Octomom as Reproductive Lightning Rod
Do the prolife and prochoice sides in L.A. finally agree on something?
By Tina Dupuy
Published on April 01, 2009 at 7:03pm
Suleman’s mother snapped back, referring to the embryos her daughter had used: “They were frozen, and you didn’t have to do anything.”
“They were lives,” Suleman insisted.
In other circumstances, prolifers might have taken up her cause, proud of a media-magnet example of a woman who would not destroy any embryos for any reason. Indeed, prolife blogger Jill Stanek says that Suleman’s decision to not abort her babies or selectively reduce their numbers was prolife. But beyond that, Stanek states, “many prolifers believe the process of in-vitro fertilization is unhealthy and/or immoral.” She wrote on conservative World Net Daily, “I tend toward Catholic teaching that it is morally wrong to create the image of God in a Petri dish.”
Normally on the other side of such divides are prochoice advocates like Leslie Marshall, a Talk USA nationally syndicated host in Los Angeles. Instead, Marshall is stunned to see that Suleman, so vehemently opposed to abortion and the destruction of fetuses, is drawing the ire of the prolife movement.
“You would think she would be their [prolife] poster child,” Marshall says. “A woman who can’t afford these babies but had them, didn’t abort them — or murder them, as a prolifer would put it. … I was surprised they didn’t erect a monument or shrine to her.”
“Freedom, including women’s reproductive freedom, entails responsibility,” says Carole Lieberman, a prochoice Beverly Hills psychiatrist who filed the first complaint with Child Protective Services against Suleman. Lieberman tells L.A. Weekly, “Nadya is the poster child for women’s reproductive irresponsibility. Prochoice essentially means that she had the choice over her body in regard to reproduction. She had several options, including donating her frozen eggs or giving the babies up for adoption.”
“She illustrates the problem with ‘every sperm is sacred,’ ‘every egg is sacred,’” says Gloria Feldt, former president of Planned Parenthood. “She’s a poster child for irresponsible childbearing.”
For anyone keeping score, the antichoice people think Suleman made the wrong choice and the prochoice people think she made the wrong choice. Normally only in fiction would such a scenario unfold.
Some prolifers have blamed the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling for the situation, saying it has led to the erosion of social norms and cut men out of the picture. But Liz Owen, a prochoice activist in Valley Village since the early 1990s and mother of twins by in-vitro fertilization, says, “‘Prochoice’ should not be equated with bad medical decisions.”
Regardless of what the various sides think of Suleman’s resolve to have all those preemies, most of the feeble bundles are home after a reported $1 million in medical bills at Kaiser Hospital in Bellflower.
Suleman’s medical bills are giving the two sides in the abortion wars something to haggle over, while they seem to agree that the eight babies deserve society’s support now that they’re here — but with caveats.
Prochoicer Marshall says of the prolife crowd, “Now they complain because they have to pay for them? So … it’s okay to pay for the unborn, but once you’re born, forget it?”
Prolifer Stanek is equally ready to slam the other side, telling the Weekly, “They don’t think children should be conceived in adverse financial circumstances. But they aren’t giving Suleman a break. They’re mad she gets financial help from the government, and mad at the thought of her making money from book and movie deals.”
Holmes tries to explain that being prolife means more than caring about persuading women not to have abortions, saying her greater issue is that “life needs to be protected.” She draws a line at government assistance aimed at the parents, saying, “We don’t agree with welfare, though. The focus should be on the children.”
“None of this could have happened without you, Dr. Phil,” Allred said during the bizarre announcement segment of the show.
Now, the prochoice and prolife activists are launching into an argument about who is going to help Suleman more, both at this stage and in the difficult years to come. After all, as Suleman lectured her own mother in an Online video, “You can’t go back and alter the past.”
That fact has former Planned Parenthood president Feldt predicting that, “Of all the people that are going to help her, nine out of 10 of them will be prochoice.”
But Stanek takes a different tack, arguing via e-mail, “I don’t think you’ll find it is prolifers who so vehemently oppose Suleman’s decision. That said, we do believe in most circumstances children are best raised in a two-parent, married (mother and father) home. Yes, I think the children would be best off adopted out to married male/female couples. Furthermore, the female body and human psyche were not made to have and raise litters of children the same age (different from large families), another problem with in-vitro fertilization.”
Even on controversial wedge issues like this one, prolifer Holmes relays, “Yeah, the two sides can unite in some areas.”
The original story is here.