When the public anger dies down over Nadya Suleman's delivery of octuplets she can't support, I think something very positive will emerge from this debacle. Now that Octo Mom, as the popular media so gleefully designates her, has pushed the uses of new reproductive technologies to the extreme, our society is forced to seriously consider the ethical and human issues behind the amazing possibilities this technology offers more suitable candidates. The urgent need for this kind of consideration is the point my book, "Cryo Kid - Drawing a New Map" makes (www.cryokid.com). As definitions of families are changing (what "Cryo Kid" calls transformational families), how do we incorporate the values we cherish into these new social units? And how do we regulate the use of assisted reproduction technologies so that they benefit society rather than act to its detriment? Well, perhaps I wrote about these issues a tad (2008!)before they were plunged so dramatically into public awareness. Now, along with its sensationalistic coverage of the consequences of Suleman's actions, the media has begun to pay some critical attention to where baby making -- and families -- are really heading. Just the other day, National Public Radio did a segment on changing definitions of families (www. npr.org, Feb. 26, 2009,and yesterday the Vancouver Sun published an excellent article by Margaret Somerville on "Society's role in reproduction" (www.vancouversun.com, March 2, 2009. A7). Somerville (the director of the Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law at McGill University)suggests that the cumulative wisdom that is the basis for adoption procedures be applied to who should -- or should not -- be given access to reproductive technologies. Sounds reasonable. She may be right. But if she is, who will determine this eligibility? The government? If so, which government? Does government have any business in "the bedrooms of the nation"? The late Canadian Prime Minister, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, was emphatic that it does not. And even if our governments in Canada and the U.S. are the deciders for their citizens, other countries may not have the same policy. After all, artificial reproduction is a profitable industry. When fertility doctors in Calgary would not treat Ranjit Hayer, the 60-year-old mother who gave birth to twins recently, she went to India for in vitro insemination. Will it be possible to establish an international regulatory body in this field in the near future? So many questions to consider! For example, is "reduction" of embryos in the womb the same as abortion? Nadya Suleman thought it was and refused to let it happen. So she wound up with eight. Hayer believed it would protect the survival of her babies and ended up with two. Who's right? Is there a right or wrong? Should it be a matter of individual choice? Should decision-making be left to the discretion of the medical profession? Some experts in the field of assisted reproduction caution against establishing any pat formulas as yet in regard to human reproduction. Regulations adopted in haste may have unintended consequences, as some of the medical and legal speakers at the conference on "Designer Babies" I attended last year intimated (and as I posted in an earlier blog). CDs of this conference are available from the Centre for Society and Genetices at UCLA (www.socgen.com). One of the things I found valuable in Margaret Somerville's article is the distinction she makes between reproductive technology that repairs nature (as in the case of a 27-year-old mother whose fallopian tubes were blocked)) and technology that makes it possible to do what is impossible in nature. And she raises some important ethical issues that society will have to resolve in the near future, such as storing ovarian tissue for use later in life or sperm and ova made from adult stem cells. "What about creating a baby with more than two genetic parents." she asks, "or making a shared genetic baby between two men or two women?" All these things, once not even visualized by science-fiction, are possible today. Are they good for society as we know it? As I see it, the only certainty is that the way we make babies and the composition of our family units are both in a state of flux. I believe that this is not the time for knee jerk decision-making or media sensationalism. It is not a time for irrational anger against a scapegoat whose mental health is in doubt. But it is time for reflective and considered study by those most knowledgeable in this field. This process has already started. What can be more important than our children-to-be? Or the well-being of our families, no matter how we define them.