The Ethics of Octuplets

As fertility treatments improve, should doctors limit the number of babies a woman can have?

Illustration by Lou Beach for TIME

Fertility clinics are round-the-clock operations, with women coming and going seven days a week for estrogen-monitoring and egg retrieval. The weekend after a California woman gave birth to octuplets, traffic was steady at the Duke Fertility Center in Durham, N.C. Susannah Copland, who oversees Duke's in vitro fertilization (IVF) program, was on call and noticed that "everyone was buzzing about the octuplets." Some patients were shocked, others unnerved. "I don't want eight babies," they told her. "And we don't want you to have eight babies," she responded.

How Nadya Suleman, 33, became pregnant with octuplets is the subject of rampant speculation....

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