02 February 2009

Octuplets mum raises vexing questions

I've avoided talking about the octuplets mum..until now. For those of you who have been outside the realm of the mass media, a California woman has given birth to octuplets by caesarean section. It has been revealed, however, that this woman has six children already. Having conceived through IVF, when given the option to selectively abort some of the implanted embryos, she chose to keep all of them. I won't get into the ethics of this on the part of the doctor as this has been written about extensively elsewhere. I find two things very interesting.

1) I wrote about infertility the other day and how the pressure for women in their 20s to start thinking about their ticking biological clocks is a precedent established historically by the new 'empowerment' brought to women in a post-feminist world. I noted that as soon as certain groups of women gain power in the public sphere, institutional powers-that-be remind women of their 'duties' as wives and mothers and all of these moral panics about fertility start to emerge. Ironically, the next day, we hear about the octuplets mum and her growing brood of 14 children. If this women, is clearly, if not a little overzealously, fulfilling her procreative 'duty', why is it that the many commentators have gone to great lengths to establish this woman's insanity? It seems that fertility is only desirable when you are a 'good' woman or a desirable candidate for motherhood.

2) Although the octuplets mum has wanted to remain nameless, according to The Australian today, the unemployed woman is seeking $2 million from commercial sponsorship and media interviews in order to defray the costs of her children. She apparently has Oprah and Diane Sawyer on board for interviews.

What do we think? Would the picture be different if the octuplets mum was 38, happily married and employed?

Source: http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,24993121-2703,00.html

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