Everyone is talking about Nadya Suleman.
The 33-year-old California woman first made headlines last month when she gave birth to octuplets she conceived through in vitro fertilization. Then it was revealed that she is a single mother with no stable source of income and she already has six other kids.
Suleman had four single births and one set of twins through in-vitro fertilization before her history-making pregnancy, but she told NBC’s “Today” show that for each of her six pregnancies, six embryos were implanted.
Many folks started to blast Suleman for having so many children with no clear way to support them, including her mother, Angela Suleman, who called her daughter’s decision to have more babies “unconscionable.”
The birth of Suleman’s octuplets even have the government and fertility industry looking at the methods of IVF with more scrutiny. (IVF often results in multiple births because oftentimes several embryos are implanted to increase the chances for success.)
And yesterday it was reported Suleman has been getting death threats from people angry over the fact that she’s receiving public assistance to care for her 14 children.
So why is everyone making such a big deal out of Suleman and her clan of kids? Is it just because the public is concerned about the welfare of her children or is she being attacked because she’s an unmarried nonwhite woman?
Kenny Darter, co-moderator and writer for the blog Hate On Me thinks it’s the latter. In an insightful post Darter writes, “White ladies have a bunch of kids and get TV shows. A brown woman pumps out eight babies and gets scorn – and maybe a few high-profile interviews.”
Darter points out that in shows like “Jon & Kate Plus 8,” which tracked the trials of the Gosselin family as they manage their eight children, the couple is praised and viewers send money. “17 Kids and Counting” another reality show about a couple with 18 children, focuses on the family’s strong faith.
Meanwhile Suleman’s situation has been called grotesque, a freak circus act and a medical disaster.
Honestly, it’s taken me a while to write about this because I’m not sure how I feel about Suleman’s situation. I do think the commentary would be a lot different if she were white and very, very different if she were white and married. I don’t doubt that race plays a role in this and the fact that she’s receiving death threats makes me sick.
I do think, however, she was being selfish in deciding to have more children knowing she had no clear way to support them. I’m not saying only the wealthy should be allowed to have several children, but my husband and I don’t feel comfortable having one child right now because our bank account doesn’t look the way we want it to.
Suleman claims she will find a way to care for her children. And maybe she will. Many of us are the products of single mothers or low-income couples who managed to keep us warm, feed and clothed despite the odds.
Furthermore, there’s a chance Suleman had no idea she’d have so many babies. Her previous IVF procedures resulted in single births and one set of twins, so she probably thought she’d just be adding one or two more kids to her family.
Still, supporting even seven or eight kids with shaky income is beyond tough, let alone caring for 14. So I maintain that Suleman’s decision was a selfish one and my opinion would be no different if she were white.
What do you think? What are your thoughts on Suleman’s decision to have more children? Do you think she’s being attacked partly because of her race?