For just a minute, toagree with Amanda here:
sexist and possibly racist reasons, because if you do think she’s off
her gourd to have so many kids (especially at once), then the proper
response is compassion and not anger. But the anger aimed at her is
interesting, because the official response right up until she gave
birth to 8 babies while unmarried is to treat ridiculous levels with
fecundity with open arms, and never, ever to question our culture’s
preference for child-bearing over not. I don’t think the sea is
changing on that because of Suleman—if she was married, the question
of sanity would never come up in polite company—but there’s a few
indicators that this economic crisis, amongst other things, might be
causing Americans to rethink their opinions. But maybe we’re going to
see the decision not to have a child (or have a child right now) start
to gain equality with the decision to have a child. With the caveat
that some groups of women’s child-bearing has always been considered
suspect depending on their age, race, or socioeconomic status.
Perhaps the first act of of a compassionate response would be to let this woman and her family work out their stuff in some other fashion than on the Today show and yes, on blogs. I swear, I feel the same way about this that I felt about Terri Schaivo: I don’t know whose side I’d be on if this was my life but I do know it’s not my life and I don’t understand why anybody else thinks it’s theirs. Every time I scan the headlines and see some other tidbit of this private family feud being played out I have the same cringe response I had five years ago: This is none of our business.
the heart of the discussion of this woman (who, by the by to everybody
who’s trying to justify their prurient interest with some kind of
responsible-taxpayer standpoint, is not consuming a fraction of the
country’s resources that are consumed by your average U.S. Senator) and her children. It’s about how, even within the confines of a
health-care system that says you can do this if you want to, we still
want some kind of collective, societal say. We want to be able to tell
this woman, that’s enough kids for you, back away from the table.
at having babies. We fawn all over large families on television and in
magazines (Brangelina, anyone?) and then carp that anybody who wants
that many kids is nuts. We laud every fertility advancement but then
look down on women who avail themselves of medical means to conceive.
We talk about “miracle” babies but then say, “Why didn’t you just
adopt?” We tell women they have to have children to be “real
women,” or to complete their marriages, or to fulfill their lives, or
just to have a goddamn conversation at the dinner table, but it’s only
so many children, and only so many ways. It’s no wonder women going
through infertility feel alone, scared, ashamed.
our self-designated national poster family for Clown Car Vaginas these days. There’s no
law against what they’re doing and lifing them about being freeloaders
on the public system starts to sound like Republican cracks about
welfare queens. Judging women for bearing (in our eyes, too many)
children isn’t any more sensible in defense of reproductive freedom
than judging them for not having children. This is the way the world
works. If somebody gets to choose they get to choose, and if you
approve or not, nobody gives a damn what you think.
If somebody gets
treatment they get treatment. If that treatment gets paid for, under our current system, it gets paid for, and speaking only for myself until someone mounts a campaign to divest my taxes from wars and tanks, I won’t get too het up about it paying for women having children, however “irresponsible” their choices may seem to me. The question of whether IVF should be
performed at all (remember, it’sthe Pope who thinks it’s the murder of
helpless proto-babies, and his fundie allieswho think it’s immoral and that you should only have kids if God rewards your virtue with them) and under what
circumstances is not even on the top ten list of most urgent issues in this country at the moment.
Which top ten list includes yet more stimulus dumbassery nobody will be talking about in the grocery store aisles while we cluck over OMG FOURTEEN KIDS. Can the involvement of Congress to support or condemn Suleman be far behind?