This editorial appeared in The (Tacoma) News Tribune.
Crazy doesn’t begin to define Nadya Suleman's story.
She's the California single mom who gave birth to eight babies while her first six waited at home, the unemployed psychiatric tech who collected state disability while building her brood, the baby-obsessed daughter who drove her mother to bankruptcy and her dad to Iraq.
Train wrecks invite gawkers, and the magnitude of this one just keeps growing. The PR agency Suleman hired from her hospital bed is having plenty of help keeping her name in the headlines. Each day brings new details that pique public incredulity.
The debacle is spectacle, and something more. It's not just disbelief or outrage driving blog buzz and office chatter and OMG e-mails from one mom to the next. The Suleman story has so many layers, and so many of those layers reopen big questions about parenting, reproductive freedom, medical ethics, societal obligations and celebrity culture.
Questions like: Is choosing to have a big family inherently irresponsible, or only when a single poor mother does it?
Is fatherlessness any less perilous for an only child than it is for 14 kids?
Should people have babies for selfish reasons – and is there any other kind of parenthood? Could it be tantamount to child endangerment when a mother chooses not to abort or "reduce?"
What does it say that megafamilies and litter-sized births are bankable oddities? Can Suleman be blamed if she thought she’d be able to support 14 kids on the millions she’d make from publicity? This is the age of “Jon and Kate Plus 8” and “17 Kids and Counting.”
Does society have a responsibility to help support super-sized families? Does it make a difference if those families are made naturally or through the help of science?
Finally, what constitutes medical malpractice when it comes to helping get women pregnant?
To read the complete editorial, visit The (Tacoma) News Tribune.