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The War on Choice When Life is Chosen (Eight Times)

A woman gives birth to octuplets.

That's right.  Eight.

What's more, she also already had six other children.

That's right.  Fourteen kids to raise.

Now, there's enough out on the internet that can tell you about the dangers women face when having multiple births, the moral or ethical implications to have this many children when our world is being pressed with overpopulation, or what it means to have double digit offspring.  I don't need to hash into that.

What I do want to rant about for this Friday is the flack this woman is getting for making her choice.  When doctors gaver her the option of reducing the number of embryos so to reduce the stress on her body and, naturally, life circumstances, she declined.

And in the month of Roe vs. Wade, when millions of women march and protest for Choice - with the rich context that Choice goes far beyond abortion - which stands for health, reproductive rights, and ultimately the right of each and every woman to choose, I find it sadly ironic that this woman, with her CHOICE to move forward with this rare pregnancy is thought to be possibly mentally ill or unstable.

After reports are released about her status (single), age (early to mid thirties), and financial background (recently filed bankruptcy), there are more than enough reasons to criticize and bemoan the decision to raise fourteen young children with restricted finances.

But she chose a fertility program.  She chose to stay with seven and she was happy to hear she got eight.  As a woman, she chose.

And if the feminist movements want to analyze her decision and talk about the ramifications of choosing this path of motherhood, I understand the need to pick the situation apart.  What I don't understand is how her ability to choose is deemed wrong because she made a decision that most people would not have chosen.  It's important to remember what women who came before us fought for and I'm pretty sure it was the right to choose not WHAT to choose. 

While we don't know all the circumstances, we know that she exercised a right that generations before us have fought so long for: accessible healthcare, reproductive health with knowledge, and, ultimately, the choice to make decisions about our own lives. 

There's something to celebrate there.

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Comments

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funny you should mention this

we totally had a "discussion" (read: almost argument) in my feminist theory class yesterday involving a woman's right to have produce children in less-than-ideal circumstances. (it was almost an argument because we have a student who can't respect other people's opinions.) things would have been worse if anyone had brought up this situation.

we in the class all identify as feminists and it was interesting/uncomfortable to see the difference of opinion. the question was brought up about welfare and state-sponsored, tax-supported aid. where does a woman's choice/right become the problem for the rest of us (who may/may not agree with her life choices)? it's a valid question i think in this day and age. i just wish her and all her children luck.

Here's the thing...

I am fed up with "choice" feminism. "Woman making choice" does not automatically equal "Woman making feminist choice".

In this particular case, there is very little to celebrate. Apparently, implanting eight embryos may verge on medical malpractice (see CBS article linked above). And I'm generally pretty down with the government helping people out (I am a lefty Canadian), but to have six children already, without a secure income, and no apparent partner (either male or female) and then have *more* children - I'm sorry, that's just completely irresponsible. The delivery costs alone for the octuplets have to have been in the *millions* of dollars, and someone is going to have to pay for that - not mom, apparently. Which makes this an incredibly selfish, as well as irresponsible decision. What happens if one or more of the children has a serious disability? I really don't think that this situation is in any of the children's best interests.

Argh. Just argh.

agreed! the financial

agreed!

the financial ramifications of a woman birthing 8 children is a huuuuge drain on resources that could be put to better use elsewhere. especially in times like these.
i think bitch had an article about this very issue a few issues back....

I have to agree...

...with a feeling of frustration over the general idea that a woman choosing, well, just about anything is an inherently feminist act. This is no doubt the most popular version of femisinism one finds in the mainstream and it is unsettling...I think because it takes light away from feminism as an organized response to structural inequality especially toward women. On the other hand, I would never bash this women in the way she seems to be getting bashed. The crazy welfare queen argument is disturbing. Agreed.
I'm torn on infertility issues in terms of where I think "individual choice" should defended vs. critiqued , and I thank Bitch for continuing to publish articles on the subject.

I mean, this is surely a crazy choice

it's not in the same league as deciding to leave the workforce to stay home with young children for a few years, or deciding that you prefer the domestic/home arts to power walking in your business suit and Reeboks.

Having 8 children at once? It's a kind of grotesque situation that not many of us get to decide about, so I think it puts her in the slim minority of other lunatics who decide that the book advance they'll get when they write "Seven from Heaven" or some such will lift their spirits when the novelty and press attention wears off.

I'm not a fan of people who have lots and lots of children, whether they are rich or poor, partnered or single, stable or crazy. I am the sort who prefers a few intense, deep relationships vs. a raft of superficial acquaintances. Seeing this woman, or folks like the Duggars, who have children that are literally lost in the herd, makes me depressed. When I think of my own family relationships, of the relatives I have who don't really know me - and my family isn't big - and then I lay that onto one of these humungous families, I feel sad. I feel for the kids like me in that mob.

Building relationships that are solid is a fuckload of work. It's not cute. You will not own these children like a set of Hummel figurines. Someday they will rise up and shock the shit out of you, even if you are good communicators and close. Parents are there to caretake children until they are able to take care of themselves. I see little caretaking in a move like this woman with the octuplets or the QuiverFull people like the Duggars. I see selfish, grand-standing "LOOKIT ME I'M PREGNANT AGAIN!" bullshit that doesn't seem cognizant of the reality of how important human relationships that really see people for what they are as individuals are.

I have one child. It is a huge job for me to stay connected with her. Perhaps that's why I cannot fathom being tolerant of this kind of "choice."

It's one thing to have a

It's one thing to have a choice, as you should, to your fertility and what you should do with your life, your health, your body, etc., but I also think you need to make a responsible choice. It's one thing to choose to have (or not have) an unexpected child under not the greatest circumstances, yet it's quite another to have 8 kids on top of the 6 you already have under really horrible circumstances, and to actively seek it out by possibly injecting yourself with fertility drugs.

I think this falls under one of those sticky situations where you shouldn't out right say, "this needs to be stopped! This shouldn't happen" because then that opens up a can of worms that isn't easily closed, but there has to be some dialogue between responsible and irresponsible choices, and I definitely think this falls under the irresponsible choices category.

encroaching on a woman's right to choose

i am 100% with you on choice feminism and can't stand it either. but, i'm going to have to disagree on a couple other things you wrote.

certainly, just because someone made a choice it doesn't qualify as a feminist choice. but i don't think that was the point of the original post. the post was saying, you know what, she had that choice to make and it was hers because of the government's decision to (somewhat) respect a woman's right to choose - choosing encompassing whether or not to have children, how many to have and when to have them.

sure, this woman's choice to have a whopping 14 children is not one that most folks would make. but i am very wary when we start criticizing other women's choices. so what if one or more of the children has a serious disability? what if ANY family's child ends up having a disability? not many families can support a child with a disability without some sort of financial assistance.

beyond that, implying that women should only be able to have children in certain situations walks far too close to the line of government & social control for my comfort. it becomes an extremely grey area. not to mention, i would argue, when we start discussing regulating women's choices (governmentally or socially), we veer away from feminist principles.

Why can't we?

Why can't we criticize a woman's choice? Especially if her choice negatively impacts the rest of her family? Remember, she's living with her parents and her parents are supporting her. Her choosing to have more children is a big "fuck you" to her parents. It's so disrespectful.

"so what if one or more of the children has a serious disability?"

~Because she will have 13 other children to raise. Special needs kids need special attention. Those children also require extra care and money, none of which she has.

"not many families can support a child with a disability without some sort of financial assistance."

~Yeah, but they are mostly dual-parent homes who have an income and not 14 children.

No one is implying that she shouldn't be allowed legally to have that many children. What others are saying that it's medically unethical to implant that many embryos (6) in a woman's uterus who already has 6 children because it's seriously dangerous. Her uterus could have ruptured, and she could have died, along with the fetuses, and then her other children would have been without a mother. I don't think she should be praised. It's very irresponsible to do that to your children and your parents.

Equality in every aspect?

I think that a "feminist choice" is any choice that is held to the same moral standards as a "man's choice."

It is a little hard to draw a connection between birthing children and choices men are faced with so I wont even attempt it. Regardless, I really think that it is perfectly natural and healthy for people to hold this woman responsible for this bizarre choice to have as many children as she does considering her economic situation. For instance, if a man makes a choice that puts him and his family into extreme poverty it is considered by most if not all of society as an irresponsible if not immoral choice.

I just dont think it is fair (or feminist for that matter) to hold women to lesser standards just so we encourage choice.

Feministic tendencies

Excuse, but to "classical" feminism the modern left feminism has the same relation as modern liberals to "classical". From the equal rights have passed to equal possibilities, - little by little, and here newly appeared "the left feminism" in its execution has lost last tatter of feminism in general.
Rather perverted understanding of feminism usually illustrate the thesis "Between the Man and the Woman there is no difference". The original trend, the new tendency... I Believe, if ardent feminists, so zealously and with a perfect floor-mat the defending rights from an equality position, would reflect over it, in the world would become less violence.

Chiming in

For me personally, I am cautious of stories like these because I assume (and wrongly so in some cases), that these are religious nut jobs (e.g. QuiverFull) who are attempting to populate the earth with as many Christians as possible in a backwards xenophobic effort to quell other beliefs.

I was just thinking the same

I was just thinking the same thing as Chiming In. I don't want to make that assumption about this particular woman, either, but automatically do! I really agree with the other posters as well that any choice is not inherently feminist. It is a good point, though, that part of having choice with our own bodies is having access to help with our fertility, whether we are single, poor or whatever. My belief and plan for myself is that you should only have enough children to replace yourself and your partner on the planet. My problem is not so much with her partnership status or income level as it is her plugging into the Western Christian patriarchal value that we are entitled to populate the earth with as many children as we can. But there is another interesting thing I haven't heard anyone speak much about; I volunteer at a womens shelter where most of the women have multiple children with multiple fathers and many are pregnant again as we speak. I can't stop myself from thinking very rarely, "Seriously? You have no job, no home, and you still haven't figured out what happens when you have unprotected sex?" Of course I fully realize there's so much more to it than that, specifically when I step back and see how much validation these women get from their kids. In the amazingly scary situations these women have found themselves in, their beautiful children are all they have. Validation through parenthood is something so many women are drawn too (including myself sometimes!), whether they are rich, poor, healthy or unhealthy, whatever. I wonder how much that plays into this particular woman's situation.

"Validation through

"Validation through parenthood is something so many women are drawn too (including myself sometimes!), whether they are rich, poor, healthy or unhealthy, whatever. I wonder how much that plays into this particular woman's situation.- Lindzanne

Good point. And one I missed in my reading of the whole situation.

But - I don't find my life's validation in being a mother. I hated being pregnant. I love my kid and wouldn't want to imagine life without her, but she's her own person. She's Huge in my life, but not Everything for me. It's hard to even type that without being nervous people will perceive me as some monstrous bitch.

I find women who are entranced with pregnancy and little tiny babies to be bizarre and odd. I mean, the babies grow up, they move away, they become complicated and they don't need you as much and that cute lil' stage ends. It's akin to being obsessed with your wedding and then becoming depressed after you are married. At least as far as I can feature it.

I also suspect there are women who associate pregnancy with an overall emotional boost (hormonal, or maybe the attention, who knows) and enjoy it more intensely, and seek it out over and over. Since I am biologically wired in the opposite manner, I find these women to be in dire need of medicine or tai chi or some other manner of regulating their moods than growing another child. Because, then, you know - THE CHILD ARRIVES. And the child doesn't give a shit about you, or your emotional highs and lows, and it has its own needs and worries and wants and struggles. And you are using babies, to - somehow - get off...find mental balance...feel special...? Ugh. How is this empowering or noble for women as mothers or their children?

Am I alone in this suspicion? Am I being uncharitable?

Not alone!

You are not alone in that suspicion, nor do I think you are being uncharitable. I am coming close to the time of wanting to have children, but struggle with both personal motivations and the unwanted public validation that will surely ensue.

I do agree that not every choice is a feminist choice, or even more importantly, a responsible choice. I am ardently pro-choice when it comes to abortion... however, this doesn't mean I support the choices of some females I have known that have repeated abortions without taking steps to avoid pregnancy. I support choice in fertility treatment and family planning, but think it is flat-out irresponsible to have boat loads of kids if you can't provide for them properly.

It's great that women have the agency to practice family planning, but the act of universally exercising that power without regard to circumstances isn't (in my opinion) what feminism is about.

You are definitely not

You are definitely not alone!!! I relate completely to your post, except for the fact I have no children yet. I really want to, and yet am totally creeped and grossed out by most of the parenting culture I run into (I've spent most of my adult life in the childcare business in one way or another). I know I really want a baby, but at the same time I don't really feel this deep emotional pull to it. I also don't even know if I feel I'm entitled to it. I don't want to sound harsh, but I think it's weird to feel like it's you are entitled to grow a baby and then raise it and have it just be yours! Because as you say, Girlpants, that baby is an actual person, not yours, and one day it's gone. And then what are you if all you have let yourself be is a mother? And what kind of role model is that for your kids when that's the only way they've seen the most important woman in their life? I have seen so many grown boys (and girls, I should add) be terrible to mothers and their mothers just take it, because that's their role. They're the nurturer even when they shouldn't be.
It's so complicated, I could really go off on a tangent about this if I let myself....our connections to marriage and birth are so intertwined with sexism, patriarchy, being plugged into the richest culture in the world, a general lack of fulfillment so many women have, etc......That's one of the reasons it's so hard to adopt, everyone is lined up for brand new perfect white babies when there are thousands and thousands of unwanted children in the world, so many in our own country. A lot of what I'm saying is reminding me that I really think the way people parent is really tied to class as well (which seems like an obvious point--but usually isn't obvious to a lot of the parents I meet.) Sorry if my low-income mixed-race roots are showing here, but this weird baby culture seems to me to be an arm of a privileged patriarchal society, manifesting itself in such a myriad of ways I feel I can't fully express what I mean.
It's so pervasive. One of my best friends is married, and doesn't want to have kids. Is really truly positive she does not want to give birth. And even the most progressive feminist women I know recoil in horror when she says that. And they always, without fail, say, you're just not ready, you'll change your mind someday.

To Mom or not to Mom

Lindzanne, I find it so incredibly refreshing to hear from women who struggle with real issues like I do, and in a very real way. When someone hears you're a feminist, they assume that firstly you have everything figured out, and they automatically assume a certain set of values to you. But life isn't that cut and dried. I have been struggling recently with the idea of "Choice Feminism" and what the truth really is about feminism. Because feminists themselves seem to argue with each other over what a feminist really means. And then it comes to the idea of women, and being so closely labelled and linked with our physical self and our sexual self.
Some people believe that if you don't fulfill your sexual function of being pregnant and having a baby, then you're not really female, you're not a woman. My own mother told me when i was young that the height of being a woman is giving birth. When I tell her, "I'm not sure I want kids, Mom." She always looks at me with this somewhat patronizing expression and says, "You'll change your mind. You'll want kids someday." I know she means well. But it doesn't answer all the questions I have.
Like, if I were to become a mother someday, am I doing it for the right reason? How do I get married and or become a mother without giving up my identity and becoming one of those martyr mothers we all know. You're right when you say, "And what kind of role model is that for your kids when that's the only way they've seen the most important woman in their life?"
I grew up with a Mom like that. And now that we're all grown up, she doesn't know who she is. That breaks me. And it's hard to see my mother like that, because she trully is the most important woman in my life. And always will be. So how do we go about this?

I actually wondered if she

I actually wondered if she is part of the Quiverfull movement. I tried to find information online about her, but besides all the stuff I'd heard before, the only new information that might lead to confirming my speculation is this article:

"Biblical theme chosen for octuplets' names
The Associated Press
Posted: 02/09/2009 06:12:22 PM PST

LOS ANGELES—The Southern California mother of octuplets has chosen a Biblical theme for the babies' names.

Nadya Suleman's spokesman said Monday that the babies are named Noah, Jonah, Jeremiah, Josiah, Isaiah, Maliyah, Makai and Nariyah. They all share the middle name Angel and the last name Solomon.

The babies were born nine weeks prematurely on Jan. 26 within a span of five minutes, weighing between 1 pound, 8 ounces and 3 pounds, 4 ounces. All appear relatively healthy but are expected to remain in a hospital in Bellflower at least a few more weeks. Their mother lives in nearby Whittier, outside Los Angeles."

The choice of all biblical names and the last name Solomon are a little odd of a choice. Maybe she is, maybe she isn't but I hope that Dateline interview tonight sheds some more light on it.

A Fine Line

There's a very fine line here. I'm torn. I believe that if she wanted to take the risk of having all seven (and then eight) babies, that is her choice. Then I think about the over all well being of ALL 14 of the children. If what I've been reading is true, she is not financially equipped to take care of these children. That seems a little irresponsible. I have also read that she lives with her parents and they have lost a home trying to take care of her and her children. Sounds a little selfish...but I do not know the true situation.

At the same time, I don't think anyone has the right to judge her. Having children is a huge responsibility (this from a single, childless 25 year old) and I hate that some people get into it without thinking of all the REAL consequences. BUT...it was her choice.

Well...maybe she will get a deal with TLC or something. Then the financial burden would be lifted.

But here's where "choice"

But here's where "choice" feminism falls apart. What if I chose to purchase a yacht and three more houses because that's my choice? And my family fuckin sinks under the weight of my fabulous choice?

What we're talking about is worse than buying those things - we're talking about filling the world with more children than you might be able to handle.

I want to just scream it: just because you can have babies doesn't mean you should! It's a grave thing. There's a whole lot you can fuck up here. And yeah, poor women having children have been bullied by the media way too much and have been judged unfairly. So it's hard to come right out and say, Listen lady, what you are doing is asinine and irresponsible. But I can't support this kind of behavior. It's stupid. Would she adopt 8 infant babies at one crack? I highly doubt it.

Yes, it's your womb and your prerogative. But then the babies emerge from the womb and it's no longer just your prerogative. Remember the village raising the child concept? Remember how the nuclear family concept itself has proven to have many failures and weak spots? If you can't take care of them, then you can't take care of them. Having children is not a stunt or an extreme sport.

Maybe my pragmatism is too cold and prickly, but I think this woman is going too far. I'd go so far to say it's cowardly to not make a tough choice and give some of those embryos the ax. She chose the cuddly, easy choice and then when they emerge? Let's hope TLC sets her up. Otherwise, it's gonna suck for her and her family.

...just because you can have

...just because you can have babies doesn't mean you should! THANK YOU. Sure, I believe in a woman's right to choose. But I also believe that we have to exercise responsibility along with that right, and having eight babies via IVF when you already have six others (also via IVF) under the age of 8, have no partner to help support them, and recently filed bankruptcy is an incredibly irresponsible and selfish act. Who's going to pay for the medical care for these kids? Who's going to pay for their food, clothing, education, housing, and so on? If this woman is bankrupt after the first six kids, it's probably a safe bet it won't be her. Of course, cable networks, corporations, and the public at large will probably be falling all over themselves to donate tons of stuff to this woman - because, you know, baayyybeeez OMG - so she probably won't have to worry. And let's not forget the bucks that American taxpayers will have to shell out to cover the tax breaks and government aid this woman and her mega-litter will get.

Having children is not a stunt or an extreme sport. Unfortunately, that's exactly how it's viewed these days, thanks to the MSM and channels like TLC ("All Babies All The Time!"). Heaven forbid anyone should ruin the yay-mommyhood-we-luuuv-baybeez glow by pointing out the harsh reality of what it will cost - physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially - to deal with having your own small town-full of kids.

...the harsh reality of what

...the harsh reality of what it will cost - physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially

YES. Becoming a parent is a big deal. There's a lot at stake. It's not like deciding to go back to grad school. While I'm sure the producers at TLC would disagree, there's nothing cute about having a kid whose emotional needs aren't met. That's worse than the financial costs to society - because we're talking about human suffering on top of probable financial costs to society, too.

Now, being a parent isn't all gloom and doom and sacrifice. It's really the source of some of the funniest things I've witnessed in all my life. I recommend it just for the laughs, truly. But this morning, my five year old wasn't in her bed when we woke up and the front door was half-way open. We guessed she had ran down two houses to her aunt's house (my sister likes her Sunday morning doughnuts) but for those moments when we didn't know where she was - you can't describe it.

So people who toss off the children like they're ordering a few extra appetizers? Infuriate me. They add stress and chaos and tension in a world brimming with those things. For what? Because Jon & Kate Plus 8 seems really amusing? Because those snap-crotch onesies are soooooo cute? Infuriating.

I think the thing here

I think the thing here is.... we can think it's a bad choice, or a good choice. We can think she's being irresponsible or think she's a wonder woman. But whatever the case, I think most of us can agree that it was her choice to make and that she shouldn't have been forced (by the government, by doctors, etc.) to take any route other than the one she took.

Whose choice?

Why is it so fair for this woman to exercise her "right" to bring in 8 more lives into an already unstable environment? I don't have any choice as a taxpayer in subsidizing programs that she will need to heavily rely upon to even provide a meager existence for these children, most of whom will require lifelong assistance due to their circumstances and developmental challenges. The state of California is considering salary furloughs for some state employees. Not a good choice there, either. I don't want to be considered a feminist if it means that I have to take a stand for women like this mother who make very wrong decisions.

I agree.

It's pretty clear that the folks commenting here think the mother made an irresponsible choice, but what would they have us do about it? If she's convinced that she wants to bear these children, regardless of whether she can take care of them, she gets to make that choice and then live with it.

Any alternative I can think of treads too unsettlingly close to eugenics. (Yes, you could legislate that mothers deemed "unfit" are not allowed to have babies, and - I guess - have mandatory terminations of those pregnancies, but... who decides which mothers are unfit? And on what grounds? Is having too many children already the sole criteria, or could income or lack of a partner be added to the mix? What about age? Would mothers with physical handicaps be denied the opportunity to bear children? And if the right to choose to have children becomes controlled by the state, does the right to raise them follow? It's all a complicated issue, and while I think fourteen kids with no stable income or designated partner[s]/"village" to help raise them is frankly insane, I also don't know how you'd go about preventing it without stepping into Big Brother territory, except through improved education so women could make more responsible choices.)

It sucks that tax dollars are going to support her kazillion kids, sure. It also sucks that tax dollars are supporting wars and guerilla training and the Boy Scouts.

People do stupid, irresponsible things all the time. Sometimes those things endanger people around them. Usually laws are in place to prevent that behavior from affecting others' lives (and, yeah, these fourteen babies should fall into that category...), but when you start legislating around the subject of birth and pregnancy, things get sticky fast.

Yeah, I think you are right

Yeah, I think you are right on not being able to legislate these bizarre choices made by insane people. Fortunately, I don't think this situation will be common.

I think our only hope is that such decisions aren't condoned/supported by our culture at large...

Oh wait. Looks like Octo-Momma's getting some network love after all:

http://www.ksl.com/?nid=157&sid=5437192

GREAT.

Media Treatment

It's quite instructive to compare the treatment the media accords this woman to its treatment of the Duggars (see, for example, http://spinspotter.com/marker/410607 and http://spinspotter.com/marker/410492).

RE: Media Treatment

EKS, I also made this point in a different forum on a different website :) When a married, white, Christian couple has 7 kids at one time (remember the McCaughey Septuplets?), or 18 kids in the case of the Duggars, it is glorified by the media. The family and media treats it like a miracle from God. In this woman's case with the octuplets, they vilify her because she is unmarried, lives with her parents, has six other children, and has financial problems. I think the media needs to take a serious look at the double standard they portray when multiple births occur.

See, I'm democratic here

in my dislike of the shitloads-of-babies households. I think they are all insane and irresponsible, regardless of composition or background.

Let's talk about the elephant

The biggest reason this woman should be criticized is that she chose, for all 14 of these children, that they weren't worthy of a father. I'm sorry, but that is the most selfish choice of all. We all know that children statistically fare better with a mother and a father; now if a father were present and walked out on this woman, we would all rant about what a deadbeat piece of crap he was. Here, she chooses to remove the possibility of a father from their lives forever (I doubt she'll get out to date much) and we're supposed to respect that choice? Psychologically amiss is the best term I could use to describe a woman like this.

Responsible Single Parents Exist. Deal.

From my own personal eyewitness experience: A "typical" single mother/parent just wants one or two children out of very careful planning. Remember Murphy Brown (If I recall, that situation wasn't completely planned, but America watched her go through it)? And that ignorant goody-two-shoes Vice President that criticized that TV character? I have a problem with remarks such as these, studies and statistics be damned. I have a friend who chose to have a child without being in a relationship. My friend is one of the most unselfish people I know. She is not materialistic, does not live off of any social/government assistance programs, has her own stable income, cooks real healthy food to feed her child with daily (All while leads a busy lifestyle!), does not spoil her child rotten (I have seen her discipline her child when the child misbehaves) ... for the most part, a "model" parent! Her personal motto/credo is TO GIVE. Her child is faring well, has no psychological issues, is not ADHD, and is better-socially and academically adjusted than some "nuclear family" (two-heterosexual parent family) children I also know of. The mother of 14 children at issue here indeed has some psychological issues that need to be addressed concerning her child-obsession (I love hearing about the mother of this woman criticizing her. Go grandma!). But lumping her in with responsible single parents-by-choice that REALLY DO exist in our society is ignorant, un-feminist, and reeks of the narrow-minded, Right-Wing idealogy I fight day and night as an activist to prove wrong and silence. You call yourself a "popculture feminist??" I hate to break it to you, but there is a lot more you need to learn before you call yourself one.

Let us not also forget there are also single FATHERS that chose parenthood without committing to relationships. Don't think those people exist and have a voice? Think again.

troll?

I struggle to believe you're serious with the above statement regarding parental worthiness. Do you really think the elephant in the room is whether or not the children have a father? Do you mean father or do you mean co-parent? Do you mean co-parent or do you mean second financial income, stable home environment, loving family, opportunities to prosper and grow?

Please.....define terms.

It's not ideology, it's reality

Children without FATHERS, statistically (poverty, crime, school performance, etc.), fare poorly compared to children with fathers in their lives. Feminism is about equal rights, fighting against patriarchal institutions, discarding sexist notions, making better opportunity for future female generations. When did it become about making men dispensible? Fathers are important, and if we as woman truly care more about our children than about ourselves, we would acknowledge that. I'm really sick of the word "feminist" being absconded by ultra-leftist women who knee-jerkingly dismiss an valid point of view that is contrary to their own (no, I am not a troll and am actually surprised at being attacked for stating the obvious) - those children will suffer for a myriad of reasons, but one major one is the absence of a father (just ask most anyone that grew up without one).

egocentric, yes you are

you are being attacked because you think your opinion is the obvious one. The only "major" reason not having a two parent heterosexual home hurts children are financial reasons. Look at the pay gap to figure that out. There is also a lack of support for single moms (emotionally and financially) that trickles down to kids. This can be solved in a myriad of reasons without in home dads, even the support of community dads.

Being feminist does not = anti-father

I'm sorry, but the importance of fathers in the lives of children is obvious. I never suggested they had to be "in home dads;" I'm suggesting that just as women should not be reduced to their parts (ovaries, vagina, breasts) neither should we reduce men down to their penises or sperm (when it's convenient to us, as this octuplet mother has done) and dismiss the rest of him as irrelevant. I know too many children (now young adults) that have suffered for many reasons as a result of not being in contact with their biological fathers...for some reason, the stepdads, grandfathers, etc. in their lives did not alleviate their longing for that biological tie. It's an interesting debate that deserves thought and consideration from all viewpoints within the feminist realm of thought...stop attacking any view that isn't ultra-leftist or the credibility of the feminist movement will be diminished.

I did not mean to be a troll

I thought that this was supposed to be a discussion of differing points of views. All I was trying to do was explain a real-life situation (That I have to keep anonymous because the people involved do indeed suffer ridicule for it at times) that I had thought that some feminists still accepted and and defended as a lifestyle choice. Apparently not.

Have we really gotten more conservative and decided that the likes of Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, and Sarah Palin have something relevant to say about our society? I hope not.

To clarify, my friend does not have it easy being a so-called "model" parent (As I said, she does indeed suffer ridicule for it at times, but when confronted rises above the ridicule). She is EXTREMELY LUCKY in this "turkey burger economy" [quoting Tina Fey at the Emmys last year] to have the income, means and resources (which includes having a social network of friends and relatives of different genders, living varying kinds of lifestyles) to be a parent to her child. Her experience is, perhaps, a unique exception to the bigger picture. What I also must clarify is, her own lifestyle and situation is not for everyone. Neither is adding 8 more to the 6 children a single mother already has and decides to depend on Hollywood and the media to become a "money tree" for her.

As for my "ego," I'll check it at the door next time I post. Apologies for getting carried away ...

Is this really about choice?

I'm all down with this women having the right to have eight children and to raise all fourteen. My only issue comes with the fact that since she has had these children she is now trying to sell her story for $2 million dollars and hiring agents and managers. One has to wonder if this is less about the right to reproduce and the right to make a buck off your family (Kate and Jon: Plus Eight, etc; etc.) for her financial gain.

Yeah, I don't really buy

Yeah, I don't really buy either that this was about The Children. *cue heavenly chorus*

I think it was, from the first, about HER. And now we'll reward her insanity by gawking at them on TV.

She's either a) insane b) an attention whore c) both.

The kids will have a great life at her expense, I am sure. I hope she once she becomes a "childcare expert on Oprah" she puts a good chunk away for therapy.

Don't know if someone already posted this

But I read recently that Nadya (I believe that's her name) had told reporters recently that she'd always wanted to have a huge family to make up for the loneliness and isolation she felt growing up as an only child. She said she "longed for certain connections and attachments with another person that... I really lacked, I believe, growing up."

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/7873890.stm

So she said it right there...this was purely selfish and not about The Children (I liked the cue heavenly chorus thing by the way:P) Though she has said that she wants to go back to school in the fall and I've read that her parents have lost a house trying to help her out. I also think it's horridly selfish that not even a month after these kids are born, she's offering to sell her family (pretty much) to TLC or anyone else that wants to showcase them. It's not about the children at all.

IVF

Sure, she made a choice, but was it a good choice? Her declining a selective reduction wasn't what bothered me. What bothered me is why she chose to undergo IVF again and have SIX embryos implanted, knowing what could result, knowing that she's in financial dire straits, knowing that she's going to be a single mom, knowing she still has her education that she wants to complete. Choosing to have children is one thing, but being responsible about it is another. She isn't responsible in the least bit.

And what kills me is that she obviously paid a LOT more money to have more kids when that money could have gone to help raise her OTHER kids! What about her children? I'm thinking about how her children are going to fare because of this. Her hospital bill is going to cost between $1.5 and $3 million dollars. Who is going to pay for that? And what about her parents, who she is living with, who have been helping her raise her other children?

She's clearly only thinking about what she wants. She says that all she ever wanted was to have children, so why not adopt? Why not become a kindergarden teacher? Why have 14? Also, she says how she had such a miserable childhood being an only and how she felt unloved, well how on earth is a single mother going to give love to 14 children when she has to have two jobs to feed and clothe them? They don't even have a father to give them the attention they're going to need. And they're more than likely to have physical and mental disabilities because of how premature they were and because they're octuplets. Having one disabled child is difficult enough, what if more than one were disabled?

Honestly, this whole thing makes me sick. This woman should not be praised for having 14 children alone and through IVF. Choice may be choice, but not all choices are good choices.

Kids for Profit

This is one of the saddest news stories in awhile. This irresponsible woman is probably going to get hundreds of endorsement deals, and tons of support and money from networks/charities/etc. And for what? She popped out some babies? I'm all for women being able to make their own choices, but in my opinion, some choices are just really irresponsible. She already has an autistic daughter at home, whom her parents are taking care of. I just can't stand the thought that so much money goes towards couples (or in this case, singles) who squeeze some out. I love babies. I can't wait to have babies. But babies are not the end all/be all. They're kids, a normal part of society. Since when did we start putting these people on pedestals for having 18 kids? It's ridiculous!!!

My sister watches all those stupid TLC shows- her favorite one is Jon&Kate. I got through about 3 minutes before I realized I wasted 3 minutes of my life. That's not entertainment. They make thousands, if not more, for each episode. These people are exploiting their children for money! I was reading about Nadya "demanding" $2mil from Oprah to raise her kids. Why would someone in their right mind PAY this woman just because she had children? So, if she gets that money, imagine what having MORE kids will do for her! She's going to make more than teachers, more than doctors, more than lawyers... and for what? Doing something that women do every day, just on a larger (and more irresponsible) scale. My roommate and I were flipping through and we saw the one about the family with 17 and 1 on the way- those poor children. Bringing more children than you can handle into the world is just plain, downright irresponsible- especially in the day of hundreds of birth control options.

My biggest wonder is: why isn't her mother kicking her out of the house? She has already spoken out about how upset she is about her daughters choices- Nayda's talking about going back to school in the next year. Guess who's going to be watching the children? Her parents are enabling her by letting her stay in the house.

Ugh. The worst part is I know that she is going to be getting a ton of assistance with these children, financially. What about every other mother who has been responsible and could use a little assistance? What about the fathers who bail out, never paying child support? Where is the help for these women? Nonexistent. So here's the lesson we're teaching young women. Have 14 kids, and people will be lining up at your door with handouts. Sick.

Risks anyone?

It is sick. I've enjoyed all the comments that people have posted. What the media also doesn't address are the unbelievable risks in doing something like this. We hear that she had eight, but will all be ok? Will we hear about the ones with cerybl palsy? The chances of having seven or eight babies that are all healthy, without disabilities, is very low. Having three at once is a big deal and the risks associated with one of them having disabilities is statistically, high. Eight? The human body is not made to carry more than 2. It just isn't. So the choice. I agree that the woman has the right to the choice, but the problem with this is her first choice to put that many embroys in her. And it was her choice. The Dr. didn't force her. They provide recommendations on your chances to have one child. I recently went through the whole IVF process. Its amazing to be able to get pregnant and have that choice. But its not an exact science, as I learned. After being told that I had a less than 1% chance that more than one would take, they put in 4 and now I've got 3 little ones growing in me. So much for their statistics. The advice I have been getting varies, with IVF Dr.s saying reduce to 2 to perionologists explaining the high risks with 3 and risks of reducing too. So, when I hear of 8, I can't believe it. It is crazy, that woman is sick, and so is her creepy IVF Dr. And to have this somehow be celebrated - somewhat - is so bizarre. So here are the risks with 3 (and then imagine 8!): have high risks of one being disabled (told to understand and plan as it might happen), all being premature (guaranteed), c-section, stopping work at 20 weeks, high medical bills because they are guaranteed to be in NICU for at least some time and likely the mother will be put in the hospital for weeks (not always, but often), bedrest, then the costs and the fact you only have two boobs... guaranteed some formula for all of them, 3 of many baby items.. now 8... with already having 6... and only one parent to take care of them? And a strong chance one or more will be disabled (cerbyl palsy, blindness, lung, heart problems..) She was not thinking about reality or what is best for the lives she brought into the world. ARG!

Mark my words, she won't be

Mark my words, she won't be getting any freebies. People are already saying how they plan to boycott any company who gives her free shit. Unfortunately, her children are suffering as a result. People hate her. People are criticizing her left and right, and if any company knows what's good for it, it won't touch her with a 10-foot pole.

And amen to your last paragraph, rachel.

Did anyone notice if they saw any of the Ann Curry interview?

That she appears to have had plastic surgery on her face to make her look more like ... yes ... Angelina Jolie??

Wonder what Jolie herself would think of her ... not that I particularly care.

Plastic surgery?

My guess is yes. I saw a before picture of her and she looked totally different. Her nose and lips especially.

Does she just put this on her credit card?

Um, I can barely pay my mortgage each month. And I have ONE kid, and a partner with a job, and a job myself.

How is she paying for all this under-the-table fertility treatments, and possibly, plastic surgery?

"Selfishness"

"She says that all she ever wanted was to have children, so why not adopt?" Speaking as an adoptive mother, adoption is neither interchangeable with birthing a biological child nor is it a "less selfish" choice than producing children through pregnancy.
I and other adoptive parents make this decision, because we want to become parents, not because we want to extend charity and do good works.
Choice means choice. Why did my spoiled, rich acquaintance sleep around with numerous unknown men, use abortion as birth control, have 3 abortions, fall in love, get pregnant by that guy to avoid losing him from her life altogether and then give birth to his child saying that "After all, I don't want to have a fourth abortion?"
Who knows, but her series of bad choices, non-feminist choices, were her choice, not Dick Cheney's.

I'm another one who can't get on the All Choices Are Equal bus

As a feminist and someone who is concerned about the environment and the well-being of children, I cannot subscribe to the notion that all decisions regarding procreation are equal and value-neutral. If I use contraception or get an abortion, I am making a personal decision that only affects me (since it goes without saying that I do not subscribe to weird notions that fetuses are human or that sperm are sacred). OTOH, if I carry a pregnancy to term, I am making a decision that affects other people, not the least of whom is the child I am bringing into the world. So it's not unreasonable to expect me to have done some due diligence before making my decision. My personal freedom should end where another person begins, IMHO. Of course, I'm not suggesting government regulation of how many children a woman can have or who can have them. And yes, I realize that the subject is so fraught with issues of race and socio-economic inequity, not to mention conservative memes about welfare and government programs, so it's understandable that many feminists will take the All Choices Are Equal stance. But let's not kid ourselves. They're NOT.

I’m disappointed by many

I’m disappointed by many of the comments that have been posted so far. A large portion of them seem to have fallen into two camps. First, there are the commentators who claim that there is a difference between this woman’s case and the right to abortion simply because this woman now “affects” them and other “responsible” citizens by having children. This is an outrageous claim. She affects you and the millions of other Americans personally? How is that? Well, it has been suggested that she affects people financially. According to estimates the number of children who receive welfare aid (through the AFDC) is between 7-9 million. Now if we add 14 children to that, how much does that “affect” the total population of tax paying adults? It doesn’t. Do the math people -- claiming that she is financially irresponsible and forcing the rest of us to pay an oh so heavy burden is completely bogus. A problem arises when large portions of the population decide to follow this woman’s route and have large numbers of children. Guess what? That isn’t happening! The total fertility rate is still around 2 and that’s the only thing that matters. So everyone who claims that this woman is financially irresponsible should go take a long hard look at the hundredth of a penny extra they have to pay yearly and wonder why they’re so worried about it.
The second claim that seems to be making the rounds is that this woman is somehow crazy or stupid. It’s funny how humanity always falls back to its old ways when it gets the chance. We see something strange, something different, something we don’t understand and immediately we react with fear, disgust and outrage. Look at the lepers everyone! THEY are obviously sinners cursed by god. Look at the Muslims everyone! THEY are heathens who have defiled sacred land. Look at the Native Americans! THEY are primitive, uneducated, and need to be “re-educated”. Look at the blacks! THEY are destined for slavery, because they are inferior. Look at the Jews! THEY are more successful, they must cheat be cheating us. Look at the mother of 14 children! She is swindling society and must be stopped! Look at ourselves. We are always thirsting to find somebody, anybody, to mock and criticize because we can’t bear to look inside ourselves and realize that perhaps we are wrong. Do any of you know this woman? Have any of you even met her? Been friends with her? Taught her? Raised her? Lived with her? Do any of you have the arrogance to claim that you can judge this woman simply because a news article you glanced over in 20 minutes says that she is an irresponsible lunatic? None of us know this woman’s story. I don’t pretend to claim to understand her or her motives, and neither should anyone else. Maybe she is in fact crazy, maybe she is irresponsible, maybe she is stupid, but the best any of us can guess is a shot in the dark. How can you condemn this woman to hang in the noose of public opinion simply because you cannot fathom what she did?
In the end it doesn’t really matter because in a year this woman will no longer be known. She’ll be just another oddball news story that happened to grab headlines for a week. What concerns me is the lack of forethought present in the debate over this issue. I don’t claim to defend a side, but what I AM trying to do is point out the logical fallacies and fear mongering that is rampant in forums like this. Please, think about who this woman is, beyond the headline and the story. She’s a person -- with a story, and you can’t write a review by opening a book to a random page and reading a few paragraphs.

choice or no choice

It sounds like she only had the right to choice if she choose the right choice. Its like freedom of speech. You can only say it if it is okay to say. That is not freedom to me. I wish her good luck.
"You call me a bitch like its a bad thing..."

love it

First of all, I love your magazine. Second, I totally agree, and think that the right to choose has a different meaning to different people. It is her choice, even if we think it may be wrong.

The Argument

It just seems so crazy that this issue is still being argued. Unfortunately the only solution is to allow people to make their own decisions regarding their life and their family. There really is no other way. Perhaps education will ultimately guide them into making proper decisions.

Resumse of Viveka Nand Singh (Civil Engineer)

I'm not a fan of people who have lots and lots of children, whether they are rich or poor, partnered or single, stable or crazy. I am the sort who prefers a few intense, deep relationships vs. a raft of superficial acquaintances. Seeing this woman, or folks like the Duggars, who have children that are literally lost in the herd, makes me depressed. When I think of my own family relationships, of the relatives I have who don't really know me - and my family isn't big - and then I lay that onto one of these humungous families, I feel sad. I feel for the kids like me in that mob.
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