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