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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 2/2/09

Octuplets in California: Who will bear the financial cost for their care?

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Message Mary MacElveen
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In a past piece, I wrote where the State of California is now handing out IOUs since their debt has sky-rocketed and this has a devastating affect on families who need to provide for their families.  IOUs do not put food on the family table.


With the birth of octuplets as with any multiple-birth comes with it a heavy financial burden.  In the past, communities and corporations have come to the aid of these families, but in these harsh economic times, I do suspect that the unidentified woman who now has fourteen children will not receive as much as couples past.


Presently, we have over 47 million going without health insurance, and that number will climb as many are being laid off.  Neonatal care is highly expensive and if a person has no insurance, it is the state who must pick up the tab.  I do not know how the State of California can afford to pay for her care and the care of these eight children who will be in intensive care for roughly two months.


This woman along with her fourteen children will become a mini-stimulus package if the state is forced to pick up any portion of the tab.  I feel it irresponsible on the doctor’s part to perform any fertility enhancing procedure on a woman who already had six children.  In my opinion it is incumbent upon these doctors not only to check whether or not she is physically healthy to go through this procedure, but financially as well.  Both patients and doctors alike cannot expect others to pay for the outcome should multiple births such as this one occur.


In this blog, you will read heart-wrenching questions posed by others who feel they cannot afford to bring one child into this world and this is where doctors such as the fertility doctors who performed this procedure on this woman should listen to.


One woman writes: "With the economy in its current edition, that plays heavy on my mind every day. I go back and forth on whether now (or ever!) is the right time to have a baby."


Another woman writes: "What if we weren’t able to make our mortgage payment and bills? I would feel guilty for choosing to have a child and then not able to afford it. What type of a parent does that make me?" 


I now wonder how couples who are putting off having a child because of this dismal economy are feeling knowing aid will rush to this woman as is the case with other cases of multiple births.  Their arms remain empty.


In November of 1997 in which the economy was fairing far better than today, a couple, Bobbi and Kenny McCaughey in Iowa gave birth to septuplets.  They received the following help: “Millions of Americans followed the story. Carter's, Similac, Kmart, and other companies donated clothes, formula and shoes to the family, while Hannibal-Lagrange College (Missouri) offered scholarships for the children. Iowa's building contractors and suppliers gave the McCaugheys a larger house, and celebrities donated money to help the children. Citizens from all over the country sent clothes, money, letters and toys. In addition to financial help, hundreds of volunteers helped feed, clothe, diaper and cuddle the babies.”


Will a community or communities come to the rescue with the birth of these octuplets?  Will corporations who are facing leaner times as well come to their aid?  Right now, many parents can no longer afford to pay for their children’s tuition at college and how must they feel should any college(s) come forth to offer the aid to these children?


As builders came to the McCaughey’s aid in building them a larger home for their expanded family, in our harsher economy of today, many are facing foreclosure where they have no place to call home.


What those doctors did was perform medical malpractice and should be held to account.  The one question they should have asked this woman first and foremost is, “Can you afford to bring these babies into the world?” when so many women are facing economic hardships having but one child.  A doctor’s motto is “First do no harm” and medically and ethically, they did.  What happens if one, two or more will face any number of debilitating conditions due to this birth?  They will be the ones made to suffer as these doctors fade into the background.


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On a side note: Twenty-years ago today, I gave birth to twins.  One lived three days and the other still born.  The viable twin lived for three days and I can tell you that the cost of his care was expensive.  The hospital two years later sued us for unpaid bills.  We did pay them off.

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I am a writer who currently writes pieces for my own blog I have been published by, and I was a guest on the Jay Diamond Radio Show on WRKO in Boston and have (more...)
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