Family Who Refused Abortion of Sextuplets Now Has Five at Home

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 10, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Family Who Refused Abortion of Sextuplets Now Has Five at Home

by Maria Gallagher Staff Writer
June 10, 2004

Granite City, IL ( — Five of Ron and Tina Otten’s sextuplets are now home in Illinois, where they soon hope to be joined by their brother Jacob.

Jacob remains at St. John’s Mercy Medical Center in a suburb of St. Louis, Missouri, but doctors are hopeful he will be able to come home soon.

Tina Otten, the mother of the brood, says that her babies appear to be adjusting well to life outside the hospital.

"We are doing pretty well with our schedule so far," Otten said in a written statement. "We just have to adjust to the four-hour feeding schedule now that five of the babies are home."

Otten chose to go ahead with the pregnancy, even though doctors recommended abortion. The physicians used the phrase "selective reduction," a procedure in which one or more babies are aborted to improve the chances that the rest will survive and be healthy.

But the Ottens rejected the idea of ending the lives of their babies before birth.

"We asked them not to even discuss it with us again," Ron Otten told a Belleville, Illinois newspaper. "We can’t play God."

"They talked and cried over it a lot," Johnnie Reckert, Tina’s father, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper. "They knew the babies were already alive. There was no way they could do that."

Dozens of doctors and nurses assisted in the birth, which observers called "amazingly calm."

In addition to Jacob, the Otten sextuplets include Madison, Tyler, Isabella, Joshua, and Rileigh. They were born prematurely on April 9.

Otten and her husband Ron already had two daughters — Hannah, 4 and Abigail, 2 — prior to the birth of the sextuplets, which include three boys and three girls.

The couple had undergone fertility treatments in order to conceive their older children and used the same method when they tried to conceive a third time. But the Ottens said they never dreamed the fertility drug would result in the birth of six babies.

"We figured maybe twins, triplets. We never imagined six," Ron Otten said.

The Ottens, who live in Granite City, say they’ve been overwhelmed by offers of help from friends and family.

While they were staying in the neonatal unit of the hospital, the sextuplets were cared for by ten registered nurses around the clock.

The parents of the sextuplets and their caregivers add that the babies already exhibit distinct personalities. Isabella smiles constantly, while Jacob is fussy. Joshua and Tyler are quiet, and Madison wants to be held frequently. Rileigh experienced trouble breathing, but he appears better now.

The Otten Family Benefit Fund has been established at the Bank of Edwardsville, P.O. Box 899, Edwardsville, IL 62025.