January 30, 2009

Keep your laws off my octuplets!

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've likely already seen the story of the Southern California who woman who gave birth to the world's first known surviving set of octuplets.

What you may not know, is that (no surprise) despite the family's plea for privacy, the vultures have been hard at work and have discovered that she already has (gasp!) six children, these babies were conceived (gasp!) via IVF, and that she's (wait for it........) a single mother living with her bankrupt parents.

"Where are the ethics??" scream the journos and the academics.  "How could you justify fertility treatment for a woman who already has a pack of kids?  Don't you have a MORAL OBLIGATION to keep a poor (reputedly on Medicaid), single woman from populating the planet with her bastards that the rest of us are going to have to support?"

There oughta be a law!  A law I tell ya! (read the comments here)

Well, there is a law.  Just not here.  I'm sure you've heard of China.

The selfsame "voices of the people" who decry this woman's choice to have a large family are the same folks who cry out bitterly about China's One Child policy.

Either fertility is regulated or it is not.  How many children is too many?  Is it a sliding scale based on your ability to pay for them?  If so, I'd wager most of us would have disappeared up the abortionist's vacuum tube.

Somehow they also fail to mention that if it's my choice to have a child or not, that includes BOTH outcomes: having the baby or not having the baby. The faceless critics lamenting this woman's "irresponsible choice" (a phrase uttered by a so-called Bio-Ethics expert during a news report this morning) are also the same crew lobbying so hard to keep abortion legal.

I'm sorry, but I thought "Keep your laws off my body" was an absolute.  Or does that just apply to the popular choices?

I haven't even touched the infertility aspect of this case.  Many of my dear friends struggle with infertility, some have pursued multiple courses of treatment.  Some, ultimately, decided that the pursuit was futile despite the deepest longings of their heart for a biological child.  Having seen the struggle that so many endure, it seems to me that any successful procedure resulting in a healthy baby is a win.  Perhaps those of you who have been down this road would like to chime in.

Certainly, it is a pertinent question, how will this mom support 14 children?  But how does a 14 year old support one baby?  How do two parents with two careers handle two or three small ones?  Raising kids is not easy for anyone at anytime.  14 children, including (reportedly) 2 with special needs and 8 infants presents a huge challenge, but that doesn't mean necessarily that the children will be neglected or hungry.  In fact, it's entirely possible that these 14 kids will be MUCH better off than some kids with only one or two siblings.

You can't have it both ways, either people get to choose the family they want, or they don't.  And if they don't, who makes the rules?  Based on what?

It works so well elsewhere, after all....

Posted by caltechgirl at January 30, 2009 11:47 AM | TrackBack

Excellent article, truly! If the parent is not able to care for the children at that point the state would step in and take them. But like you said... how do we know she can or can't? It's none of our dang business.

Posted by: pam at January 30, 2009 12:01 PM

Beautifully said. And quite right. Once you start trying to legislate this kind of thing - it's bad for everyone and you end up like China.

Of course I wonder where she got the money for IVF - is it covered under medicaid? I won't take anything the media says as being true - they have tipped their hand on how they feel about any children at all... So I'll just go back to my life and not worry about this woman... Imagine that - I'm going to walk away and let her live her own life!!!

Posted by: Teresa at January 30, 2009 02:03 PM

the local media have stated that the mom works at a fertility clinic. Insinuating, of course, that her bosses provided free services since IVF is NOT covered by Medicaid.

Posted by: caltechgirl at January 30, 2009 02:46 PM

Ouch. I'm split both ways on this. I'm totally against any government interference in this matter, but I hope to hell she's able to care for all of them. I have nothing but the utmost contempt for mothers who keep having children and don't take care of them (like my wife's niece). Either other family members have to pick up the slack, or they end up in foster care (almost the worst outcome). If they are going to continue having kids they have to take full responsibility for their raising and care.

Legal sanctions for a mother's irresponsibility? Probably. I think the niece should be breaking rocks until every last one of her kids (5 at last count) turn 18. But government dictating how many kids one can and cannot have? Sorry, that's how China handles things. Caltechgirl's argument wins.

Posted by: diamond dave at January 30, 2009 07:16 PM

I'm confused -- I went to the links but I only saw comments indicating that they thought the mother was irresponsible. Where are the "journos and the academics" who are screaming that the government should regulate the privacy of a woman's body? Though I think it *is* freaking irresponsible to have ANY child, one or six or eight, when you cannot not emotionally, physically, or financially support them, I don't know anyone who says (other than insane web people who I've never met) that there should be a law that regulates the number of children people can have in this country.

Posted by: SBC at January 31, 2009 08:03 AM

Did you even SEE the news? These talking heads were EVERYWHERE.

Posted by: caltechgirl at January 31, 2009 10:23 AM

I'll be honest, I don't watch the local news that much if at all. But I do watch CM, KO, and RM -- the liberal trifecta of talking heads -- and I don't remember them saying anything other than it happened and I can't even remember if all of them said the the births happened. Most of what I've been reading or seeing is about the stimulus bill anyway...

I remember a story on NBC saying that octuplets are at risk for a ton of health things (which is in fact GOOD that they reported on that)...maybe its on the morning shows? I mean, I can understand people talking about the responsibility of the woman the same way I can understand talking about the responsibility of teenage pregnancies but there were talking heads who said we should regulate how many children? Are these talking heads who are saying this on Fox?

But it sounds like that issue that people are having isn't so much about how many children can one have but should IVF procedures be cleared to someone that has more than double the average number of children per American household. It may be treated like organ donation where medical boards decide if people are either young enough or healthy enough for the procedure because even though IVF has a hefty bill at the end (so its usually a procedure only available to the upper middle class - rich groups), it still takes time and resources from other people. But that's going to be up to the individual hospitals and companies probably in the end...I would be surprised if it ever became a legal issue and I would imagine every *real* pro-choice woman would fight any regulation.

Posted by: SBC at January 31, 2009 03:10 PM

I completely agree that it's nobody's business as to how many children a person should be able to bring into this world, especially not the business of any government. BUT...

Prospective adoptive parents have to go through rigorous background checks, psychological, financial, etc., especially here in the United States, which is why so many end up going to China for their unwanted children. Why shouldn't there be some sort of the rigorous background checks for prospective in vitro fertilizations? Especially some serious looking into someone's psyche as to why after having experienced the thrill of parenthood 6 times over anyone needs to reproduce again. If it is so necessary to have even 1 more child, why not adopt? AND...

From what I have come to understand of this situation (just so happens this young woman lives in my hometown of Whittier) this mother of 14 children is not gainfully employed as she is a full-time college student, nor is there a father in the picture. I would assume (and I'm sure the media will dredge this up eventually) that the mother subsists on Welfare. God only knows how she can afford the in vitro process.

I was on Welfare years ago while trying to raise my 1 and only child after my divorce. I was 32 at the time (I had been had been gainfully employed and paid taxes since I was 16 years old), and I knew full well that I was at the government's mercy as to my personal life. I had to show bank statements, receipts from my utilities, receipts for childcare, and I was told that I could be investigated at any time, meaning they could come into my home, look in my cupboards, interview my neighbors, whatever.

So the media is doing to this woman what they should have done to our new president, and yes, in comparison, that is wrong on so many levels it boggles the mind. But once you put yourself in a position of being scrutinized whether for public office or for personal gain via benefit of living off of tax payer's dollars, all bets are off.

God bless her for not "selectively harvesting" 6 or 7 of these babies, but all in all, someone needs to take a hard look at the mindset of someone who needs to bear 6, 7, or 14 children when there are so many little one's who need homes.

Sorry to go on so long. Kind of a heated subject for me since speaking to several family members and friends who live in Whittier.

Posted by: My Awesome Mix Tape #6 at January 31, 2009 07:02 PM

I didn't comment when you first posted because my initial snarky thought was that she did it so she could become a TV star and make money that way b/c of her huge family. Appears that is, in fact, the case.

To me that makes a big difference - I don't care how many kids you have, 1 or 15 or 25, you shouldn't be doing it in hopes of getting endorsement deals. Kids shouldn't be bargaining chips for career moves.

Posted by: beth at February 3, 2009 10:29 AM

I second that motion.

Posted by: Lauren at February 6, 2009 10:30 AM