I’ve come to defend Nadya Suleman. Yes, it’s pretty lonely over here. Can’t see anyone for miles. But I’ve been having one of those ‘has-everyone-lost-their-minds’ moments and now I must speak.
Ready? Let’s go.
Facts first. Nadya is the 33-year-old American woman who gave birth to octuplets in January. She already had six kids, all born after IVF treatment using the donor sperm of a male friend. Currently, Nadya is not financially independent. She receives some government assistance and support from her parents. She is single.
Since the octuplets’ birth, Nadya is also the victim of an unprecedented international outpouring of hate, rage and scorn. She has received hundreds of death threats. Oh wait. Maybe it’s not unprecedented. Maybe other people have been the target of similar mass public outrage. People like murderers, serial killers and child abusers. People who have committed unspeakable crimes. People like that. And this is the part I find utterly astonishing; the part that makes me want to shake the world and shout, ‘WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU ALL?”
Because when you drill down, Nadya Suleman’s heinous crime appears to be this: she’s had ‘too many’ children. I’m not sure who decides the correct number. Is it Peter Costello? Centrelink? God?
And how do you define ‘too many’? Is it more children than you can afford to send to private schools? More children than you can feed and clothe? Or more children than you can love? Because by those measures, there are plenty of parents for whom even one child is too many.
Nadya does seem a little bit crackers, I’ll give you that. Any woman in her situation who believes it’s a good idea to keep having babies is naive at best, irresponsible at worst. Let’s call her ‘recklessly optimistic’.
But here is a key point you may have missed (I did, at first): NADYA SULEMAN NEVER SET OUT TO HAVE OCTUPLETS (oh I’m shouty today, aren’t I…).
This detail is crucial so pay attention. In each of her pregnancies, Nadya was implanted with six embryos. Five times, this resulted in one baby and once, in twins. Still, she wanted just one more child. So last year, her six remaining frozen embryos were implanted and she had every reason to believe this might result in a single live birth.