Posted by: mzbitca | January 31, 2009

Have babies, but only the right way.

At this point everyone has heard about the woman who recently gave birth to octuplets.  What we are now recently hearing is why it is WRONG that she had these babies.   What is the number 1 reason, as stated by her own mother?? Cause there’s no man.

“It can’t go on any longer,” she said in a phone interview Friday. “She’s got six children and no husband. I was brought up the traditional way. I firmly believe in marriage. But she didn’t want to get married.”

Fertility experts are also weighing in on this women’s decision:


Since guidelines generally restrict the number of transferred embryos to one or two, fertility experts said they doubted she conceived through in vitro with the help of a legitimate clinician.

“Having eight (embryos) implanted is just absurd,” Shamonki said. “I can’t imagine one of my colleagues doing that.”


This is just another example that no matter what women chose to do with their bodies, if it’s viewed as the correct way, people will be there to criticize and shame them for it. 

I don’t know much about Nadya Suleman as she has spoke little except to say she’s excited.  However, the little information about her I have found is that she has a degree in child development and is studying for her Master’s degree and that she has always wanted 12 children.  You would think that should be enough for people. But no, there’s speculation she has done this illegally and that she will have to *gasp* live on gov’t assistance.  I just can’t help but wonder, if there was a man smiling in the pictures behind Nadya if any of these accusations would even be around?



  1. I haven’t heard a lot about this story, but from what I have heard I haven’t really been able to come up with a concrete opinion. I totally agree with what you’re saying. On the other hand I think it’s insane to have fourteen children while still in school and living at home with parents who apparently disapprove of your decisions. So I’d hesitate to condemn her actions as wrong and I could not care less about her marital status, but I am baffled.

  2. Sorry, no, but this is NOT about what women do with their own bodies. It would be if she had gotten pregnant with octuplets spontaneously, but that’s impossible.

    They story that this woman tells about multiple IVF treatments (all of which were supposedly 100% successful) culminating in an IVF placing 8 embryos in her uterus is almost certainly a fabrication. It is far more likely that she treated herself with fertility medications in order to deliberately have a spectacular number of babies because she wanted attention, money or both.

    • That’s a possibility but I also have not seen any interviews with HER in the paper, it’s everyone else weighing in on it.

  3. I hadn’t heard until now that there wasn’t a “man in the picture.” But I have heard plenty of criticisms of her for using fertility drugs when she already has six kids.

  4. The problem with all of this is everyone is taking a very few facts and sensationalizing them. We really have few facts and until we do, who are we to pass judgement? (And even then, should we?) I, for one, like all the facts.

  5. I think it’s OK to have an opinion on this subject, but I’d still like to hear from Suleman. In my opinion, I don’t think we’d be talking about the ethical implications of these births if she were married. I don’t think doctors would be talking about the possibility of the procedures being obtained illegally or the health of the newborns. I also don’t think anyone would be seriously talking about the financial strains of having 14 children under age 8 if this were a married couple (because they’d probably get a show on TLC to pay for all the kids). That’s not to say we shouldn’t talk about these things. I don’t think it’s right to claim that the IVF definitely wasn’t done by a quack. I just think if there were a man standing next to her, it would be a symbol that all of this was legit. I think we need to have a broader discussion about the obsession for women to have their “own” children and the “biological clock.”

  6. Thanks for posting this. When they started tooting ‘Single Mom’ I just knew they’d get ridiculous.

  7. This has absolutely nothing abut what women want to do with their bodies. Or being married. In fact, most people assumed she was married until a day or so ago. The headlines were “Family with six children now has eight more”, etc. (I’m SO not a fan of Jon & Kate.) No, this was an outrageous story without her being single. No one cares about her marital status except that it seems she has less support than the average mother when she has so many more children. So yes, some kind of family structure might be nice. But it certainly doesn’t have be a husband. And now the grandparents are trying to leave the house before the other children get there according to the latest articles. This case has to do with the “possibility” of one person forcing everyone else to take care of her 14 children, if that’s the case. If she’s independently wealthy there’s no problem, is there?- although now it seems she may be in a cash grab to get paid for interviews. It may only be speculation, but this person is probably not well. And there is a reason why doctors take a hippocratic oath. Anyway, it’s good to see the doctor’s response up there. In the last few days I’ve heard from so many people undergoing fertility treatments how very unlikely the mother’s story is.

  8. I am critical of her choice, but not because there is no man in the picture. What she does with her body doesn’t factor into my opinion either. This isn’t an issue of “no man,” it’s an issue of 1 person, 1 income, 14 children! Kids need a lot of attention and care to grow up to be good people who benefit society. It will be difficult for them to get the attention from their mother that they need, when they have 13 brothers and sisters. The same would apply if they had a father too, but to a lesser extent (ie one more person to give the kids attention).
    And maybe it isn’t very PC of me to say, but yes, it would be a bad thing if she were to resort to government assistance. Government assistance is a good thing to have available, but at the time time it is totally irresponsible to intentionally give birth to children if you don’t have the time and the money to care for them properly.

  9. I hadn’t heard until this minute that there wasn’t a man in the picture, so that hasn’t entered into my viewing of things, nor do I think it’s particularly the view of the mainstream media, because I have been following the case.

    While I do agree that it is a woman’s choice what to do with her body, I think there are limits to that. I feel it was extremely irresponsible of the doctor she chose to allow her to implant 8 fetuses at a time, knowing that she would not choose to abort any. She could have died; they could have died. It’s a miracle that they all lived. I think that there’s a distinct difference between “choice” and “responsibility”.

    So now she has 14 children: well, wonderful. That was her choice. And perhaps merely by bearing them she has made the correct choice in order to care for them: she will undoubtedly receive media attention and even, maybe, be the new TLC star. But in a less media-centric country, having 14 babies would not be self-sustaining, it would merely be a really difficult endeavor, as it will surely still be. I worry for the psychological, and physical health of her children and her. I would worry if she had a spouse and supportive parents. Hell, I would worry about a polyamorous four-some having fourteen children.

    I know that fourteen kids have been raised to adulthood in the past by loving parents, but it still doesn’t mean it’s an easy or wise thing to do, much less all at one time.

  10. While the grandma seems rather traditional and all (“She’s not married!”), I got the impression that she’s tired of taking care of her daughter’s kids….and doesn’t want to take care of any more.

    I read somewhere that the mom is “getting paid” to do this—-these kids are all from the same donor. I wonder if this mystery man is supporting her money.

  11. I grew up in a family of 5 kids. I don’t think that unless you’re really on the ball you can give 14 kids all the attention they deserve and go to school at the same time. Yes it was her choice, but I think at this point it is the children who I’m worried about. I read in one of the articles that the woman’s father is in Iraq trying to make money for the family. This must be very hard on this woman’s mother.

  12. I think the context would change your opinion.

    Any time a Christian woman (let’s say, a devout Catholic) is shown in the news after giving birth to multiple children, often one every year, over a span of seven or eight years, the feminist community does the equivalent of an eye roll. The woman is viewed as a tool of patriarchy who too often is subjected to patriarchy’s tool, if you get my meaning. Never mind taht it was her choice to have the children.

    This particular woman, in contrast, deigns to have fourteen very young children — and she’s celebrated by feminists — let’s be honest — precisely because she does not have or want a husband. Because she’s showing the whole world how she doesn’t need a man.

    And who cares if the kids suffer from not having a father? The woman’s peculiar desire to have enough children to fill a school room trumps it.

    • Pierce,

      The context would NOT change my opinion. Women can have as many children as they want for whatever reasons that they want. Some people do criticize the Duggars but not for the amount of children they have, they criticize for their views which are very much anti-feminist in the belief that women should be in the home and only serve the purpose to have children. I don’t care how many children they have or why they have them and most feminists don’t either. Also I have not seen any feminists lifting her up as a beacon. They’ve all been basically saying: What she chooses to do with her body is her business and nobody elses. But thanks for playing.

  13. Since this is the first I’ve heard of this story, I’m certainly not in a position to criticize Suleman’s decision without reading more. That said, based on the facts presented here, the things that most concern me about the situation are the physical, emotional, and financial strains she is putting on herself and her family. Caring for fourteen children who are that young sounds like an impossible task. If Suleman and her parents can pull it off on their own, it will be an astounding feat.

    Growing up I knew a couple of families of similar sizes, but those children were all born one or two at a time. By the time the younger kids were born, the eldest were mature enough to help out. And by the time the firstborns were starting to think about college, they were itching to go somewhere less crowded. One guy (oldest of thirteen) even graduated from high school a year early with that goal. I can’t imagine what will happen to the Suleman kids in a decade or two when they’re all trying to afford higher education at once.

    My apologies if this sounds pessimistic, but I have a very practical, logistically minded reaction to a lot of things. My family tree is a long and proud line of worriers.

  14. I see a lot of judgments of a woman, possibly a woman of color, without a lot of facts.

    Let’s take a look at what we do know:

    Nadya Suleman has six older children, has a degree in child development and is studying for her Masters, and now has octuplets.

    Now, for what we don’t know:
    Just because she’s not married and lives with her family does not mean there’s no man or possible husband in her life.

    Would she rather have a girlfriend/wife?

    Whether or not she has a job and is on maternity leave?

    If she’s on leave, what her job’s salary is?

    Do we know for sure that her other children are under “age 8?” The only place I’ve heard/read about that is here.

    What was her relationship with her parents like before this latest pregnancy?

    So, there’s no way to know for sure that she will need or want government assistance, how much support she has, whether the older children can help, or whether she’s “dumping off her responsibility” on her mother, and her mother is exasperated. Maybe her mother was emotionally abusive and neglectful at the start, and is now actively being vindictive to the press.

    I won’t be placing any judgment if/when these facts come to light. As a radical, intersectional feminist, I uphold her right to have as many children as she wants and to request help from a society whose main expectation is still that she do exactly what she did.

    However, for those who do wish to opine, wouldn’t it make more sense to wait until as many facts about her situation come to light as possible? Wild speculation is just that….wild.

  15. I see this as two separate issues: The first being the role of clinicians in this situation. There are probably rules against transferring that many embryos into such a young woman because there may be a dangerous number of embryos to implant and be carried to term. But this is the responsibility of the medical staff, not the woman. If there are regulations, it is up to them to enforce them, and they are within their rights to refuse to attempt more than a certain number of embryos. If some (probably dodgy) expert wrongly transferred too many embryos, it is their fault because they accepted the responsibility for a procedure and resulting pregnancy that may not be allowed.

    However the woman in question has a right to as many kids as she wants. Once she is pregnant, no matter how many embryosthere are, she should be under no obligation to abort her embryos because someone transferred too many, even if she knew it was illegal (if it is). Once she’s pregnant, it’s done. Yes, if she wants to, she deserves the right to abort as many as she feels she needs to. But it’s not her responsibility to make up for any mistakes anyone else makes by doing anything she doesn’t want to.

    It’s just so cruel how people take any excuse to shame others. Even though most people who complain about her keeping that many children would probably be against abortion, especially if THEY got pregnant with 8 foetuses. It would be all ‘A miracle from GOD!!’ Many people have lots of kids, just one by one. And once you’re pregnant, whether it’s by IVF or PIV is irrelevant. Your body, your choice, no matter how un-suitable it may be for most people, or if it even is the right choice for you.

    Is having so many children something I’d see as very difficult, maybe enough to drive me mad? Sure. All at once? Must be a nightmare, twins are bad enough. Is overpopulation a huge problem? Yes. Do I believe that the choice to do something means that we have the responsibility to think carefully and sometimes not do something? Hell yeah. But it also means that we support those who go through with a choice, even if we see it as a rash, dangerous, maybe even harmful one. Anything less than is not really supporting choice, because we’d only be supporting the ‘right’ choice.

    She wanted to have them, and she needs our support as a ‘civilised’ society to not demonise her, and maybe lend a hand.
    I really hate that people use this as an excuse to dump hate on someone who will have a hard task ahead of them. She needs the support of society more than ever, because all of us, no matter how rich or poor, or whether we have a man or not, may need support from others, whether financial, or emotional. I think that her life will not be easy, at all, but that does not mean that she should have been prevented from having children because they may be poor. Many people live a happy life despite not being affluent, and implying that people who can’t affort to give their kids luxuries shouldn’t have any is far too close to some sort of class eugenics and China-esque reproductive policy for my liking.

    It’s one thing give doctors guidelines for which procedures to allow, because nobody has the right to demand a certain number of kids at once, or demand any non-urgent medical procedure, but it’s not OK to dictate what women should do with their bodies once pregnant, or force them to not have children at all through poverty.

    My thoughts are with her and her family, because it’s going to be tough, which I’m sure she knows, and we’re not making it easier for her. Her extended family will need help, because nobody should be forced to babysit that many children, and it’s not going to be easy to feed and clothe them, care for them at once, much less raise them. But, people don’t question a million really dumb things taxes go towards, but help starving families (especially non-white ones) and suddenly it’s a waste of money. Yes, this raises issues, and there are odds against the family, but instead of hoping they fail so we can say ‘I told you so’, which is what most of society really wants, isn’t the answer really giving the kids as much support as we can, to minimise their problems? If people really care about their welfare, rather than berating their mother we should be helping.

  16. The issue to me at least is the gross violation of the standard of care in the type of fertility treatment she had. One of the commenters at one of the ScienceBlogs that was discussing this issue is actually in the field, and said that the standard of care for a young woman having the type of fertility treatment she had is to implant one and only one embryo per round of treatment. So somebody committed a gross ethical breach. Whoever it is, it isn’t Nadia Suleiman.

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