Nadya Suleman and the Choice We Never Respect

I have a new post up at Global Comment

When life begins is a question that has continuously been up for debate in our social discourse. If life begins at conception, do women have the right to terminate a pregnancy even though the foetus is incapable of living outside of the womb? Pro Life and Pro Choice groups continue to argue over who has the right to decide the aforementioned question with little actual conversation about what to do with the children already living.

We recognize that children need the protection of adults to survive and yet there is much social rejection of responsiblity for the most vulnerable members of our society. Children often get caught between our understanding that we as humans are communal creatures and are therefore interdependent, and the social discourse that we have created to support our capitalist economy that privileges individualism.

Nadya Suleman and her octuplets are the living manifestation of our social conflict. On January the 26th of this year Ms. Suleman added 8 new babies to a family that already included 6 children. She is a single mother that currently resides with her parents.

Much of the media coverage regarding this event surrounds the debate as to whether or not it was medically ethical to implant eight embryos in a woman of her age, who already had six children. Though Ms. Suleman was offered the opportunity to terminate a number of the pregnancies, when it was discovered how many were viable, she refused.

No one pauses to consider that Ms. Sulemans approval of what occurred indeed legitimized the events:

She was not forced to carry these babies to term; it was an active decision on her part. If, as feminists, we can argue that women have the right to choose to have an abortion, then the right to choose motherhood should be equally validated; furthermore the right to privacy extends to Ms. Suleman’s decision as well.

Choice does not only involve abortion, it also extends to actively seeking to reproduce. While we may feel dismay at the number of children Ms.Suleman has conceived, the moment we begin to question whether she had the right to make this decision, we invalidate the argument that reproduction is a private issue and that a womans body should at all times be under her control.

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