Like Kerry Howley, I believe that when it comes to government regulation of in-vitro fertilization gone wild, the bureaucratic cure could be worse than the infertility cure.
However, Kerry sees a doctor who performs IVF as a morally neutral agent, working like an employee at the One-Hour-Photo Shop, shrugging his shoulders as he develops mementos of adultery and scandal, separating his own duties from his clients' sins.
We ought to distinguish crusades of government, as well as the passive observation of moral indiscretions already committed, from the actions of clinicians who potentially cause significant harm. Carrying octuplets to term would almost certainly lead to low gestational birth ages and weights (the California woman's offspring averaged about 2.5 pounds), as well as a dramatically increased risk of abruptio placenta, congenital malformations, eclampsia, or other events that could lead to long-term adverse effects for the products of this Guinness Book adventure. Indeed, someone might find it precious to ensure the birth of a child with Huntington's Disease, so Junior could be "just like mom," but I would decline the request to preferentially pluck such favored follicles.
Of course, we risk committing "IVF refusal ad absurdam"; We begin with objections to embryos with HD, and end with the dismissal of embryos cursed with my characteristic attached earlobes. Additionally, dramatically increased risk does not equal a guarantee of harm. Thus, I understand why conscientious clinicians might not yet object to the implantation of eight embryos. However, I reject the overall notion that a doctor ought to shove fingers in her ears, ignoring the loud protestations of her ventromedial prefrontal cortex, as it shouts that something is not quite right.
Upon public outbursts, such as "How could doctors let her bring so many babies to term?," Kerry counters with
"If there is a problem here, I’m pretty sure it is not that doctors are insufficiently judgmental in matters of female reproduction. Fertility specialists are medical service providers, not religious counselors, not ethicists. I would no more ask a GP whether it is ethical to bring 8 babies to term than I would ask her to hold forth on the existence of souls."The problem is, the critic does not necessarily esteem the doctor an expert on ethical matters, but merely objects to the doctor's violation of said critic's own ethical views. I'm not concerned with the accountant's opinions on the ethics of tax fraud. But I will denounce him when he unscrupulously helps people cheat.