked her doctor panelists? One top doc's response was that most clinics absolutely follow the rules set out by the ASRM (1-3 embryos transferred dependent on strict factors). As he was trying to explain how most ( a lot?) of embryos are not viable "like any seed", she cut him off and slammed him for not answering the question about how many embryos were being killed every year.

To her credit, her question inspired me back to the blog, "where are the laws"? Here is an opportunity to take some negative press and turn it around. Since science has been invited back to Washington, let's get this addressed.

Let's start with this law: infertility treatment should be treated as a disease> thus covered by insurance (or, gasp, universal health care) > thus less need to produce unnecessary embryos (low stim cycles) .

Less drugs, less embryos, less neo natal intensive care costs for multiple preemies= duh!

Enough developed nations already employ these laws with this science; the results are out.

Having just dealt with a local politician who wanted to kill the IVF mandate in my state, I can safely say (as did he) that he didn't understand the personal plight that leads one to IVF. No one gets it that isn't intimately involved with it. Let's get some normal IF patients onto these talking head panels.


ashley said...

So nice to hear from you again. This story should have never gotten the press that it has, but even bad news is new I guess. Thanks for the post!

Emily said...

Good post! Hopefully this crazy story will inspire more positive change in our community!

Anonymous said...

I'd like to know how you feel about this, honestly. I've been perusing the infertility blogs for a while now and although I haven't experienced it, I am always interested in learning more. I always said If I hadn't gone into law, I would have been a doctor.

I'm starting to form the opinion that if IVF was covered by insurance (all insurance, for everyone), then multiple births would go down. I have no problem with a person or couple deciding to have a large family, but I'm stating to support the idea of single embryo transfers (for healthy women under 35-obviously there are more factors, but as a generalization) as law (or mandate). Since IVF would be covered there would (theoretically) be less pressure from a cost standpoint (I know age and severity of PCOS and/or MFI, etc are also factors). I also am starting to think that women may be more inclined to want to use 1 embryo if they didn't feel like IVF #1 was their one and only shot.

I realize that the majority of births from IVF aren't multiples, but for some reason, and maybe it's just the blogs i'm visiting, everywhere I turn are twins, thoughts of twins, hopes for twins. The women who are in the 2ww or still not pregnant express a wish, and almost a need for it to be twins. It seems more than the "one and done" mentality, too. As in one pregnancy and we're done building our family. This may be some sort of unfounded notion on my part, and again, I am struggling to learn so I just wanted your opinion. Thanks for listening.


Clio said...

Virginia, it´s so nice to hear your voice again...
I haven´t been following much press on anything since I´m away
but even here in Brazil I heard some people talking about the 8 babies, but no details on it.
I do agree that if the financial aspect of IVF would be covered by insurance, maybe women would be less tempted to transfer a greater number of embryos. But also, I believe there must be more education on that regard and perhaps even more say from the doctors on the matter. There should be a limit, with, of course, rare exceptions. But mostly, I feel that education would be key.

L said...

I TOTALLY AGREE!! If we didn't have to put our savings, sell cars, work for a year (or more) or save, etc. etc. etc. just for ONE CHANCE- there would be less multiples with IVF. I think that there should be something addressed about it. If the government is going to step in and say "No more than xx amount transfered", then they need to come up with a way to help. Honestly. Common sense people. I am thankful you live in a state that has it mandated!!!

Virginia said...

Danielle / Anonymous -

My honest answer to your question can be found in my blog over the last couple of months.

Or to recap:
We've been trying to get pregnant for years. Due to a job change, we moved to AR and learned from the Fertility Clinic that I was covered for IVF due to state mandate. After exhausting all other options we moved forward with the most invasive - IVF. We did NOT want twins and were lucky to have some extra blasts to freeze. We were given the option by the doc to transfer 2; we chose one. I got pregnant with a singleton. 8 weeks later I learned the heart stopped beating. If we decide to transfer again, we will only transfer one at a time. I am afforded this "luxury" because IVF has been mandated as a covered insurance expense in AR. If I had to take out loans like the majority of my peers, I would certainly be transfering more.

Upon learning I was pregnant, I also learned that an AR state Rep wanted to repeal the IVF mandate. I started blogging about that furiously here. Many of the readers wrote to the Rep. We brewed quite a storm and within a couple of weeks, he dropped bill to repeal the mandate.

Warm hellos to Ashley, Emily, Clio and L

AY said...

Anyone here any news about our Little Rock Doc---Dr. F.B.?

Virginia said...

AY: I haven't heard anything about Dr. FB? I looked around in the news and couldn't find anything. I do have a reader who works at the clinic; hopefully she will chime in?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the answer, but I was really asking about the mentality of some of the women who have battled infertility, and even though they know the risks associated with carrying multiples, and the almost guaranteed chance of 2 or 3 babies coming prematurely, it's still their "wish" to have multiples, instead of one at a time. I realize that wasn't something you wanted and I have gone back and read your blog.

I just have a feeling (from reading several blogs that I won't name here but I can e-mail to you) that even if there was full insurance coverage for infertility and IVF with the requirement that only one embryo be transfered, a lot of people in the infertility community still wouldn't be happy with that.

I don't know if I'm getting too Dr. Phil here, but there's something about having multiples that seems to make an infertile woman feel 'special' after years of feeling heartbroken and being lapped by friends and family members who seem to get pregnant just looking at each other.

Everyone who wants to be a mother and create a family should be able to, but I can't help but get disheartened when I see bloggers scheduling their first ultrasounds and write "Please let us see TWINS!!!!!" or after having somewhat high beta numbers, coming back and writing "There's only (emphasis on only) one baby in there, but we're thrilled nonetheless." As if it's a disappointment that they have one baby growing inside them.

Again, it doesn't seem like a one and done mentality, but more a fulfillment of finally getting something, or being special, or having this unique twin factor that other fertile friends don't get to have (you know, unless you happen to have a friend who had spontaneous twins, but that's not as likely).

Have you seen this and what are your thoughts on infertile women who crave the twins?


Virginia said...


I do have some musings... There is such a good chance for multiples with fertility treatment that perhaps "wishing for multiples" becomes sort of survival mechanism. Perhpaps infertile moms to be have , over time, evovled to wishing for what might likely happen?

On the other side of the token, perhaps we infertiles, who have spent years and years and years and $$$$$ trying to start our families are rather keen on the idea of the instant little family? Time and money have passed so might as well get a move on?

MLO said...

All of the arguments I have heard for regulation are eerily similar to the eugenics arguments of the 19th and 20th centuries. I believe all of medicine is already over-regulated. This is probably because I have seen first hand the problems caused by the DEA and its overzealous enforcement of restricting painkillers - even in hospice situations.

The other thing is that medicine is incredibly individual. No patient is going to behave exactly as expected. Each individual case needs to be determined by a physician - not politicians.

Politicians don't understand beehives? Why on earth would I let them near my medical needs?

Elisabeth said...


My name is Elisabeth, and I am an infertility / repeated pregnancy loss "veteran". You can read a little bit about me and my experiences in my (not very updated) blog: . I am completing a PhD in Counseling Psychology, and my dissertation is focused upon the impact of infertility on marriage. I believe strongly that there is a need for better support services for men and women who are undergoing IF diagnosis and treatment, and my hope is that this study will aid in the development of such services.

I am contacting you after stumbling across your blog. I am recruiting participants for my study, and wanted to invite you and your husband to take part. All that would be involved would be the completion of an online survey, that would take approximately 20 minutes. All couples who complete the surveys will receive a voucher good for a pair of free movie tickets at a Regal Cinemas.

Please let me know if you are interested by emailing me at . I have included the criteria for participation below.

Best of luck to you!

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

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