Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Parenting Debate, times eight (or fourteen)

OK, although I've got an opinion about the woman with the IVF octuplets, plus six other kids (as does everyone else, apparently) I'm keeping it to myself. I'm not only not going to call any government agencies to "report Mom to the authorities", I won't debate about what "Octo-Mom" * should or shouldn't have done. I will talk, or at least raise annoying questions, about why this set of events is prompting public debate, how that debate's being conducted, and what else should be being debated.

How is the public busy-bodying and involvement of celebrity lawyers and therapists, and the work of Mom's (now former) public relations firm/agent in brokering offers for exclusive interview rights, morally different from the offer to pay Mom money to star in a porn movie? Would Mom's being in the porn movie in some ways be less morally objectionable than, say, putting the kids in a "reality show", or a series of commercials, once they're out of the NICU? Is it, after all, one thing to sell yourself, and something different to essentially sell (or lease) your kids?

If I culled through all the cases on calendar at our support enforcement court departments, in any given week, I could probably turn up at least one guy who has fathered fourteen children, all still minors, although probably it would turn out to have been with four (or five or six) different women. I've watched support enforcement attorneys, and the judge, wrestle with the complex math of recursively recalculating support for some guys like that. Why isn't my not-so-hypothetical Mr. Fertile Deadbeat Defendant on TV?

For that matter, where's and who's Octo-daddy? The information I've seen to date is that Octo-daddy was not an anonymous donor, and Octo-Mom was not married to anyone else at the time. Octo-daddy may be on the hook for one heck of a large medical bill, and a really interesting amount of child support going forward maybe he should be looking for that TV deal?

We're at a point in our country's economic downturn where the availability of basic child health care is a serious concern for a growing number of parents. Should there be some restriction on access to "assisted reproductive techology" and fertility treatments, to those who meet some sort of means test, so that we're not spending health-care dollars to assure the need to spend more health-care dollars? If we do that, and the "means" go away after the fact (let's say someone was a banker, broker or a motor company exec) what happens to the kids? Should there be across-the-board limitation of the expenditure of financial medical resources to enable someone to have her or his seventh or eighth child, or as long as someone piles up the dollars on the counter, should we facilitate someone's, anyone's having as many children as they want?


* Wasn't that a Spiderman bad guy?

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