A Blog devoted to progressive politics, environmental issues, LGBT issues, social justice, workers' rights, womens' rights, and, most importantly, Cats.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Health: Subjects Guaranteed To Make Me Unpopular

Overpopulation, Abortion, and Fertility Treatments are the triune deity of today's topic, I'm afraid. Just raise any one or more of these three as a topic of conversation in your venue of choice and prepare to be pelted with, let's call them ungracefully aging fruit and vegetable matter, if not invective and threats against life and limb.

What the fuck, why not live dangerously? I need the excitement. (You try sitting in an eyrie-like bedroom for a year with the very rare trip down the stairs to visit with friends or, worse yet, doctors and lawyers.)

So here goes. Today's topic happily combines all three abuse-inviters, and if you're going to comment, just remember, this here is my territory and while I am absolutely committed to freedom of speech, I have no problem retaliating in kind when someone, anyone, attempts to kick my behind in a hostile fashion. Respectful disagreement is, OTOH, always welcome.

Alright, alright, I'm cuttin' to the chase already, geeze. Nadya Suleman. Who, you ask? Surely everybody from Monterey to Mauritania has heard of Ms. Nadya Suleman, who recently delivered eight babies in California? The media lickspittles, terrified of incurring the venom of the rightwingnut insane elements, keep referring to the sproggen as healthy. Well, according to my research, they were born 9 weeks premature, and anyone with a basic knowledge of biology, anatomy, human health, or medicine knows quite well that the earlier before term a fetus is expelled or delivered, the worse its chances at life. We now have technology that will keep a 1.x-lb preemie alive, but nature did not intend such creatures to live, so what we end up with is a disabled human at some point along the way. Severity of disability depending on various factors, but usually proportionate to the unripeness of said oven-bun. Incidentally, some of Nadya's octuplets weighed less than 2 lb at birth.

In case you're one of the seven people on the planet who hasn't heard of Nadya Suleman, here is all the information you'll ever need.

Nadya Suleman is 33 years old. She lives with her parents, Edward and Angela Suleman, in the community of Whittier, a bumpule in the megacarcinoma of Los Angeles. It would appear from the facts available via teh Googles that Ms. Suleman (and, of course, her parents) is an Iraqi Christian. Her father, Edward, who is in his sixties, is a former Iraqi army dude. He continues to work with the U.S. Army as a translator in Iraq. Her mother Angela is a retired schoolteacher. Reasonably intelligent, well-educated people, wouldn't you say? And clearly very fond (deity alone knows why) and supportive of their daughter.

Nadya is an only child, and apparently always wanted siblings, which her mother declined to provide. Apparently, this caused Nadya to attempt to break world records in procreation. Nadya's name was originally Nadya Doud, which is why it wasn't easy to discover the facts about her immediately. Sometime in the late 90s, she married one Marcos Gutierrez. She left him four years later and returned to the parental home. There were no children born of the marriage. Around that time, she legally changed her name to Nadya Suleman. She divorced Gutierrez last year.

She has a degree in child and adolescent development which, I suppose, is a good thing. Pity she didn't get a degree in something like the effects of overpopulation, or basic biology (you know, a human body takes around two years to recover from each pregnancy, and all that). She started a master's degree in counselling, but dropped out early last year — presumably to start work on her current litter.

Apparently, shortly after that, Nadya's mother, Angela, filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy involving a house that she had bought as an investment. Debts involved in that action totalled a little over a million dollars. However, Mrs. Suleman and her daughter Nadya still own several properties in California.

At some time or another, Nadya was employed at a fertility clinic. There is a rumour that she was injured on the job, and received a settlement that enabled her to afford the (expensive~!) treatment that makes her the mother of a potential sports team.

Now here's where things get very squirrely (no offense intended to squirrels, who can't help being crazy little rodents with megaquantities of teh cute). Nadya has six previous children, all under the age of 7 years. (7, 6, 5, 3, and 2-y.o. twins.) The oldest four were conceived with the assistance, apparently, of a sperm donor named David Solomon.

Nadya's mother, Angela Suleman, claims that all the children were fathered by the same sperm donor. (Who in the universe would be so batshit-crazy as to donate 14 times to the same loony tune? Or if he donated only once, did she just get all 14 started at the same time and stick them in the deep freeze for thawing whenever she felt like having a baybee? Is this woman the poster child for Seriously Wrong Wrongitude?)

Ed and Angela Suleman are divorced, but continue to live together, no doubt in the interest of providing the auxiliary child care that this dingbat needs. (No, I'm not sorry to be so judgmental. A little judgment, applied early and often, would have ensured that cases such as this don't happen. They shouldn't happen.)

Incidentally, Solomon and Suleman are (obviously) the same name. So who is this David Solomon dude? Why isn't he stepping up to the cameras for HIS 15 minutes of fame? How come Ms. Suleman chose not to have Mr. Gutierrez' babies? Or did Mr. Gutierrez precipitously flee when he realized her potential as a baby manufactory?

After all, her father has fled to Iraq, preferring the comfort of a war zone and some chance of death or dismemberment to the joys of hanging around with 14 screaming children. Her mother is threatening to leave the family home before Nadya returns, thereby saddling the imprudent one with all fourteen bundles of joy or, more likely, effluvia (good luck with that, girlie).

Now, the fact is that reproductive endocrinologists, which is what we call folks who, for a living, help the infertile to reproduce, have to adhere to certain standards, in this country, in order to continue practising their brand of medicine. I know lots of people have their knickers in a knot and want to personally hang the IVF folks who made Nadya Suleman's plethora of pregnancies possible, but folks, really. There's more here than meets the eye.

KevinMD says, at his fine blog, while admitting that the subject is outside his own field, nevertheless raises some interesting questions and provides us with links that might help explain exactly how this woman ended up with her own football team of sprog.

Mind you, what has occurred is statistically very rare indeed. A woman carried to term eight fetii, which have ALL survived. AFAICT, this is only the second recorded case in the US.

Over at Fertility File, a reproductive endocrinologist and med school professor with a passion for math and statistical analysis is happy to give you the likelihood of success of Nadya's pregnancy. Dr. Lee combines wit and wisdom with humanity, and provides a good take on this woman's drama.

So how exactly did Nadya Suleman end up with 14 IVF babies? You don't have to be a genius to realize that there is something very wrong with a woman who keeps having children without any visible means of support, economic or practical. Does she really think her mother will be alive for the next 33 years or so to assist with childcare and support?

She already has one autistic child (it's not clear which of the previous six it is, but it's most likely to be a child over 3 years of age, as the diagnostic tools are unable to accurately spot autism in children below that age). Autistic children are a handful. Depending on the severity of the child's autism, it might never be able to live an independent life, and will always need some level of care and assistance.

Moreover, the more premature a child, the greater its chances of autism, according to a recent study. From the article:
Pre-term birth is associated with a long list of health risks for a baby such as mental retardation, cerebral palsy, lung problems and vision and hearing loss.
Who is going to pay for the medical care that these children will require?

In addition, safe delivery of the children required 46 staff at the Kaiser Permanente Bellflower hospital. That has to cost a bundle. Who is going to pay the cost of delivery and hospitalization of the mother and children? The mother certainly does not seem in a position to pay.

She showed up at Kaiser three months pregnant, at which time she was advised that she could selectively reduce some of her fetii in order to give the others a better chance. She refused selective reduction, doubtless because of her Christian beliefs, which, apparently, don't extend to being able to feed what you breed.

So the rest of us are now stuck with eight kids who will have impairments at various levels that we taxpayers need to support (for those of you already fuming, consider that each healthy child costs about $1 million to raise, not including those full-potential-tapping pluses like music and dance lessons, or top-notch educational opportunities) over the next 18 years.

Consider the autistic sibling. Consider the mother's employment qualifications and status. Consider that she's going to be way too busy taking care of the kids to even look for work for at least 6 years, when the last of the sprog toddle off to pre-school. Consider that her parents, who appear to be saddled with the financial support of the brood, are in their sixties and might not live out another decade without increasingly expensive health problems or that old nemesis of us all, death.

Whatever happens, don't blame the staff of Kaiser Permanente, who actually managed to save this woman's life (instead, pray that they tied her tubes while she was unconscious so she can never do this again). They had nothing to do with getting her pregnant.

The most interesting aspect of this littering is the reaction to it. You'd think all those god-'n-gun conservatives who want all uterii regulated to ensure maximum fruitfulness would be falling over themselves to aid this woman, no?

No. Take a look around the InnerTubes if you dare, but there's some mighty venomous invective being hurled her way. A lot of it has to do with the fact that she's not white. Some are accusing her of personally trying to undo the Holocaust, and have to be gently reminded that she's not Jewish (you'd think Angela and Ed being her parents' names would've been a huge fucking clue). Some insist she's a Palestinian despite the stunning lack of evidence therefor.

Some want her summarily deported; others want her children forcefully removed; still others are campaigning to boycott any kinderjunk producer who donates to her cause. Why the hatred? After all, Kenny and Bobby McCaughey, proud IVF parents of a litter of seven, despite having produced a previous sprog, got themselves a house, an endless supply of diapers, baby formula, junk food, and god-knows-what-all.

From all accounts the woman appears to be a good mother to her kids, but that's only with the help of a nanny and her mother. Also, she's about to find out that 14 kids is a lot more work than six. And, of course, all of us who are watching our earth dying from too many damned people are eyeing her with a level of cynicism that make me nervous. If everybody had 14 kids, we really would have to stage mass suicide campaigns because we would otherwise starve to death in short order.

What do you think?

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At 4:25 PM, Blogger One Fly said...

Well you sure as hell didn't piss me off PCat and you were probably too damn nice considering the idiocy of this situation.

Never is there a discussion on world population on the tubes that I know of or calling out Poop Benny or the Catholic church for their position. Love the cartoon!

It is next to impossible to have a rational discussion on topics such as this at a national level. That is how awareness is raised and opinions changed. But not here as it's more important to read about the bong and Phelps.

We are so screwed. Great post!

At 6:22 PM, Blogger Demeur said...

I guess Senor Marcos was smart enought to see how batshit crazy she was and vamoosed back to Mexico. What do you bet she looses it later and thins out the litter? She can always blame PP depression and get off.

At 10:12 PM, Blogger Friend of TPC said...

Hi TPC. I say sterilize the stupid bitch. Call me an optimist but I don't think those kids, even if they survive, have a future. See Paul Farrell's article, link above.

At 1:19 PM, Blogger nunya said...


Let me thank you for a fine fine, well researched and thought out post.

"Nadya is an only child, and apparently always wanted siblings"

Unh huh, my kid wanted siblings too. Tough titty said the kitty, as she tied her tubes.

Said child has now taken AP envrionmental science and is NOT planning on giving mom (me) any little bundles of granchildy love.

Mom and child are fine, thank you.

At 12:00 AM, Blogger ThePoliticalCat said...

The hapless wretch's mother spake, saying wretchita had wanted siblings from forever, and when Mom obviously hit the past-due-egg-date, became fixated on having her own babies instead. To which, Mom saith, "Why couldn't she just become a kindergarten teacher?" A telling wail, and surely indicative of Mammasan's thinly wearing patience as she changes diapers and wipes bottoms and bathes and feeds the existing six.

You raised a smart kid, but there ya go, Nunya. Smartapple din't fall far from Smartree.

At 10:58 AM, Blogger nunya said...

Thank you dear, I consider that the highest of compliments. My kid thinks I'm not too quick on the uptake, which is fine with me. I don't mind having a kid smarter than me :) It's called evolution, unlike what that silly sick twit in Bellflower is doing.

At 5:06 AM, OpenID contrarymary90 said...

Don't be mistaken if you think that Pro-lifers are not upset by this. Because we are. It is a very exhuberant abuse of the ability to create life. However, our solution to the problem would have nothing to do with killing the children. There is not much we could possibly do in this woman's case, but instead, we consider future cases. (I think the woman should have to put them up for adoption. She is obviously suffering psychologically from never having sibilings.)

We would suggest that there be put some sort of statue in place, disallowing the installment of 8 eggs in the uterus, especially when there will always be the possibility that all 8 will be fertilized. It is an unsafe practice. And it does create lots of problems. You are completely right to consider the costs these children will be. But from the moment they were conceived, I do not believe it is right for them to have been aborted because of a mistake on their mother's part. We should have laws with artificial fertilization that require the parent to have enough wealth to support the number of children they plan on having.

Now, being someone who successfully passed my AP Environmental Science class in high school, I am aware that overpopulation is not as much a problem in the US as it is in developing countries. The reason being, people believe that the more children they have, the more chance they have of one of them being a successful doctor who will be able to take care of them. What they don't consider is that while young, they don't have the resources to care for that many children, and most are lost to disease and starvation. But yet again, the answer isn't abortion, nor is it birth control really. Instead, these people require a special lesson in sociology. They need to understand that by having so many children, they only create more problems for themselves, in the world. If you can afford to have 10 children, than I think you have a right to have 10 children. But if you can't, then you really should do everything to avoid that.

The Catholic Church takes the sexual process very seriously/ deeply. If you've read JPII Theology of the Body, he goes into depth regarding our beliefs. And I don't mean any offense, but before you use any statement against the churhc, make sure you have read up completely on their views. Catholic or not, Theology of the Body is one of the most important religious publications on human sexuality of our time.

Devout Catholics follow his teachings, which really create no problem for society. Because if they did read it, they would know that we do use a form of birth control that is natural, and that is Natural Family Planning, and when properly used, it works. I know, because there are many strong Catholics in my life that practice it, my cousin being one, and at the moment, in 5 years of marraige, they only have 2 children, without ever having to use birth control. Now, if you don't follow the rules of Natural Family Planning, than yes, you will probably get pregnant. But when properly adhered to, it works, without the use of artificial barriers. So, do not blame the Catholic Church for its vendetta against artificial contraceptives. We are practicing our faith, and we do so diligently. Only people who are ignorant of our teachings are the ones who go about it completely wrong, and end up with 14 kids that they can't support.

At 7:04 AM, Blogger sgtg said...

oh boy. the poor shouldn't be allowed to have children, but it's fine for the rich. that's great contrarymary.

At 4:28 PM, Blogger nunya said...

contrarymary90 sez

"Now, being someone who successfully passed my AP Environmental Science class in high school, I am aware that overpopulation is not as much a problem in the US as it is in developing countries."

If you passed AP environmental science recently you would understand that it is the people in rich countries breeding that are causing problems for people in poor countries.

At 10:43 AM, Blogger ThePoliticalCat said...

contrarymary90 - "exhuberant"? Who's huber, and what's s/he got to do with this, eh?

As for your arguments, they are singularly lacking in any of the trappings of coherent thought, but, like certain terrorist nuns not to be here named, I have to take issue with your comment that laws be passed preserving the privilege of the wealthy to procreate while denying the same to those gifted with less lucre.

In response, I would like to point out that society sometimes benefits from the children of the poor just as it sometimes suffers at the hands of the children of the rich. Two examples here: Abraham Lincoln and George W. Bush. In the event, while I believe people should PLAN their procreation so that they CAN support any children they have, in reality life is not so tidy. Many a woman has found herself pregnant despite precautions. To take away such children forcibly, as you suggest, from what could very well turn out to be their best and truest friends and advocates is unconscionable. I think people who plan to have or find themselves having children who might not be able to afford the care and feeding of such should be able to name a number of co-parents who will help raise the child by investing either time or money, or both.

I wish you wouldn't brag about what you did in high school. Most of us have our sights set a little higher. However, I do see that that permits you to make asinine observations such as "I am aware that overpopulation is not as much a problem in the US as it is in developing countries." I suppose that you are aware, then, that the US (to take only one example) has a little less than five per cent of the total planetary population but uses more than 25 per cent of total planetary resources? You do understand, don't you, that we are currently waging proxy wars in Africa and the Middle East because we want the resources of those nations for our cellphones and Hummers?

Birth control and abortion are mandated by humanity's inability to control its own numbers. We now have a planetary footprint that exceeds the capacity of this small planet to support. Only by thinning the herd can we continue to enjoy our lives. Otherwise, we're looking at some Matrix-like future for our descendants.

I regret to inform you that I attended Catholic schools for most of my life and am well-versed indeed in both biblical knowledge as well as church affairs. It has left me with a violent distaste for a church which possesses immense wealth and treasure yet peddles lies to the faithful in poor countries, such as that condoms will not prevent STDs. The catholic church, like other religious institutions, covers up the sexual abuse of female parishioners and children by its priests. The pope, who is supposed to stand in the shoes of the fisherman wears red leather Prada slippers that cost many times what a poor fisherman could afford; and sanctifies vile creatures like Mother Teresa the Albanian nun who reserved for herself the best of medical care while "saving" abandoned babies only to let them sicken and die for lack of medical care. It is well-known in India that that wretched woman trafficked children for money. So please, spare me your pontifications, as it were, on the catholic church. I've seen enough of the poor parishioners forced to line up at the service entrance for the pitiful morsels of free food while the wealthy attend Easter Mass in their hats and gloves. A pox upon the church, and all churches, that do not do as their Master taught in feeding the hungry, healing the sick, and comforting the afflicted.


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