Octuplet Dilemma: Should Hospital Let Kids Go, Should Taxpayers Be Burdened?

By Bonnie Erbe, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

In case you watch Dr. Phil's show Thursday, you'll be privy to the second half of his interview with the now-infamous octuplets mother, the first half of which aired Wednesday.

The interview was pre-taped last week and since then Nadya Suleman has apparently been telephoning Dr. Phil McGraw on a regular basis. He told the Los Angeles Times she called him to say she now fears the "Suleman eight" may not be released to her when they are ready to leave the hospital. The infants are still in a neonatal care unit at the Kaiser Permanente hospital where they were born nine-and-a-half weeks prematurely.

Dr. Phil says Suleman believes the hospital won't release her children to her until, "she has a better living arrangement." On the one hand, who could blame the hospital given the following:

"Suleman has become a lightning rod for public ridicule since it was learned that she already was a jobless, divorced mother of six living in her own mother's three-bedroom house when she gave birth Jan. 26 to octuplets conceived through in vitro fertilization.

Suleman, 33, also has acknowledged that she was collecting food stamps and disability benefits for three of her older kids, one of whom is autistic, and that a single "friend" was the sperm donor for all her children.

The public backlash grew so intense at one point that Suleman and her six older children, ranging in age from 2 to 7, went into seclusion because of death threats, according to a publicity firm previously hired by the family."

Under such circumstances, what is a hospital to do? Suleman has been parading around on national TV after bringing eight more children into abject poverty, on top of the six she's already had outside of marriage. It's possible that Kaiser Permanente could be liable for negligence if it released the babies and one or more died.

On the other hand, it's absolutely inexcusable to burden the taxpayer with the costs of Suleman's completely irrational drive to produce children she could not possibly afford to raise.

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By Bonnie Erbe