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'Octomom': Hospital to withhold babies

February 25, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
The Whittier mother of octuplets is speaking out. Nadya Suleman claims hospital officials have threatened to withhold her newborn babies unless she proves she can care for them. Experts say the hospital can withhold the newborn octuplets if they feel that the mother simply can't handle them. This is all about the well-being of the children and it could come down to the Department of Child Protective Services to determine if the home environment is safe.

Nadya Suleman left her house Wednesday afternoon without saying a word. As she left her driveway she was chased by a half-dozen paparazzi. They follow her every move.

Suleman said the hospital has told her she might not be able to get her children from the hospital. She told television host "Dr. Phil" that Kaiser officials have said they might not release the children until she proves she can take care of them.

"Normally we presume that a parent is the guardian of the child," said medical ethicist Dr. Miriam Cotler. "When there's serious doubt about the parent's ability to act in the best interest, then we will do various things like call in Adult and Child Protective Services."

Dr. Cotler is a medical ethicist at Northridge Medical Center. She said the children's safety would be paramount.

"The concern is triggered by behaviors such as a history of abuse or an appearance of abuse or some clearly erratic or psychotic behavior on the part of the parent," said Dr. Cotler.

The hospital will not comment about the situation, saying that it is a private matter. The county's Department of Children and Family Services also does not talk about any possible investigations. This comes after Suleman's father appeared on Oprah Winfrey's show and said his daughter has problems.

"I question her mental situation," said Suleman's father, Ed Doud. "I beg the people not to punish someone who is mentally not complete."

And several people today came by to the family home to lend their support.

"She's a mother that wants her children," said Whittier resident Marsha Espinoza. "She's a mother that obviously cares about her children. No matter what, the children are here, you know what I mean? There's nothing that nobody could do about it. Everybody's downing her, doubting her -- I think that it's wrong."

And yet in another twist, Suleman was offered $1 million to appear in an X-rated movie. The family has not offered comment.