Respecting Choice

Since my work is on contraception, not assisted reproductive technologies (ART), I’ve been hesitant to weigh in on the controversy surrounding Nadya Suleman.  Since this has come up in my course on disability history — in the context of eugenics (especially sterilization of women deemed “feeble-minded”) and “freak shows” (step right up and see “Octuplet Mom” folks), I thought I would just make some comments.   Two recent posts at GlobalComment and Reproductive Health Reality Check express most of my thoughts on the issue e.g. it revives the “welfare Mom” stereotype, and echoes historical discussions about who is fit to reproduce.

To these I would add the various strains of disability prejudice — e.g. that Suleman has “cheating” on her disability claims, that if she is disabled, why is she reproducing, she must be “crazy” to have so many children,  and so forth.    It seems that little has changed when it comes to the sexuality of women with disabilities.

1 thought on “Respecting Choice

  1. I’ve stayed 100 feet away from this too. It struck me today that Suleyman is being constructed as literally monstrous with the nickname “Octomom,” which is the only sobriquet my local newspaper uses in headlines about her and her children. I think it’s disturbing how she’s become somehow a more fascinating place to dump collective outrage than the looter banks and bankers. I guess it’s too hard to try to grasp the details of the financial system’s meltdown, but we can all bond on kicking around a woman who has had children outside of the officially approved bourgeois fashion.


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