All the Kids You Can Pay For

What's wrong with Octomom.

Everyone loves a baby - or, if you don't, you'd better never let on if you want to remain in polite company.

In today's world of people ensconced within a virtual "bubble" insulating them from any human contact with strangers, the presence of a small infant is one of the few remaining socially acceptable reasons to intrude on someone else's space.  "Oh, how cute!  Look, she's smiling!"

Science even tells us that women can instinctively detect a cute baby; apparently we're just wired that way.

Fair enough.  What about eight babies, though?

What about eight babies and six toddlers?

Currently luxuriating in her fifteen minutes of fame is Nadya Suleman, the new mother of octuplets.

When this story was first reported, it seemed to follow a similar path that we've heard before: congratulations to the lucky couple, showers of gifts from publicity-seeking companies nationwide, and appearances on all the usual fluff shows.  As things went along, though, it quickly became clear that Ms. Suleman was not your ordinary happy-family story.

For one thing, far from being a natural event, this extreme multiple pregnancy was very much the product of extreme science.  The multiple births were apparently the result of artificial in-vitro fertilization procedures, but the number of embryos implanted far exceeds the American Society for Reproductive Medicine's guidelines for safe medical practice.

The Right to Breed

According to modern feminism, Ms. Suleman is the sole and undisputed mistress of her own body, fully empowered to do with it what she pleases, is she not?  None of our opinion-makers would turn a hair if she had aborted some or all of the eight; she simply elected to exercise her "freedom of choice" the other way.

It's interesting to see online feminists wrestling with their revulsion, even as they admit that according to their most deeply held beliefs, what she does reproductively is none of their business.

From the conservative point of view, this seems sensible enough.  Of all the multifarious horrors of communism, one of the greatest is China's notorious one-child policy, enforced by mandatory abortions and sterilizations.  A government which controls your ability to reproduce is the very definition of totalitarian.

Calls to investigate the doctors who performed Ms. Suleman's IVF procedure may seem sensible, but what, exactly, did they do wrong?  They did exactly what she chose to pay them to do; she, the patient, is completely satisfied with their work; where's the beef?

To say that the doctors should be punished is to say that the government should have the power to forbid medical procedures that the patient wants to pay for and the doctor is willing to provide.  Isn't that the root of the fight against socialized medicine - that some people believe that government should not be making health decisions for people?

The Obligation to Pay

There have been massively-multiple births before without such a widespread negative response.  Why exactly is the reaction to this particular multiple birth so noticeably different from the norm?

In part, it's because Ms. Suleman has no husband.  She doesn't seem to have a steady boyfriend, though reports vary on this point - hence the need for IVF, with the assistance of a "friend" who apparently didn't care to impregnate her in the usual way.

Despite politically-correct acceptance of single motherhood, almost all of the left has had to admit over the past fifteen years that Dan Quayle was right: kids do far, far better with two natural parents than in any other form of family.  Barack Obama himself, in his book The Audacity of Hope, writes:

[C]hildren living with single mothers are five times more likely to be poor than children in two-parent households. Children in single-parent homes are also more likely to drop out of school and become teen parents, even when income is factored out. And the evidence suggests that on average, children who live with their biological mother and father do better than those who live in stepfamilies or with cohabiting partners.... In light of these facts, policies that strengthen marriage for those who choose it and that discourage unintended births outside of marriage are sensible goals to pursue. [emphasis added]

No baby, whether born or unborn, has any way of knowing whether they are "intended"; so why should this matter?  There's no doubt that Ms. Suleman fully intended and wanted this children, as she's said so repeatedly in interviews:

All I wanted was children. I wanted to be a mom. That's all I ever wanted in my life. I love my children.

This mother wanted the children.  She paid for a perfectly legal procedure to get the children.  No rational person wants the government to require that women obtain licenses before having children, yet without being able to put their finger on the complaint, it's pretty clear that most of America thinks that what happened in this case is a bad idea.  What to do?

The answer isn't what to do; it's what we need to stop doing.

Consider this contrast: Nobody much minds Angelina Jolie's constant additions to her family whether by birth or adoption despite the notorious instability of her relationships.  Would this furor have arisen if Bill Gates' wife added eight children to an existing six?  Of course not; we'd all be happy for them.

The Obligation to Pay

There we see both the problem and the solution.

As sane people, most Americans worry about any family of fourteen simply because we all know how much work kids are and we wonder how it's physically possible for a single parent to give all fourteen kids everything they need.  There have been large families throughout history, however, and they aren't conspicuously noted for disastrous results.

It's clear that single-parent homes are noted for disastrous results; but for government to attempt to ban fatherless children would be a cure far worse than the disease.

What we can fairly expect, though, is for government to stop subsidizing them.

As much as Ms. Suleman says she loves her 14 kids and for all that she might actually love them, there's no way she's going to foot the bill for them all.  You and I are going to pay her child care bills.  Fox News reports:

The Southern California mother of octuplets receives $490 a month in food stamps and three of her first six children are disabled and receiving federal assistance, her publicist confirmed Monday evening.   [emphasis added]

That's just for the first six; it's reasonable to suppose the total public subsidy will increase with the additional eight.  Her delivery hospital has already submitted the bill for close to a million dollars to Medi-Cal knowing full well they aren't going to be getting the money from her - as the article shows, she's using her money to employ a publicist.  Why worry about the cost of children when you can pawn the bills off on Uncle Sucker?

You and I paid her bills from before anyone had ever heard of this family.  Breitbart tells us:

Suleman received disability payments for an on-the-job back injury during a riot at a state mental hospital, collecting more than $165,000 over nearly a decade before the benefits were discontinued last year.  Some of the disability money was spent on in vitro fertilizations, which was used for all 14 of her children, Suleman said. Suleman said she also worked double shifts at the mental hospital and saved up for the treatments. She estimated that all her treatments cost $100,000.

She hurt her back on a state job badly enough to get $165,000 in disability payments, but not so badly she couldn't work double shifts, and she used her disability money to create another fourteen liabilities for the people of California and of the United States.

Enough.  Have we not learned that if you subsidize something, you get more of it?

Since Lyndon Johnson's so-called "Great Society", we have subsidized illegitimacy and excessive reproduction by the poor, and what do you know - we've gotten as much of it in return as ever we could want.

Bill Gates can have as many kids as he likes; he can buy them all Harvard doctorates out of petty cash.  If you can't afford kids, though, it's your own choice to have them - but it's time we stop paying for fatherless children.

Only then will we see people making serious decisions in a serious way.  If it doesn't cost you anything, why should you care?

Our underclass has learned this lesson full well about both reproduction and health care, and with each generation our social problems grow accordingly.

Enough, already.  When people on public assistance have children they can't support, put 'em up for adoption.

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other articles by Petrarch or other articles on Society.
Reader Comments
Whoa, wait a minute here--are you assuming that Miss Suleman PAID for the in-vitro fertilization procedure? On a government assistance income? I personally know a couple, married, who actually had this procedure done and they can tell you that this is not inexpensive. And even GOOD insurance policies will usually only cover it one time (or until one success is achieved). Are you telling me that Medicaid, which probably is all the health insurance Miss Suleman had, paid for the procedure? This can not be!! If it is true, THIS is the real problem--not that the doctors did what she wanted done or that she is raising them at our expense. People are making the crazy irresponsible choices they are making because we, the taxpayers, are enabling them to do so. Where is the outrage?
February 17, 2009 9:23 AM
"For one thing, far from being a natural event, this extreme multiple pregnancy was very much the product of extreme science"

Octuplets are NEVER a natural event. I did some research some time ago and discovered that there was no public record of a naturally-occuring octuplet pregnancy. I believe that the largest natural delivery was for quintuplets (5).
February 17, 2009 9:32 AM
The woman hurt her back? How the heck do you go through pregnancy that many times and with that many babies with a HURT BACK? The worst thing about pregnancy is the back pain.
February 17, 2009 9:38 AM
According to the articles referenced (and I admit, the truth isn't entirely clear), here is what seems to have happened.

Ms. Suleman received a large disability settlement from her state job, while continuing to work double shifts at that same job.

Using the cash from the settlement, as well as the income from her double shifts, she paid the IVF doctors with what was, to all appearances, her own money. In other words, the IVF doctors did not themselves send a bill to the state Medicaid, nor did she herself file for any sort of insurance reimbursement for the procedure.

Does this count as the taxpayer paying for her IVF, or not? You could fairly debate that point; but it seems clear that the taxpayers didn't foot the bill in any direct accounting sense.

Then, she went to the hospital to deliver the babies. THAT bill was, indeed, sent to the state Medicaid program - so the taxpayers paid the tremendous cost of this most unusual delivery.

And of course, it's been confirmed that she is receiving various state and federal welfare and disability payments for some or all of the children, since her income is well below the poverty line for a family that enormous. So this is an ongoing liability for at least the next 18 years.

Mary's question is a pretty good one. How can you get a large disability settlement but nevertheless still be able to not only do the job, but double shifts? Something smells fishy here - and that's why it's legitimate news, and should be looked into.
February 17, 2009 9:50 AM
Something is indeed fishy about the disability payments, but this situation is normal enough to be trite.

Bureaucracies gain stature by increasing their budget. The more people whom they declare to be disabled, the more money the disability bureaucrats get to play with. So they declare people disabled.

The NY Times had a series of articles about the Long Island Rail Road - it seems that 97% of railroad retirees collect disability payments on top of normal retirement.

The Times felt that an investigation was warranted but bureaucrats HATE to put each other in jail. Nothing happened.
February 17, 2009 10:04 AM

Yes, working while collecting benefits for being disabled from THAT VERY JOB is ridiculous. Either you're disabled and you need to collect benefits or you're not and you can work.

But that wasn't even my point. I was referring to the PREGNANCY itself. If this women had enough back pain to collect disability for 10 years, how in God's name did she do all these pregnancies. The act of pregancy, and I speak from experience, is horrifically painful on your back. From the 25th week on, it's hard to walk upright.

Either the pregnancies caused her back pain, in which case she shouldn't have received disability payments from her employer, or she lied about the disability because there's no way she would have been able to keep hurting herself to this level.
February 17, 2009 10:11 AM
Well, I'm not so sure she had "all these pregnancies." I get the impression from the somewhat vague news coverage she actually only had two pregnancies - but those two were doozies.

Regardless, your point is well taken, and simply underscores the likely disability fraud.
February 17, 2009 10:23 AM
How about her lunatic fertility doctor? Mary says that pregnancy causes extreme back pain. Shouldn't her doctor have seen her record and know that there was no way someone with that much pain could have handled pregnancy? Did he not care about her well being?
February 17, 2009 10:29 AM
The fact remains that she appears to have nad no back issues due to pregnancy. THEREFORE, one would assume that her disability claim was bogus. I know lots of "disabled" people for whom I resent maying disability. I suspect disability fraud is high. Maybe not 97% as stated above, but high.
February 17, 2009 10:39 AM
Unless there is something that I missed in one of the linked articles it could be that she worked double shifts before the back injury. Although the article that I saw talked about her back injury before the double shifts, seeming to imply that the double shifts were after the back injury it doesn't actually state anything specifically.

At this point though I don't have any idea in which order they appeared, just playing devils advocate.
February 17, 2009 10:59 PM
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