Eight Is Not Enough? The Big Families We Love to Hate


It’s often a funny thing when right and left agree, as did
many vocal commentators across the ideological spectrum this week in condemning
Nadya Suleman, the mother of the California octuplets conceived by in vitro
fertilization and delivered last week by a team of 46 doctors and nurses. Such
a large number of multiple births is so rare, many media reports pointed out, that
only one previous example of octuplets exists in U.S history. It’s also so rare
that Microsoft Word’s spellcheck doesn’t recognize the word "octuplet," as
several online commenters reported. This response in itself, speaking to the
volumes of Internet opinionating the octuplets have inspired, gives some indication
of how completely the controversy has transformed from a story based in solid facts
- of which there are still very few so far – into the latest projection screen
for fertility and childbirth controversies.  

Big Families We Love, and Love to Hate

Nadya Suleman’s interview with Ann Curry on the Today Show

Suleman’s newborns were delivered, as it were, into a pop cultural moment of preoccupation with large
families. Reality TV shows about families with many children abound on TV’s TLC
channel, most notably with the chronicles of the 18-child Duggar family. That the Duggars are grounded in and motivated by the pro-patriarchy Quiverfull movement, with its
emphasis on female submission and male headship, is breezily dispensed with in
favor of dwelling on the sentimental and zany experiences of life in a
20-person family. "Jon and Kate Plus Eight," another reality TV show about a
large family – this one the result of sextuplets born to a mother who, like
Suleman, chose not to selectively reduce the number of embryos that "took"
during an IVF treatment – is less burdened by the extremist ideology that
undergirds the Duggars’ convictions, but still presents a traditional picture
of large family life, with married heterosexual parents and a stay-at-home
mother. Though it’s now impossible to separate the public reaction to Suleman’s
delivery from the swirl of facts and speculation about her motivations and
mental health, it seems clear enough that much of the ire directed at her is
due to her unorthodox family situation and her singleness most of all. While
many observers are concerned with her apparent inability to support such a
large family, the fact that she is unmarried has alone been cause enough for others
to declare her family a situation of de facto child abuse. 

Finding the Facts

Probably most readers know what there is to know about the
story so far – what there is to know limited by the fact that Suleman hasn’t talked
publicly about her pregnancy. What is left are slivers of information from interviews
with family members and neighbors. Nadya Suleman, a single mother and unemployed
student with a degree in child and
adolescent development, was an only child, and always wanted a large family.
According to some, she aimed for 12 children in total, or maybe, after the six
she already had through IVF, just one more girl. Her parents apparently
recently declared bankruptcy, and moved with Suleman into a 3-bedroom house
they’d bought for her, where they helped her care for her already-large family.
When controversy erupted, Suleman quickly retained a spokeswoman, which, with
her reported target of a $2 million appearance on Oprah, sealed her public
persona as American villain rather than American sweetheart. Sadder facts of
the story include the interviews with Suleman’s mother, Angela Suleman, who has
hinted at possible mental illness in her daughter by venting her frustration
with her daughter’s "obsession" with children. Another poignant detail is the
report that Suleman’s father, reportedly a Palestinian-born linguist, may have to
return to a contract position in Iraq to raise money for the care of his
daughter’s 14-child family. 

When "Miracle News" Sours

After a brief moment
of "miracle news" coverage when the successful delivery was first announced,
criticism of Suleman and her unnamed doctors began to mount from across the
ideological spectrum. The hospital where she delivered reported receiving
numerous calls demanding that their medical license be revoked and even several
from people wishing the Suleman babies wouldn’t survive. More common were the
concerns, on the left, that the children would be neglected or that they
constituted an environmentally hazardous selfishness, and on the right, the
charge that Suleman was the end result of a culture that condones single parenthood and
glorifies individual choice above all other considerations. 

Individual choice
didn’t seem to be a particular concern throughout the debate though, which has
been marked by highly moralistic overtones in discussing whether or not
Suleman’s pregnancy should have been "allowed" to take place. On liberal websites, a surprising hostility to Suleman’s right to have made such reproductive decisions has been common, taking issue with whether Suleman was entitled to choose to have so many children in her circumstances, seeming to embrace a sort of anti-choice rhetoric. (Though it’s worth noting that OB-GYN Amy Tuteur, writing on Salon, makes a convincing argument for limiting “right to choose” analogies, as endless comparisons to abortion rights only serve to distort discussions of medical ethics.) And on some conservative websites, there has been an equally surprising insistence that
Suleman should have been forced to abort some of the embryos. A number of
fertility doctors contacted to give expert opinions seemed to rush to distance
themselves from what one bioethicist, M. Sara Rosenthal, called an "outrageous"
breach of medical protocol. While the implantation of eight embryos, if it did
occur – and this seems up for debate as well, as
Angela Suleman told the AP that "far fewer" than eight embryos were implanted
in her daughter, and that they then apparently multiplied – would certainly be beyond the pale by almost
all medical standards, some of the pronouncements of fertility ethics had an
unsettling whiff of paternalism. One article discussed how responsible doctors
may have to "simply
[say] no
," to women seeking multiple implantations in order to "be a strong
and responsible advocate for moms and babies." In an interview with CNN,
Rosenthal raised the neonatalist theory that women may not have the emotional capacity to make proper decisions when informed about
the risks of premature births due to the distress such news may cause them. 

What’s Desirable vs. What’s Allowed

This sort of language and
reasoning, at least taking place as a debate in the non-expert arena of the
media, seems too familiar for
comfort
, echoing the sort of anti-abortion rhetoric Justice Anthony Kennedy
relied upon in the 2007 Carhart case:
that abortion is not a crime women commit, but one they need to be protected
from by those who know better. The danger of slipping into that territory, of
empowering doctors to determine women’s reproductive best interests, seems
enough justification to allow for cases that offend public sensibility. As Sean
Tipton, spokesman for the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, explained,
"A number of commentators are saying a woman with six
kids should not be allowed medical treatment to have additional ones, and I
think, at a common sense level, that makes good sense. However, to make that
work, that means someone is going to start deciding for other people how, when
and why they can have children. That’s a very big step and one that we might
not be prepared to take." 

But in contrast to
that reasonable estimation of the difference between what’s desirable and
what’s allowed, is the overlap of criticism between camps that would normally
be at ideological ends. Both conservative and liberal commenters loudly
wondered who, in this moment of financial meltdown, was going to pay for all of
this. Right-wing California shock jock Bill Handel declared the births
"freakish," and announced
that people were "ready to boycott any corporations that help the octuplets or
their mother." Likewise, commenters
discussing the story on liberal site Huffington Post suggested that if Oprah
did host Suleman on her show, viewers should boycott Oprah as well. (Neither side
should likely worry, as the AP reported on the snubbing response of Pampers and
Gerbers officials, who donated little or nothing to the Suleman family.
Television station TLC has said that, while it has contacted the Sulemans about
television opportunities, it’s holding off any production decisions until they
determine how "TV-friendly" the family proves.) A comment thread
title on Yelp summed up the sentiment of many: "Octuplets born in
Bellflower, she better not be on Welfare!!" 

Indeed, a number of
feminist writers remarked on how closely the outrage over Suleman mirrored old
"welfare queen" tropes, where large families weren’t seen as miraculous or a Cheaper By the Dozen adventure – as more
traditionalistic large families are often portrayed on TV and in popular media
- but as burdens to the state, brought on by an irresponsible mother. Lynn
Paltrow, Executive Director of the National Advocates for Pregnant
Women, told Salon’s Broadsheet
that perceived race of mothers was often a key component of how stories of
large families were treated in the media. "When the pregnant woman is not brown
or black and the drugs/technologies are provided by big pharma, the discussion
focuses on questions of ethics. But if the issue is childbearing by low-income
women of color, and the drug is homegrown/illegal then the debate is a
question of punishment through the criminal justice or civil child welfare
system." 

This angle was sadly
confirmed by some blog
comments speculating whether the name "Suleman" had a "very ethnic ring to it -
Middle Eastern in fact." Conservative blogger Phyllis Chesler took these
insinuations a few
steps farther
, swiftly dispatching with the makeup of America’s most prominent
pronatalist activists – complementarian conservative Chrsitians – to hang the
mantle of over-the-top procreation on fundamentalist Mormon polygamists and
Muslims (whom she refers to as "outlawed, break-away Mormon and law-abiding
Muslim men," in case her meaning isn’t clear). After noting that "Osama bin
Laden’s father had 57 children," Chesler wonders whether Suleman’s ethnicity is
determining her family size, writing, "Once this gets out-will she become a
poster child/mother for….free baby formula and diapers? Or for Jihad?" 

More commonly, the
indictments were more subtle, as characterized by Townhall conservative
columnist Mona Charen, whose reaction was to blame the octuplets on
as-yet-unmarried California Representative Linda Sanchez, who announced her
pregnancy last November. 

Different Judgments for Different Families

Jill
Stanek
, a veteran anti-choice activist who opposes IVF, condemned Suleman
as well, albeit somewhat reluctantly. "The question I’m hearing often asked,
‘Can one have too many children?’" she wrote, "is wrong. No, one cannot.
But God didn’t intend for human mothers to give birth to litters, particularly
with no husbands in sight. It’s unnatural on all levels." 

Some of Stanek’s ardently
anti-abortion readers were harsher, with one declaring that "[Suleman's] mentality is abortion mentality: ‘I will
decide who lives, who dies, when I have children.’ I bet she isn’t even
infertile!" the writer continued, "Just hates men!" This level of vitriol
sparked Stanek to defend Suleman, and to come to the surprising defense that "sexism
at play here. Were Suleman married, no one would be questioning her motive for
becoming pregnant with multiples." 

That’s not quite true. The large families promoted most ardently by the pronatalist “Quiverfull” wing of the anti-abortion movement strongly emphasize the importance of not planning one’s family – either by limiting it or artificially enlarging it – viewing such self-determination, even in the interests of growing a family, as the root of the reproductive choices they condemn. Though certainly many would be more accepting of a large family that had IVF children than they are of those who choose contraception or abortion, most hold, as one of Stanek’s commenters writes, that "If one believes as I do that God determines fertility, then one believes that in a proper husband-wife relationship God will supply a large family’s needs."

Among the movement
of purposefully very large families in the U.S., this is the predominant conviction, almost universally accompanied by an extreme traditionalism in marriage roles that holds women’s prolific fertility up
not as one option to choose but as the only righteous path for true believers.
Suleman’s family size may approximate that of the Duggars and other families at
the forefront of a theological movement that stresses traditional gender roles
above all other concerns, but that is likely where the resemblance ends. In
terms of reproductive matters of national concern, one woman’s idiosyncratic
and likely tragic choices seem to pale beside a movement that insists on
similarly large and labor-intensive broods of children for women and raises
daughters to see this as the only blueprint for their lives. It says something
about where we are as a country that the former isolated case attracts more
concern than the existence of the latter as a growing movement.

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  • http://davidlevitt.com invalid-0

    When I read about the octuplets being born, I was amazed, at first. Then, thinking more about how they were IVF and that she had other children, it actually made me upset. Upset that her doctors would even consider IVF – this just screams I want to be known for something, and it’s not fair for those children.

  • invalid-0

    I can see how someone could interpret criticism of the doctors as dismissive of the mothers own responsibility, and insultingly condescending, but I think the malpractice issue comes into play too. Dr’s take on a lot of responsibility when they treat anyone at all. So its not unreasonable that some of the responsibility falls to them, and if the woman’s mother is right that there is a mental health issue at play shouldn’t the Dr’s have considered that too?

  • alexm

    Thank you for this.  I have been hoping and waiting for this site to publish an article like this on the octuplets!

    The personal is political.

  • invalid-0

    One thing that has struck me in the discussion that I have read, is that few people have posed questions about how her other six children are doing. It makes me uncomfortable to think that there are six children who are probably suddenly not going to be getting the parental attention they deserve.

  • invalid-0

    Thank you for a thoughtful post. I am particularly fond your closing concerning the fact more people are upset by this isolated case than by the QF movement and I think the mother’s ethnicity and marital status have MUCH to do with that. The underlying patriarchal nature of our society supports larger TRADITIONAL families, but penalizes any woman who bears children outside of that structure.

    However, as an environmentalist, what troubles me most is the lack of discussion concerning sustainability and population control. This is an isolated case, but it should be used to finally discuss the elephant in the room. Women must be able to limit the number of children they bear to a number sustainable by our planet. This number is 2 children per family – otherwise known as ZERO population growth.

    Several families in my daughter’s school have 4 + childern. These are white, affluent families not using any aids to feritilization and some even using contraceptives to space the children. This is seen as acceptable and even desirable as they are financially and mentally capable of raising the children (as well as being white and christian). However, I find more than two children per family morally unacceptable. It seems selfish and irresponsible given our current ecological situation. What catastrophe will it take for the concept of limiting conception to become the MORALLY correct thing to do?

  • invalid-0

    Thanks so much for posting this. I too have become increasingly concerned about the “Quiverfull” movement’s impact on our country’s culture. I’ve watch the Duggar’s show on TLC before and to me it is disturbing. While I know homeschooling is a great option for some families, it seems the Duggars practice it to isolate their children from seeing independent women and deny them science education. It’s very troubling.

  • invalid-0

    She has filed fraudulent student loan applications which the California State University System will soon reviewing. Additionally Suleman received more than $160,000.00 dollars in disability payments.

    Our organization will also be in touch with the IRS for fraudulent tax filings and also the INS for improper alien status.

  • therealistmom

    My biggest "peeve" (not the right word, but it’s late) with the situation is with the irresponsibility involved in such a high risk multiple pregnancy. I can’t, as a woman who strongly believes in bodily autonomy, think she should somehow be forced NOT to have her children, but I CAN question her motivations and those of the physicians who seem to have not had her health and those of the infants in mind. I can’t comprehend willingly and deliberately placing babies into such a high risk category for disabilities.  I can’t see it as ethical in any way to implant multiple embryos into a woman who has already demonstrated the ability to carry multiple times. Choices or no, the human female was not designed to support this many fetuses to term, and knowing this, knowing the horrible risks involved in extreme prematurity or very small birth weight, they went forward anyway. I simply can’t find it a cause for celebration, except in the "so far so good" sort of way.

  • invalid-0

    Nadya Suleman is a single 33 year old unemployed woman with six fatherless children (one of whom has autism) who lives with her bankrupt parents and intentionally had 8 more children who will probably have long term medical problems themselves due to her stupid decisions. Who’s going to pay for these 14 children? The bankrupt grandparents???

    Though public records show that Nadya Suleman was on the payroll at Metropolitan State Hospital until last year, it appears that she did little work (if any) after September 1999 due to a workman’s compensation injury (back injury and psychiatric condition) in which she’s received up to $165,000 in compensation. She filed an additional claim for worker’s compensation for a separate car accident in which she argued that this car accident wouldn’t have occurred had she not been going for medical treatment for the earlier worker’s comp. injury.

    Currently Nadya Suleman and her 14 children will need to be supported by taxpayers for at least the next 18 years. Given her “history”, I’m sure she knows full well how to fund her large family and her stupid decisions.

  • invalid-0

    I don’t know whether I am more outraged by the child abuse angle of octuplets or the taxpayers will be paying for these children forever angle. It is child abuse pure and simple to implant multiple embryos, an ELECTIVE procedure, when the medical literature is clear that there will be medical problems. In my opinion, both doctor and mother are guilty of child abuse and child endangerment. I also am tired of hearing that women having the ‘right’ to as many children as they want. I know way too many women who would like more children but don’t have them because they realize they can’t afford them. Why should they pay for someone else to have the children they can’t afford?

  • invalid-0

    Amen!! You are CORRECT! We need to curb overpopulation! It’s best if we do it voluntarily here in the West, so we never have to resort to forced population control as in China.

  • invalid-0

    It seems interesting that so many of these disappointed and outraged comments are coming from annonymous posters

  • invalid-0

    Would it be better if we decided it were illegal and criminal to have more than 2 children, and force (and have taxpayers pay) for abortions?

  • colleen

    I’m trying to get out of the house and to work right now but just wanted to comment that noone, outside of your imagination, has suggested forced abortion .

    However I see no reason to continue to  reward those who have more children than they can afford to properly care for with tax deductions etc and I certainly see no reason to continue subsidizing with federal monies entire polygamous towns in, say, Utah, Arizona, Colorado or Texas at all.

     

  • invalid-0

    Jon & Kate’s kids were the result of IUI cycles, not IVF. BIG difference.

  • invalid-0

    Property taxes pay for public schools. I am single with no children and pay property taxes. If her children go to public schools I will be subsidizing her income. How is that equitable? I support public education and happily pay taxes to support it. Raise her property taxes and eliminate child tax deductions. Make her responsible for her actions not the public. She’s living in the past like the farmers that needed large families. But they supported themselves.

  • invalid-0

    I’m sorry but Americans are not even producing enough children to MAINTAIN the numbers we need to keep our population level. Large families are the only reason we are even keeping up a sustainable level of population in this country.

    Also, if YOU don’t want more children, don’t have them. But, I find it SO amusing that all the pro-choice people, the environmentalist and such find it only good for the goose. But, if the gander wants to CHOOSE to have a large family or NOT limit their family size, then they are pegged as immoral, criminal, stupid and selfish.

    Please!! Children are a blessing. Children are the one thing that can take a totally selfish, self-centered, preachy adult and bring them to their knees. Children are the greatest treasure of this world and they should not be limited but embraced. Children are a chance to build the future and get outside yourself.

    Just remember when you are collecting your social security in your old age, the people that will be supporting you are the children that grew up in large families. Large families in America are supplying the future workers that will keep our way of life afloat in the future.

    The next time you are out, how about stopping a large family and thanking them for supporting you in your old age?

  • invalid-0

    I hope she gets nailed on the disability fraud.

    I also hope the kids go to a loving, supportive, capable family or families.

  • invalid-0

    I’m more concerned about these kids. I think it’s ridiculous that people are imposing their moral views on companies to keep them from offering support to the family. They’re only hurting these kids!! Those kids need those diapers, bottles, food, etc.

  • invalid-0

    Do you have anything to back this claim up? I heard on the Today show this morning that Suleman was injured in a riot at a mental health facility that she used to work at. Sounds legit to me.

  • invalid-0

    Thanks for this great perspective on the octuplets’ media coverage, and the images of large families in the US. I made a similar point on another blog earlier today – when Nadya Suleman has 14 kids, it’s an obsession, but when Michelle Duggar has 18 kids, it’s zany and fun and gets a TV show.

    I also agree with CMyers – there’s something terribly mean-spirited about the threats to boycott any company that helps this family out. Say what you will about Suleman’s choices, but boycotts will only hurt 8 medically fragile babies.

  • invalid-0

    “Children are the one thing that can take a totally selfish, self-centered, preachy adult and bring them to their knees.”

    WHAT PLANET ARE YOU FROM?? There are PLENTY of DEADBEATS out there who walk out on their children, and my parents are prime examples. There are plenty of kids out there in the foster care system to show that your theory is not based on reality. Open your eyes. Children have the power to change NO ONE and nothing.

    That being said, concerning Suleman: She’s playing the system. She’s already talking doing interviews and talking about book deals, for crying out loud. And tell me, “anonymous,” what about her 6 other kids? Who’s watching them? GRANDMA.

    As someone who was raised by her grandmother, because my birth mother wasn’t going to be bothered, I find this whole situation reprehensible.

  • invalid-0

    If I were living near Whittier, CA, and not already up to my ears in grandchildren, I would volunteer, gladly, to help Nadya Suleman, by helping set up the huge nursery, and help organize it, and holding and feeding and rocking babies. There is nothing more satisfying. I hope some others will come forward and do that. Her friends say she is a very excellent mother. What’s wrong with wanting to help her do her overwhelming job? It doesn’t sound like her own mother is up for it.
    When I was a single parent I remember being extremely angry and a woman who was going to become a parent without a husband. I told her how hard it was. But no one can really understand what it means to not be able to “natually” conceive children, except those who cannot.
    Nadya did not set out to do “this”. But here it is! Hope for the best for her, and for all for whom parenting is overwhelming (and for what I can observe, there are lots of folks in this category!)

  • invalid-0

    It’s a good thing that her now-bankrupt parents GAVE this spoiled brat a house, because she would have trouble renting an apartment with her large brood. Where I live, many landlords allow a family of only a certain size to rent an apartment of a certain size (e.g. a family of 4 for a 2-bedroom apartment).

    IMHO the doctor who implanted 6 (?) embryos at once committed malpractice. The norm is to implant only 2 or 3 at the most. Humans weren’t designed to spew out litters like cats or dogs. (Hint: how many breasts do humans have?) With multiples, there is a much-increased risk of medical problems. Can you imagine if all 8 babies ended up blind, mentally retarded, and with cerebral palsy? This is in addition to her one of her first 6 who is autistic. How long do you think it will be before Social Services has to take away some of her brood?

    Her mother has been helping with the first 6 but says that now there are too many and hinted that she will help no more. After her medical bills, she’ll have no money to support the kids, no time to handle them all, etc. What a loser. It came out that she has mental problems. You think?!

    Maybe she can sue the incompetent plastic surgeon who cut off half her nose and gave her jumbo rubber lips. Then she can buy formula and diapers. She must have been trying to imitate Angelina Jolie, but forgot one thing: Angelina Jolie actually has an income to support HER family.

  • invalid-0

    If you have a legitimate disability for a back injury you don’t go and carry 6 pregnancies two of which were multiples. If your back is healthy enough to withstand this then your back is healthy enough to have a job!!! She had all of these children while she was claiming that she was claiming disabilty

  • invalid-0

    The woman who gave birth to them is the one hurting them. Why should anybody but her be asked to support them since she CHOSE to have them. Except maybe the Drs. who implanted her going against all the ethics of their profession.
    I chose to have my son and didn’t expect Pampers or Gerber to subsidize it. Thats why I only have 1 child now. I would like to have another but I’m not going to right now because I CANT AFFORD TO SUPPORT ANOTHER ONE!!!! She chose to be implanted with 6 (!!!!) embryo’s full well knowing the possible out come and risk’s involved with it. It wasn’t an accident or a miracle it was a diliberate act of selfishness from a woman that obviously suffers from some kind of severe narsassistic mental disorder. She said “They were all mine so of course I was going to use them even knowing what might happen.” I find the word “use” very interesting in this context
    If you really care about the care both mental and physical well being of these 8 children and the 6 that she already has you will be demanding that the California child protective services do a thorough mental evalution of her and asess the physical danger of these children. Come on now any sane rational adult knows that it is tough enough to support 1,2, or 4 young children. I’m not talking just financially. I really don’t see how 1, or even 2 parents can physically take care of 14 chlidren all under the age of 8. One of which is already diabled and realistically at least a few of the newborns will be as well to some degree or another. Even if she had all the money in the world she doesn’t have all the time. She is quoted as saying that she holds each child 45 minutes a day. I spend more quality time with my dog.
    Being kept in diapers are the least of these childrens problems. What is worrisome is the fact that they are going to be raised by someone who is very obviously mentally unsound and thinks only of her own desires without any thought or concern of the impact her selfish desires might have on anyone else especially these children

  • invalid-0

    She was injured at the mental health facility in 1999 and filed a claim. She filed another claim in 2001 after a car accident.
    She paid for the fertility treatments with the disability money.
    So, let’s review. A woman who cannot work and support her six children pays for expensive fertility treatments with disability money she received for a bad back and has 8 more children, none of which she can afford to feed and house and social conservatives are pleased.

  • invalid-0

    I had 5 kids total, 3 kids in one year, one born in Feb. and twins in November in the same year. I had no intentions of having anymore after my twins, I was on birth control but still got pregnant. I would of loved to have more kids, but I thought to myself, How am I going to afford the kids I have. I didn’t want my kids to suffer. I am married, my husband works I have 2 jobs and I am going to school so I don’t have to work 2 jobs anymore. I had my family and we are buying our own house, we bought our own mini van so we can move around with our kids. Times were tough but we made it without any “public assistance”. I had these kids not society. I have to pay for my kids not anyone else. I blame “public assistance”. I work at a school and schools publicise to young girls don’t have kids, but if you do there is help for you. That’s why these young girls have kids. Ms. Suliman had these kids out of selfishness, she does not love these kids like she claims she does. Who is going to take care of these kids financially, the people left who still have jobs. Is this why we are a “Free” country? so women like her can freely have as many kids as they want when they are being taken care of by the tax payers. this has to stop. I love children but if you want a family, plan them. Don’t just expect to get handouts. We are living different difficult times now. I have 3 kids graduating high school in 2010 and I am not expecting for someone to send them to college, that’s what their dad and I have to do. Not anyone else. I hope other women are learning from this. I pray for those children and pray that ms. Sulieman go and get her head examined. peace out. god bless

  • invalid-0

    I work at a school and schools publicise to young girls don’t have kids, but if you do there is help for you. That’s why these young girls have kids.

    Excuse me, but this is remarkably ignorant. The reasons why some adolescent girls choose to have children are too complex for a short comment, but suffice it to say they don’t do it for the thrill of receiving public assistance. In the absence of government programs, those girls whose families would not or could not step up to support them would often turn to prostitution.

    This is a very old story, one that didn’t begin with the invention of Welfare. “Getting tough” with these girls may help vent your understandable frustration, but it doesn’t address the real problem. The circumstances that bring them into this situation at such a young age are already far tougher than any welfare regulation.

  • invalid-0

    Nadya Suleman went on workers compensation disability back in 1999 (at age 23) due to a work-related back injury (in which she filed 2 different workers compensation claims, one of which netted her $168,000). For the past 10 years though she’s been receiving disability payments and unable to work, she’s been able to undergo several IVF treatments and have 14 children. Since disability payments generally aren’t counted as income (or taxed), she’s also likely been able to receive welfare for each of her 6 children.

    This woman has been living off the system for most of her adult life and will continue to do so at taxpayer’s expense.

  • invalid-0

    Then you take care of these young girls planning to have kids. I may have worded this wrong. But I am at meetings and I hear it day in and day out.
    There are family planning programs for these young girls to think about wanting to have kids at a young age. But girls these days do not care, why because they come from broken home families and are not educated at home to understand the they should educate themselves. These girls are walking around on campus kissing and allowing for boys there age touch them in front of other children. And staff the come and go talk to these girls and their families to help them find ways of keeping busy and to help these young girls motivate themselves to study, day in and day out. However these girls don’t want to study. They think it’s cute to have a baby, but do not realize the work that is involved and that’s where the “WELFARE” kicks in because it’s available. “Hello”. You need to volunteer at a school so you can find out for yourself. IF YOU FEEL THAT THE OCTUPLETS MOM MADE A RIGHT UNSELFISH DECISION, THEN WHY DON’T YOU AND ALL THE PEOPLE WHO DO AGREE WITH HER, TAKE CARE OF HER AND HER CHILDREN??

  • invalid-0

    The last post said it all. This mom has been living off the system for most of her adult life and will continue to do so at taxpayer’s expense.

    So DaveL what do you think about that? Or should only your tax dollard be used to financially care for this woman and her brood. Afterall, she is single.

    What about the Dr. let him support her.
    This young lady during her interview sits there and has a look on her face like, I have no worry at, all my children and I will be well taken care of.

  • invalid-0

    Then you take care of these young girls planning to have kids

    Oh, I do. I pay my taxes, thank you very much. I just wish more effort would be directed towards prevention rather than reactionary shrieking.

    But girls these days do not care

    It isn’t just “girls these days”. It is not a new phenomenon. Why don’t they care? Because welfare exists? Hardly.

    why because they come from broken home families

    Full Stop. You’ve finally put your finger on the heart of the problem. There’s no further need to demonize them or public assistance programs. If we don’t want these girls becoming mothers before they’re ready, we need to address the abuse they’ve faced, their perceived lack of self-worth, and their (often very real) lack of opportunity.

    However these girls don’t want to study. They think it’s cute to have a baby, but do not realize the work that is involved and that’s where the “WELFARE” kicks in because it’s available.

    And if it weren’t? Do you think that would stop them? History tells us it would not. It tells us we would continue to have underage mothers, forever consigned to be marginalized and exploited.

    BTW, I never said I thought Ms. Suleman made a good decision. In fact, I made no other commentary than to take you to task for your facile claim that welfare is to blame for underage motherhood.

  • invalid-0

    1.) I don’t think she made a good decision in carrying eight embryos to term. I’ve said before that pregnancy is hard on the body; a multiple-embryo pregnancy is that much harder.
    .
    2.) That being said, I do find the venom being directed at her to be ironic in the extreme. If by chance she had naturally conceived octuplets and wanted to selectively reduce (abort) some of them, some of the same people here would be shrieking that they didn’t want their tax dollars to support abortion and family planning. Furthermore, the person above who wanted to get Child Protective Services involved would probably still want them involved, on grounds that she was somehow unfit for wanting to control the size of her family.
    .
    3.) A cynical person might say that the issue of religion (sin of abortion versus biblical injunction to be fruitful) is less of an issue here than people not wanting to give up $$$$.

  • invalid-0

    I can understand why the big name companies like Gerbers and Huggies may not want to associate themselves with Suleman for fear of being boycotted. But I want to ask people this – who suffers there? It’s the kids. They won’t have diapers or be fed adequately. I have no problem with Suleman herself being held up to scrutiny for her actions – from what we know it certainly seems irresponsible – however, to punish children because you disagree with their mother is absolutely immoral. I really do hope that Huggies and Gerbers change their mind to help out those kids.

  • invalid-0

    And there you see the pro-life mentality. They really aren’t interested in the babies after they’re born; it’s all about punishing the mother. How else could you possibly advocate boycotting a company that wants to help kids?

  • invalid-0

    I’d say your comment screams speculation and ignorance. Doctors have no right to refuse a womyn IVF because she already has children. Having children is a personal choice. And if you research the statistics behind the chances of embryos actually taking once implanted, you’d see that it was more probable she could have only one child than the chances of her having 8 children. Would I choose to have that many children? NO. Do I think it is good for the environment? NO.

    The problem I have here is the media’s emphasis is being put on speculations made, rather than any real facts. No one is talking about her medical problems which had led to her getting fertility treatments, that she has always dreamed of a large family and had preserved her eggs, worked long hard ours to save money for the IVF treatments. It’s just becoming another way for the media to perpetuate the scrutiny of womyn who choose for them selves what to do with their bodies and use their reproductive freedoms.
    A single mom can’t have a large family w/o deep criticism and strong allegations, but a heterosexual couple can?

    I think you see where this is going.

  • invalid-0

    Doctors have no right to refuse a womyn IVF because she already has children. Having children is a personal choice. And if you research the statistics behind the chances of embryos actually taking once implanted, you’d see that it was more probable she could have only one child than the chances of her having 8 children. Would I choose to have that many children? NO. Do I think it is good for the environment? NO.

    The problem I have here is the media’s emphasis is being put on speculations made, rather than any real facts. No one is talking about her medical problems which had led to her getting fertility treatments, that she has always dreamed of a large family and had preserved her eggs, worked long hard ours to save money for the IVF treatments. It’s just becoming another way for the media to perpetuate the scrutiny of womyn who choose for them selves what to do with their bodies and use their reproductive freedoms.
    A single mom can’t have a large family w/o deep criticism and strong allegations, but a heterosexual couple can?

    I think you see where this is going.

  • invalid-0

    You have to be joking or seriously mentally impaired. Suleman admitted she already had six children. For most people more than three children is considered to be a huge family. She didn’t work long hard hours for the IVF treatment. She used a disability check for that procedures. She saved money (if any) by living off her mother.
    I hope she ends up with her children taken away and in jail for the fraudulent disability claim. I hope your ignorant statement above goes to haunt you for being so stupid. You must be a truly one sided mind. The ignorant mind seems to know no limits.

  • invalid-0

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    I don’t really care if it is a single mother, a couple (heterosexual or
    homosexual) or a threesome…. if they cannot afford the cost of
    raising children they shouldn’t bring them into the world.

    She saved HER MONEY for the IVF treatments? Where did she get HER
    money? From people that actually EARN their money and pay taxes… the
    taxpayers.

    From “ target="_blank">A couple of points“. “If by chance
    she had naturally conceived”.

    (What are the odds?)

    She shouldn’t “conceive” anything that she can’t pay for. What has
    happened to the concept of personal accountability?


  • invalid-0

    What’s the difference between posting as Anonymous, real name or some stripper stage name like “Misty Dawn” or “Crystal Dawn”?

  • invalid-0

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    I don’t know the facts behind Michelle Duggar having 18 kids. Even if I
    assume her and her husband have the financial means to provide for
    their brood, I personally believe that they have about 16 too many.

    Without researching the Duggar’s I’m going to bet that there are at
    least two very big differences. One is that Michelle Duggar didn’t file
    a Workman’s Comp claim then used the excuse that her injury was the
    only reason that she was driving the day she had a car accident so she
    deserves even more money that she didn’t work for.

    So difference # 1 would be Nadya = on the take, working the system and
    freeloading on the public. Michelle = not freeloading on the public.

    Difference # 2: Even with 18 kids, I doubt Michelle had 6 embryos
    implanted then carried 8 to term.

    While Michelle Duggar has way too many children according to many
    opinions posted here, she isn’t doing it at the expense of the public.

    “The average age of the world’s great civilizations has been two
    hundred years. These nations have progressed through the following
    sequence: From bondage to spiritual faith, from spiritual faith to
    great courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from
    abundance to selfishness, from selfishness to complacency, from
    complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependency, from dependency back
    to bondage.”
    ~Alexander Tyler

  • invalid-0

    It makes me sad to see quite how vitriolic these comments are, including attacks on Miss Suleman’s appearance, morals and citizenship status which seem variously irrelevant, subjective and unfounded.

    I think that the situation in which IVF octuplets are created does need some changes made to it but not banning women from recieving IVF treatment after they have a certain number of children. Instead, as in Europe, I think there should be curbs on the number of embryos that can be implanted in one cycle as having multiples always carries greater risk for both mother and children.

    The current system plays upon women who are desperate to have children and are encouraged to increase their chances by having an excessive number of embryos implanted. I have no idea what Miss Suleman’s stance on abortion in is and frankly, nor do I care, but I don’t think that doctors should knowingly put women in the position where octuplets are a possibility.

  • invalid-0

    I agreed with what you said up until the part about having more than two kids is selfish; that doesn’t sound pro-choice to me. i do agree that a better choice would have been to focus on her six kids and providing for her and her family then have more kids once they were older and she could afford it. kids should be in a home in which they are physically and emotionally provided for.

  • invalid-0

    The thing that is not being mentioned is that all 6 of Suleman’s earlier kids were conceived by IVF also. When is enough ENOUGH?????????

  • invalid-0

    Thank you for pointing out the obvious! I have been talking about this elephant in the room since the 70′s and find it amazing that NOBODY talks about population control any more! Once in a while I’ll see a program on TV on an obscure station talking about how this planet cannot sustain the human population as it continues to quadruple every few years. This silence began with Reagon and continued through Bush. We are not allowed to talk to teenagers about birth control and god forbid the “A” word. Our country refused teaching these subjects in 3rd world countries because it is not Christian theology. When will we wake up????????

  • invalid-0

    At least the Duggars, as crazy as they may seem are responsible adults and do not expect society to care for their children. I do not envy Suleiman’s mother who is stuck with the burden of caring for the 14 babies her daughter has produced.

  • invalid-0

    Thank you for bringing up the subject of fundementalist Mormon’s and Christians in this discussion. Having a dude God behind ones irresponsible breeding does not make it any better than what Nadya Suleman has done.

  • invalid-0

    Also, am I honestly supposed to believe that the Quiverful movement daughters are all going to be independent and never on welfare like the fundy Mormons are. There is a reason why most welfare recipients are white women living in rural areas. They are not taught to take care of themselves, which is a form of child abuse!

  • invalid-0

    Please do some research about public assistance before you start running off at the mouth about it and the poor people who have to be on it. Welfare is not a free program, you must be working or looking for work under a supervised system 40 hours a week in order to receive welfare it is called “welfare to work” anyone remember when Bush did that? Of course not. Welfare does not pay enough money to live on in any type of comfort- no matter how many children you have, and there is a a five year per LIFETIME limit for anyone to collect welfare- if you have more children while on welfare, you do NOT get more money. The system has been changed to make it harder to collect, and stay on welfare to eliminate cases like this one, where as long as you continue to pump out babies the money from the govt continues- it no longer works that way. And in case you were wondering- there is no way that you could possibly support a family that large with welfare- there simply is not enough money available- for a family of three with NO income they give $980.00 A MONTH- I think they add $300 a head, but I am sure there is a cap amount. They would also require her to be job searching or working 40 hours a week once her infants are over six months of age.
    I just wanted to clarify a little- because I think there are some GRAVE misconceptions, and a great deal of unnecessary judgments put upon both the welfare system, and anyone unfortunate enough to be reduced to using it. The reality is- they make people fill out so much paperwork and have proof of everything, and you must be reasonably intelligent to be able to even get through the system now. While there are those few out there who try to take advantage of the system, the majority are people like you or I who have been reduced through circumstances beyond their control to use the system to get back on their feet until they find a job- which is exactly what it is designed for.

  • invalid-0

    Arwen – The fact that becoming a parent doesn’t change everyone does not mean that it won’t change anyone. My father walked out on me before I was born and my mom was abusive, so I know what you mean about deadbeats. But I look at some of my friends and I see how having a baby changed them.
    I do not care about this woman’s ethnicity or marital status. I understand the desire to have children, and I do believe that children are blessings. But I am very concerned about the irresponsibility of having so many children. Whatever a person’s beliefs on the matter it simply is not fair to any of these 14 kids to be one in so many. She cannot possibly provide for them all nor can she give adequate attention to any of them. I am undecided about IVF, but the doctor clearly operated outside normal practices. The physical risk he allowed her to take. . . I firmly believe that to be unethical. I hate the idea of splitting up siblings, but what else can be done to have them in responsible/capable/loving/adequate care? She certainly does seem unstable to think she can properly provide for and parent so many children on her own.

  • invalid-0

    But, I find it SO amusing that all the pro-choice people, the environmentalist and such find it only good for the goose. But, if the gander wants to CHOOSE to have a large family or NOT limit their family size, then they are pegged as immoral, criminal, stupid and selfish.

    “The gander” then needs to get himself a rent-a-womb and not force any “goose” into a pregnancy she neither wants nor can afford or a marriage based solely on making her vagina into a clown car.

    *eye roll*

  • invalid-0

    Anonymous posted: “Our organization will also be in touch with the IRS for fraudulent tax filings and also the INS for improper alien status.”

    As this woman was born in California, the INS has no role to play here and your presumption that she is an alien (and illegal) betrays both your ignorance and your apparent bias. Nadya Suleman is obviously not playing with a full deck, but her bizarre behavior has nothing to do with her ethnicity, religion or citizenship.

  • invalid-0

    This woman is unreal, and I feel sorry for the stress that she has caused her parents. I don’t see why shows such as Jon & Kate Plus 8 are glorified. I never agreed w/ having a brood that big whether the woman is married or not & escpecially not in Nadya’s case. I do not watch & will not watch these shows of “large families” because it is not a game to have this many kids and expect assistance for conscious decisions. Everyone knows that having kids is expensive so stop procreating if you can’t support them! As far as I’m concerned, people nowadays should not have more than 3 kids. With work, personal time, and daily functions who has the time to balance everything?

  • invalid-0

    This woman needs a psych evaluation!

    Before she is permitted to obtain any further IVF treatments; the state of California should have her evaluated for mental illness.

    Since this woman cannot support the 14 PLANNED children; get CPS to take them and place them with good loving nurturing families!

    Since the American taxpayers will need to care for them until they are 18-21 years of age–we should have a say in where and how they are raised.

    MY OPINION!