Eight (more) is more than enough

A combination picture shows (clockwise from top L) Josiah, Makai, ...

Reuters photo

And eight more make 14: “Octuplet(s) mom” Nadya Suleman, whose latest eight children, born last month in Southern California, are pictured above, now has a total of 14 children yet is single and unemployed. But she doesn’t exist in a vacuum and she’s just a part of the problem.

I haven’t chimed in yet on the Southern Californian “octuplet(s) mom,” 33-year-old Nadya Suleman, but she’s in the news (still), so I suppose that it’s time to put my three cents in.

Suleman is represented in two of Yahoo! News’ most-viewed news stories today: “Threats Send California Octuplets Mom into Hiding” and “Taxpayers May Have to Cover Octuplet Mom’s Costs.” 

From the latter news story:

LOS ANGELES – A big share of the financial burden of raising Nadya Suleman’s 14 children could fall on the shoulders of California’s taxpayers, compounding the public furor in a state already billions of dollars in the red.

Even before the 33-year-old single, unemployed mother gave birth to octuplets last month, she had been caring for her six other children with the help of $490 a month in food stamps, plus Social Security disability payments for three of the youngsters. The public aid will almost certainly be increased with the new additions to her family.

Also, the hospital where the octuplets are expected to spend seven to 12 weeks has requested reimbursement from Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program, for care of the premature babies, according to the Los Angeles Times. The cost has not been disclosed.

Word of the public assistance has stoked the furor over Suleman’s decision to have so many children by having embryos implanted in her womb.

“It appears that, in the case of the Suleman family, raising 14 children takes not simply a village but the combined resources of the county, state and federal governments,” Los Angeles Times columnist Tim Rutten wrote in Wednesday’s paper. He called Suleman’s story “grotesque.”

On the Internet, bloggers rained insults on Suleman, calling her an “idiot,” criticizing her decision to have more children when she couldn’t afford the ones she had and suggesting she be sterilized.

“It’s my opinion that a woman’s right to reproduce should be limited to a number which the parents can pay for,” Charles Murray wrote in a letter to the Los Angeles Daily News. “Why should my wife and I, as taxpayers, pay child support for 14 Suleman kids?”

She was also berated on talk radio, where listeners accused her of manipulating the system and being an irresponsible mother….

Suleman’s spokesman, Mike Furtney, urged understanding….

Furtney said he, Suleman and her family had received death threats and had been getting messages that were “disgusting things that would never be proper to put in any story.”

In her only media interviews, Suleman told NBC’s “Today” she doesn’t consider the public assistance she receives to be welfare and doesn’t intend to remain on it for long.

Also, a Nadya Suleman Family Web Site has been set up to collect donations for the children. It features pictures of the mother and each octuplet and has instructions for making donations by check or credit card.

Suleman, whose six older children range in age from 2 to 7, said three of them receive disability payments. She told NBC one is autistic, another has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, known as ADHD, and a third experienced a mild speech delay with “tiny characteristics of autism.” She refused to say how much they get in payments.

In California, a low-income family can receive Social Security payments of up to $793 a month for each disabled child. Three children would amount to $2,379.

The Suleman octuplets’ medical costs have not been disclosed, but in 2006, the average cost for a premature baby‘s hospital stay in California was $164,273, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Eight times that equals $1.3 million.

For a single mother, the cost of raising 14 children through age 17 ranges from $1.3 million to $2.7 million, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture….

[California state] Sen. Sam Aanestad, R-Grass Valley, an oral surgeon who sits on the Health Committee, said that once a state Medical Board investigation is complete, lawmakers could review issues from government oversight to standards in fertility treatment.

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. She 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….

In the NBC interview, Suleman said she will go back to California State University, Fullerton in the fall to complete her master’s degree in counseling, and will use student loans to support her children. She already owes $50,000 in student loans, she told NBC. She said she will rely on the school’s daycare center and volunteers.

Suleman does strike me as a head case, one of those women who feels incredibly empty and feels that only infants can ease — temporarily — her feeling of emptiness, but of course she shouldn’t be the recipient of death threats, assuming that she truly has received death threats.

And we need to examine Suleman within her social context and not pretend that she exists in a vacuum.

For instance, I hope that the physician or physicians who agreed to help her to have even more children that she can’t take care of are investigated and disciplined. Clearly this physician or these physicians were more interested in making $$$ than they gave a shit about the ramifications of what they were helping Suleman to do.

And Suleman’s case is a grand opportunity to examine the fact that Americans seem to love to jump knee-jerkedly all over so-called “welfare moms” while the U.S. Treasury is looted of hundreds of billions of dollars by war profiteers such as Dick Cheney’s Halliburton.

Years and years of Repugnican propaganda have made a huge chunk of Americans believe that it’s perfectly OK for war profiteers to use billions and billions and billions of our tax dollars to maim and kill Muslim and Arab civilians, including babies and children, benefiting only the war profiteers in the process (and causing such blowback as 9/11), yet to actually spend a single taxpayer’s penny on a poor American in need is “socialism” or “communism” or the like.

The enemy is not “welfare moms.” The enemy is the traitors like the rogues of the unelected, treasonous Bush regime, who looted the U.S. Treasury of billions and billions and billions of dollars that went not to Americans’ needs, but to the BushCheneyCorp’s cronies’ greed.

But it sure seems safer to bash a single unemployed single mother than to take on the stupid white men’s military-industrial complex, doesn’t it? Besides, the traitors who loot the U.S. Treasury via the military-industrial complex assure us that they are doing so for “our” “national security” and for “our” “safety” and for “freedom” and for “democracy” and for Jesus and God and for puppies and kittens. And we stupidly believe them.

But Suleman and all parents must take responsibility, too. A huge problem of the crumbling American empire is that Americans want to believe that they exist in a vacuum and that what they do (or don’t do) doesn’t affect anyone else.

Bullshit. Everything is connected. Even if all of Suleman’s children receive the basic physical necessities of survival, how can 14 children possibly receive the attention from her that they would need in order to grow up to be functional, fairly content adults?

When children are not raised properly, do they not become involved in such things as substance abuse and crime? Do they not inherit unemployment and perhaps even homelessness? Do they not possibly end up incarcerated if their problems are that severe? Do they not become dependent upon the system, too?

Having children isn’t only about providing for their physical needs, and I don’t only pick on Suleman; as I noted in October 2005 when I wrote about the 18-child Duggar family (who had 16 children then), “there’s no fucking way that those children could get the time and attention that they need in order to become mentally and spiritually healthy adults. It’s just not physically possible. Even if the parents were model parents, it’s a matter of fucking physics.”

Bringing a child into the world has all kinds of repercussions. The child needs to be fed and sheltered and clothed from cradle to grave. And the child needs education and health care, among many other things. Often the parent or parents can’t cover those costs and so the rest of us do — yet the parents never asked us for our permission to have to support their children.

The child, when he or she grows up, economically contributes to the world, too, you say. True, but with six billion people and counting, the planet can support only so many human beings. You can’t just keep adding an indefinite number of fish to an aquarium without most or even all of the fish eventually dying — so why do we deludedly believe that you can just keep adding an indefinite number of people to the planet? 

We Americans need to stop thinking selfishly as individuals and start looking at the bigger picture, or there won’t be a bigger picture in which we can exist as individuals any longer.

And looking at the bigger picture means not just lambasting Nadya Suleman, but addressing the incredible disconnect within the United States of America, where everyone acts as though what he or she does or does not do does not affect anyone else.

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