Yes, I Am Going To Talk About Octuplet Mom

For just a minute, toagree with Amanda here:

There’s no doubt in my mind that the reaction to Suleman is hostile for
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.

And that’s really the heart of the matter. It’s really what’s at
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.
We as a society are deeply screwed up when it comes to how we look
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.
And God forgive me, I’m about to defend the Duggars, since they’re
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?


17 thoughts on “Yes, I Am Going To Talk About Octuplet Mom

  1. I agree. While I have no idea why anyone would want to have 14 kids, it’s none of my frakking business. It’s another case of American moralizing about any and all subjects, which something I detest.

  2. I am not sexist or racist to object to this situation. It is a cheap shot of you at those who object to this irresponsible woman. As for this being her private matter did you know she has a publicist? If it’s so private why does she have a publicist? Consider the woman had 6 kids before this, she was on food stamps % disability already. Somebody, NOT HER!, is going to be picking up the ridiculous bills for her ridiculous decision to pull a stunt like this. Just the initial hospital stay is estimated at $1.5mil to $3mil. If we are going to reform health care EVERYONE has a responsibility to use the system wisely and with regard for others who also need resources from this system. This woman is free to do what she wants if she can pay her way. But she prevailed on her parents, the state and who knows who else has been paying her way for her. What is she, a Wall St banker with her own special rules? If we are upset about excess and irresponsibility at the top we can’t excuse it from the other end. That doesn’t make any sense if we are truly interested in fixing the things that have stopped working correctly in this country. This woman is extremely selfish. She is just taking advantage. She’s doing it on the public dime so it is my business. Its everybody’s business. Just ask her publicist!

  3. I’m sorry but having that many kids is irresponsible whether you’re on welfare or have the resources of Bill Gates.
    We’ve already exceeded the human population that is sustainable on this planet. Yes, I know our growth rate is much less than that of thosethird world countries (as every bigoted and America-centric person will tell you because it’s alltheir fault) but even at 1% a population will double roughly every 70 years. If you want to seriously address problems like global climate change, population control needs to be part of the discussion/action.
    However, serious discussions never take place whether you’re talking about birth control, dignity in death or any other thing that might interfere with someone’s religious delusions. I’m not saying we should enact legislation limiting the number of children one can have but we should institute tax policy that encourages zero population growth (2 child deduction [for 18-24 years depending on status as full-time student] per life-time).
    Then again, my tax policy wouldn’t resemble our current one in any aspect. That is, income would be income regardless of source and the only deduction on personal income taxes would be for the amount of the modal cost of living for where you live [these statistics are readily available and all locations could be easily accommodated with several brackets]. The income tax would still be progressive but based on a percentage (multiple) of the mCOL. Anyway, I digress. But that level of reproduction is irresponsible. Period.

  4. I agree with HEcate. But I have one thing to add to this. Its illegal for a daycare to propose to care for children in the quantities that this woman has already produced with the level of adult supervision that she and her mother are able to provide. Its.Illegal. Its illegal to stuff eight babies into a crib. I don’t see why common sense should fly out the window and it should be legal for anyone, male or female, to propose bringing X number of babies into the world when their living conditions will be so radically substandard that they would be illegal if the adults involved were *not* related to the children. Sure, there’s some kind of patriarchalism going on in the criticism of this woman for not being married. But its not sexism tout court because if society found out that some guy had adopted seven infants simultaneously with no financial plan, no education, and insufficient family backing you can bet your boots he’d come in for some criticism. In fact serial deadbeat dads routinely come in for criticism for not taking responsibility for their procreative decisions. Nadya Suleman isn’t above that criticism.
    And for people who think we should all just stay out of it, or not criticize it, why not? This woman has literally endangered the lives of her first six children, one of whom is special needs, to bring into the world eight more children that she is obviously and clearly unable to care for. In about five minutes those children are going to become wards of the state–as they should–because they are already at risk for neglect *just like the first six.*
    Sure, thanks to a history of racist and sexist eugenics in this country we ought to be especially suspicious of anti natalist policies. But that isn’t to say that the decision to bring children into this world, or the fate of children once the are here, isn’t one in which the state has no stake, or society either. This woman is certifiable, as is her doctor. The children ought to be granted a guardian at litem with the right to sue both the doctor and the mother for support. They ought to be taken away from her and given to adoptive families who have demonstrated the ability and the determination to care for one or two children. While we may have a hard time figuring out what laws to apply to a woman who wants to get pregnant in advance of the birth I don’ tthink there’s any question that once the children were in this world post birth that all the laws relating to child endangerment should apply to them.

  5. I am not going to criticize Suleman. She admitted to having an emotional problem – a need to have a huge family for emotional reasons. I’m sorry for her. But, the “doctor” who, for money reasons only, implanted so many fertilized eggs into her deserves all of our criticism.
    There are ethical guidelines that implantation clinics are supposed to follow, none of which is related to how much money they can make. This “doctor” violated those guidelines, and deserves whatever the consequences for doing so are. He took advantage of Ms Suleman because he could make money doing so. How does he differ from the Wall Street money manipulators who got us into the economic mess we are now in?

  6. What hoppy said. This woman should never have gotten past the psychological screening at the fertility clinic. She has a pathological need for children that is no different from the cat hoarders who live up to their elbows in shit or the wackos we get out here in WA who hoard horses and communally starve the poor beasts because they can’t afford to care for them. She is a kid collector, not a parent.
    It would be none of our business if she had any chance of raising these children in an adequate fashion, but these children are no less society’s responsibility than those cats or horses that are rescued from their owners. I do feel compassion for her mental illness, but she is an adult, and capable in most ways of functioning in society; it is the children who require our concern and diligence.
    And her doctor needs to lose his license.

  7. i have no idea of her race. if she didn’t want to remove a few of the litter fine, BUT THAT SHE ALREADY HAD KIDS AND MORE THAN 4???? one w/ autism? unmarried? she is nuts. clearly muchausen’s. she want attention or he is just insane. lonely? can i just call her a stupid bitch(it was a litter, eh?)?

  8. Well, I”m pleased to see you’re up to your usual standards of humanity, pansypoo.
    And Munchausens’ by proxy, which you so clumsily attempt to invoke, contains significant differential diagnosis parameters not met in this instance, among them the need to get attention by hurting another human being. So …
    Look, I think probably the woman and her mother have their hands full. I think probably the bills won’t go away, and unless the grandmother of the 14 kids wins the lottery and moves into Brentwood with a full staff then gets custody, the kids are all going to have a hard life.
    But 14 kids is NOT a plague. If, as I suspect, the grandmother doesn’t win the lottery, move into Brentwood with a full staff and get custody, look for California CPS to intervene sometime in the future. OR, just consider:
    Social services might intervene and get help for the mom in terms of reduced-cost child-care, her food stamp allotment might increase, and the publicity the octuplets generate might make enough money to support the family at above-poverty-level.
    Miracles happen, mostly when nobody’s watching, you know?

  9. I think she’s nuts and yeah, having that many kids is irresponsible
    it’s not my business and there is no law against it. If the court of public opinion starts judging every non-standard parent, then we are in trouble. The same things we are saying about her are said by others when they see two loving gay dads or moms, or the “pregnant man.”
    Public or “community” standards are always going to disadvantage someone.
    So something happens to her plans because she’s been publicized but what about the other six or 7 out of 10 non-suitable parental units in your neighborhood or your city or your state. ARe you going to search them out and report them to CPS?

  10. I can’t find much empathy for a family of grifters who profit from weird arbitrary choices.
    The mother and grandmother were both compensated for their interviews. They want the attention amidst the censure.
    Yes having that many children is shocking but having that many children with zero visible means of financial support than whoring out yourself as a ‘baby expert’ is a bit more out of control.
    No one held a gun to this woman’s head and said you must must must give birth to 8 babies at one time as opposed to finding a real career path to support the 6 kids you already have.
    Also if Ms. Suleman didn’t want any judgement, she could have kept her mouth shut.
    But I know in this hypercapitalistic moment, that’s just not possible when there’s money to be made.

  11. Personally, she sounds like one of the folks that SPCA folks call “collectors” and has 200 cats.
    That being said I couldn’t agree more that hatred, vile ridicule, etc. aren’t going to help her or the kids. Going to Jerry Springer meets Dr. Phil isn’t going to help.
    I compare a lot of the press coverage for her (and the folks on Jerry Springer / Dr. Phil/ etc.) as being the midieval morality play. We hold up a characature and purge our sins by yelling at the actors.

  12. to those who declare it “none of my business,” let me ask you a couple questions.
    1) do you have health insurance?
    she’s not paying that hospital delivery bill for those babies herself — an insurer is paying it. the bill is somewhere in the $1m range. and post-birth medical care for the octuplets is not going to be cheap.
    2) she made the choice to appear on television to promote herself and she has made it pretty clear that she plans on supporting herself by using the octuplets as a side show.
    she herself made her bizarre choice the business of anyone who cares.
    i find the entire episode revolting.

  13. I have paid very little attention, so maybe someone has, and i just didn’t hear the answer.
    But, has anyone asked her “Is this it? Are you done now? Or are you planning on having more?”

  14. it’s not my business and there is no law against it
    Actually, in medical terms, thereis a law against it. It’s called the “standard of care,” and whoever did the procedure on Ms. Suleiman was in gross violation of it, and should be censured and delicensed. There isno earthly reason why a young, healthy woman with a proven record of prior fertility should be getting more embryos implanted than is the current standard of care for women in that demographic — which is to sayone at a time.
    I don’t have anything to say about Ms. Suleiman, but I’d seriously like to punch her doctor’s face in, if for no other reason than that implanting eight embryos put Ms. Suleiman at significant risk of maternal mortality, and gave Ms. Suleiman’s previous children a high risk of becoming motherless.
    That’s seven kinds of immoral, unethical, and wrong right there.

  15. If it weren’t for the fact that California taxpayers are going to pay for these children, it wouldn’t be anybody’s business. But, alas, we are paying for them.
    The girl needs serious help, and I’d like to see that Doctor pay for a lot of it.

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