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.