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Friday, November 16, 2007

Got Babies? Get Out of Russia, Quick

Got a belly full of babies? Better not try to birth 'em in the neo-USSR. The Telegraph reports:

Doctors in Russia urged a woman pregnant with quintuplets to have selective terminations, it has emerged. The woman has since given birth to the first set of quintuplets to be born in Britain for 10 years. She had had a drug-based fertility treatment which makes multiple births more likely, but refused to have abortions on religious grounds. The mother, a 29-year-old music teacher who does not wish to be named, gave birth to five girls 14 weeks prematurely at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford on Saturday. They were born by caesarean section and their weights range from 1lb 13oz to 2lb 2oz. The babies are said to be doing well and are being cared for in intensive care units at the John Radcliffe and at Queen Charlotte's Hospital in west London. The woman and her husband had travelled to Oxford after doctors in Russia advised her to have a selective reduction, in which some of the foetuses are aborted to give the remaining ones a better chance of survival. The treatment was paid for by wellwishers in Russia. It is thought around eight in 10 babies born so early survive. Mr Lawrence Impey, an obstetrician who led her care, said: "I'm very pleased to be able to help this delightful family. "Mother is recovering well and the babies are doing well." The babies will be cared for in Britain until they are strong enough to go home. Their mother received intensive treatment in recent weeks to prevent her from delivering even earlier.


Artfldgr said...

This is the major reason that birth survivals in the west are often not as high as in the communist states.

if one were to look at this from many angles, the killing of a few fetuses would not have counted as a still birth, or such, but a proceedure. the child that remained would have been healthy.

in the west, they go to heroic efforts to save all the children, and so if things went wrong, the stats would have said X number of dead babies added.

this is one of the common half truths when people argue the stats.

that in the case of western medicine, higher deaths are not due to feeble care, but the opposite and the fact that those who are beyond he line of foreign care, are not removed from the count.

if attempts to save premeture babies and things like those whose hearts are outside the body. then our numbers would be incredibly good, nearly a perfect 100%. however our medicne pushes the limits each time it can, and that means that those that would have never lived walk away, and those that never would have lived and didnt get added to the total because the doctors didnt walk away.

Anonymous said...

I am glad that this woman had a good outcome for her unique situation. I am aware that the use of “fertility drugs” has been common in the west for some time, but this is a phenomena that has only just recently began to be seen in Russia. One drawback of such drugs is the fact that they often produce what we see here, which is the “multiple births, of four, five, six or even more children.

Russia is a relatively poor country, by Western standards. In the area of medical services for its citizens Russia has inherited the health care system of the old USSR, as have all of the other former Soviet republics (i.e., Ukraine, Georgia, Kirghistan, etc.) Russia’s entire GDP is less than the USA currently spends on health care alone. This means that even if Russia spent 100 percent of its GDP, only on health care, and left nothing for food, housing, clothing and everything else that people need, it still could not match the resources of the US health care system.

On one hand this is a testimony to the degree of backwardness of Russia’s economy, and the urgent need to achieve rapid economic growth in Russia. But on the other hand this is also a testimony to the sheer wastefulness of the US health care system. This US system is a system based on the profit motive, where doctors perform operations and other procedures strictly for the profits they can earn from such procedures. This of course leads to dramatic inequities in the delivery of services to the people. Those who have insurance are often lavished with wasteful procedures and medications which have little affect on the underlying disease, while those who lack such insurance cannot gain access to the system even to get minimal and critical life saving medical care. Doctors and hospitals will simply refuse to deal with the person who cannot guaranty them full payment in advance.

The US health care system is also a system where the costs of health care have been rising faster than the overall GDP for many years and even decades. This has lead to the unsustainable situation where the fraction of health care expenditures (as a fraction of the total GDP pie) keeps growing. This in turn has lead to health care providers, which directly are insurance carriers, and which indirectly are employers, to adapting various measures to “contain” these rapidly escalating costs by forcing people into HMOs, “managed care” and other systems, all of which at their root are schemes for rationing and denying care to those who are deemed “less worthy” of it (primarily the men and women of the working class in America, and their children).

The US health care system is well known for its problems, and since 1992 candidates for public office have run on the platform of “reforming” this system, but so far without success. The huge profits reaped by the insurance companies and the medical care providers present a formidable obstacle to reform, in a country where money basically equates to lobbyists and political influence.

Russia’s challenge is a bit different. The challenge for Russia is how best to allocate the available (limited) funds to best support and enhance the overall health care for the total Russian population.

In Russia’s case, funds are more limited than in the case of the USA, therefore funds must be more carefully allocated and spent, by necessity. Russia should not be granting very expensive procedures to the people, which are “discretionary” in nature, such as cosmetic procedures, to “enhance” a woman’s bust, or expand the size of man’s penis, until it first is able to provide a basic level of critical care to all of its citizens.

In this vein, the woman who takes fertility drugs and thereby has some sort of “freakish” medical results (quintuplets) is not a person that could possibly be accommodated by the Russian medical system and its limited resources. The advice that Russian doctors gave this woman, which was to terminate some of the pregnancies so that the others would be assured of living is the best advice and the only advice possible for such a situation in the context of Russia’s limited resources. Russia certainly does have the technology for incubating pre-mature babies. However Russia only makes that technology available to women on an as-needed basis, to help treat situations which are genuine medical emergencies, not the woman who is in her situation because she “took drugs” or because of her private “religious beliefs” These reasons are not good enough reasons to divert Russia’s limited medical resources to such people. Why should five baby incubators be occupied by this one woman, simply to accommodate her preferences and her discretionary choices, when others are asked to go without needed and critical care?

I am aware that in this story the woman was treated in the UK, not the US. But this raises another question. The UK medical system is a nationalized system of universal health care. Was this woman treated in a private hospital or in a public (state) hospital of the UK, at British taxpayer expense, and if so what would be the reason for that?

I know the story made vague allusions to supposed “friends in Russia” who paid to help the woman have this procedure. But I would say that if they were willing to pay there is no reason why the woman could not have had the procedure in Russia too. Rather I believe that the decision to provide this woman with this treatment was just another part of the UK’s ongoing propaganda and political war against Russia and all things Russian, which is only designed to discredit Russia and her leaders.

Indeed who are these anonymous “Russian friends” who allegedly paid for this woman’s trip to Russia and the (apparently) huge costs of providing such procedures? We are told nothing only that the woman “prefers to be anonymous”. Well okay.