UPDATE: As their 19th baby fights for life, the Duggars confirm they want more kids.

I really didn’t intend to visit this story so soon after this post but it seems that we were just a little ahead of the game here at Mamamia. Today, People magazine in the US has come out with a cover story featuring the Duggars posing with their 19th baby Josie who was born 15 weeks premature and weighed only 1 lb. 6 oz. She is still 7 weeks before her due date.

Baby Josie is still in the neo-natal intensive care unit where, as any parent, friend or relative of a premmie knows, is a daily fight for survival. The long term health implications of her condition are not yet known. They might not be for years.

I’m on record as saying I think the Duggars are an extraordinary family. They seem like nice enough people even if they make choices about their life I would NEVER make. I’ve also always wondered how Michelle Duggar’s body has coped with 19 pregnancies. Now we know. Badly. So why would she risk her own life and the life and well-being of any future children by throwing the dice and having more kids?

They tell People magazine that they’re open to more pregnancies and that they’re not planning on changing their approach to contraception (none) because “”You can’t let fear direct your lives.” “The negatives don’t bother us” says Jim Bob, “Our hearts haven’t changed.”

According to People:

[The Duggars] remain committed to their belief that “each child is a gift from God” and are open to having more. Michelle knows how their position is likely to be viewed, particularly following Josie’s arrival. “When I say we would love more children, we open ourselves up for attack,” she admits.

Ok, now I’m struggling. As Margaret Hartman writes at Jezebel:

People quotes several medical sources in the article. They all say more pregnancies would be harmful to the Michelle and the child, including obstetrician Dr. Jeffrey Richardson, who warns that after four children, pregnancies become much more dangerous and, “postpartum hemorrhage, dysfunctional labor, preterm labor and early miscarriage are all risks.”

Of course, Michelle has a right to do whatever she wants with her body, but that doesn’t make her decision to appear in People any less questionable. It’s hard to say which is the stranger symbol of how our society treats pregnancy: Kourtney Kardashian’s baby appearing on four tabloid covers in his first month of life, or Josie Duggar appearing on the cover of People with a tube taped to her tiny face seven weeks before her due date. The public is curious about the Duggars and the TLC show 19 Kids and Counting provides some of the money to raise all those children, but do we need to read quotes from Michelle and Jim Bob about their reproductive decisions wrapped around the photo above, of their newest baby fighting for her life? It’s bad enough that tabloids are mainly focused on how fast moms lose the baby weight, but People has achieved a new low by focusing more on the novelty of a 20th Duggar that the health of the 19th.


When the whole fuss was made about Octomum, I did find myself wondering how the Duggars had always managed to escape scrutiny about their choices to have such a large family. As many MM readers have pointed out in the comments on this post, they are debt-free and manage to raise their children and do charity work without any government assistance (before you ask) and seem outwardly like a very lovely family.

But how many children is too many? I know many women with dozens less children than the Duggars who weigh up the consequences very carefully about the impact of a future child on their current family. What affect would Michelle’s death or the death of a baby or the responsibility of a child with severe health problems have on the other Duggar kids?

I find it difficult to understand (is it a faith thing?) what could make anyone risk that when they must already be pretty stretched emotionally, mentally, financially and PHYSICALLY.

Or is it really just nobody’s business?