Comment of the Day: “A Single Mother’s Irresponsible Defense of Single Motherhood”


Coming in on a four month-old post, first time commenter Amanda Bonarrigo’s Comment of the Day describes how she was pushed toward single motherhood by a system that operates in willful ignorance of the personal and societal problems the condition creates. These are some of the best and most enlightening comments that Ethics Alarms receives, when an individual with a personal experience related to the topic of an essay here reveals a relevant personal experience in frank and passionate term.  Opinions are great, but this is the most helpful of all.

Here is Amanda’s Comment of the Day on the post, A Single Mother’s Irresponsible Defense of Single Motherhood:

I agree with this article.

I could write a book on what a fertility clinic did to me, taking advantage of my age and my desire to have a child. I won’t go into too many details as it is too long to go into, but I’ll just say that these fertility clinics who inseminate single women have no caring of what is right for the child, or even the mother. All they want is you to pay them, however you can do it.

I’m a low income single woman who wanted her fertility tested to know her future options. I wanted to do egg freezing in the possibility that I might meet the right man and get married. But they encouraged me to do IUI, they denied me financial aid for the egg freezing, told me alarming things like “if you don’t do something right now, you’ll never have a child”, pushed me to order sperm to be sent there, I didn’t have time to be choosy about it, they knew I had concerns about being a single mom and about my own physical health that might compromise a baby’s, and yet they pushed me so hard that I did an IUI this month, and am now regretting this and hoping and praying to God that it didn’t work. I had fears and reservations and they would dismiss them and encourage this procedure. They never inquired about how I intended to support this child or what that child’s home life would be like. They knew I was low income because of my health insurance, but as long as I could manage to get some money to pay for my visits there, they continued to treat me.

They sent me to a social worker because it’s a law that they have to. The woman actually said it was a good thing that I wanted to have a baby even though I’m currently unemployed and living with my father and sister. She easily gave me the go-ahead.

When you think about this, why wouldn’t she? If the clinic sends clients to her and she denies them, that that means the clinic won’t get money, which means they would drop her, which means she’d lose money. You see where this is all about making money and taking advantage of people?

A responsible clinic would have required proof of income. They also would have told a woman that they could clearly see had reservations about single motherhood, that they would not treat her at this time. They would have talked to me about the egg freezing option instead of just telling me I couldn’t afford it so don’t do it. If they don’t offer financial aid to the single women who hope in the future to have a husband and/or good employment/education, then I don’t know why they’d offer it to people who don’t really need it.

I want to warn people about these places because I feel what they have done to me is a travesty, and I actually feel like I was violated. My anxiety has been sky-high. I feel like they just ruined mine and my possible child’s life. I have to look into abortion and adoption now.

They are just manufacturing babies and playing God, with no regard for the child or the single woman.



17 thoughts on “Comment of the Day: “A Single Mother’s Irresponsible Defense of Single Motherhood”

  1. Wait a minute…where are all the usual voices on this blog about taking personal responsibility as opposed to blaming society for a choice one makes?

    I’m personally sympathetic to this woman, but I have to ask, what if she was complaining about a school system that made her think she was less than? What if she was complaining about a college that didn’t protect her from unwanted sexual advances at a fraternity party? What if she was a college student complaining about being harmed by hateful language that she encountered in a novel in English class?

    If the issue were other than single-parenting, I suspect half the commenters on this blog would be all over like white on rice for avoiding personal responsibility, blaming the system, and playing the victim card.

    I personally think these issues can be very complex, but I’m skeptical about whether Comment of the Day status would have been granted had the issue been a left-wing rather than a right-wing darling. She wasn’t drunk; no one pointed a syringe at her and pulled the trigger; no one forced her to walk into a fertility clinic despite being single and low-income.

    Where are all the usual voices decrying poor women choosing to have babies as lacking in moral character? Are they too the victims of irresponsible agencies, or do we hold them accountable for moral faiilings?

    • This post just went up. I’m seeing it right this minute for the first time. Wasn’t aware of this comment before now either. Were we required to get here quicker?

    • I’ll bite. She is responsible for the choice she made. The clinic is responsible for pushing hard for her to make that choice. Just as peer pressure doesn’t remove the responsibility for trying Meth for the first time, the pressure they put on her doesn’t absolve her. It’s still bad behavior from the clinic of from someone’s peers.

      Encouraging unethical choices is itself unethical.

  2. The comment almost reads as a parody, are we sure that it isn’t? If sincere, I don’t have a ton of sympathy. Fertility treatments are not a quick process. It requires multiple tests, workups, and treatments. Anywhere along the line, this commentator could have decided enough was enough. They gave her good, solid medical advice (that she decided was scare tactics), but she also wants them to make personal life decisions for her as well. It is up to her to decide if she can afford a baby, or if she has time for one, not the doctors. Do we really want doctors making these decisions for the patients, as she seems to be implicitly calling for? If this is real, I wish the best of luck to her, and her possible child.

    • deery,

      I too am a little skeptical. I join you in wishing her and her possible child well, but I am struck on re-reading by the fact that I don’t see a single typo or mis-spelling in her letter (I know I can’t claim the same). It’s not the best piece of writing I’ve ever seen, but it’s far from the worst.

      This is a literate, thoughtful woman, capable of self-analysis and self-expression. And while I can easily empathize with her in this extremely difficult situation, I can also marvel at the absence of her sense responsibility. As you point out, fertility treatments are a long, involved process; this is not conceiving a child “by mistake” in the heat of passion.

      It makes me wonder whether the clinic perceived her the same way I do – thoughtful, articulate, and apparently quite in control of her life decisions. Such people tend not to be questioned: I can even imagine a clinic seeing themselves doing a noble thing, helping a single mom with a support network of father and sister gain the financial wherewithal to achieve her life’s dream of having a child.

      What I DON’T see is a hint of Amanda saying, “OMG, I’m now consumed by guilt and fear that I may have made a horrible decision, wondering how I came to this place, why I didn’t read all the things out there about the difficulties of single parenthood. I now find myself facing a lifetime of responsibility for the consequences of my very deliberate actions, and wondering how it is that I could have taken such a decision – and then so shortly after to be racked with regret about NOT having made a good decision. I now find myself contemplating another huge ethical issue, whether to abort or not; a decision even larger than my decision to conceive a life; will I also make that decision and then come to regret it as well? Who am I that I came to find myself in such a place?”

      Now that is something I’d have HUGE empathy for.

  3. “where are all the usual voices on this blog about taking personal responsibility as opposed to blaming society for a choice one makes?”

    I think the criticism is unwarranted in this case. Her voice is quite clear (and I think, correct) in laying out the responsibilities of this business which, as a business — which is what it is: a baby-selling business — has ethical, if not legal duties. Even discounting the emotion involved (as natural a component of this transaction as it would be for any invasive medical procedure), the woman trusted the company as she had no reason not to, and she was betrayed.

    They were operating like the proverbial used-car salesmen, in fact, pushing her to have a procedure she didn’t need, coercing her away from the affordable purchase or delayed purchase she actually desired. And most certainly failing to allow her any options.

    As far as personal responsibility goes, I think her lack of knowledge going in combined with an unfounded trust that the clinic would help, not hinder, her, her recognition of how she (and perhaps her baby, too) was cheated, her decision to tell her story … all demonstrate a strong sense of responsbility to herself and to society.

    She didn’t blame society at all: she — rightly — blamed a profit-making commercial enterprise for messing with her body and her life. I hope she names them and follows through with a complaint. If in truth the clinic was operating under no constraints whatsoever to ask for or provide proper information, then they need to be put into place by law. Caveat Emptor, indeed!

    • So, if I catch your drift, you are saying we need more laws and regulations to protect us from the nefarious and unethical activities of a profit-seeking private enterprise?

    • I concur here. No where does she deny her responsibility, and in fact, she is accepting that she alone has to get her and her child out of this mess. She openly admits that she is glossing over numerous details, but this is to focus on her response, which addresses the topic of irresponsibly promoting single motherhood.

  4. This story reads like bullshit to me. But, assuming it’s not, does McDonald’s have a duty to not sell an obese person a double quarter pounder with cheese? Should Nordstrom’s question a 16 year-old girl’s decision to plunk down $500 on this season’s boots? Should a doctor question an (obviously) poor married couple about their decision to have a baby (or a second, or third, etc.) before giving pre-natal counseling?

    Most on this blog rail about personal responsibility endlessly — but conveniently the blinders go on when it comes to certain issues. (I’m not referring to you personally Jack.)

    Businesses are in the business of making money. The process described by the woman above requires many doctor visits, blood tests, hormone shots, etc. There were many times that she could have questioned her decision. She didn’t.

    • There’s a difference between letting your customer do as they choose, and aggressively pushing them to make a choice that’s good for your bottom line but bad for them. It should be legal, but I’d still call it unethical, as per my response above to Charles.

      • To Beth’s point, Phlinn, would you also call McDonald’s and Nordstrom’s unethical in the situations she posits?

    • “Should a doctor question an (obviously) poor married couple about their decision to have a baby (or a second, or third, etc.) before giving pre-natal counseling?”

      Certainly. If the doctor thinks it goes to the health of the child. The hamburger and boots can go hang.

  5. People are ultimately responsible for their own decisions. But cheerleaders, hucksters, and pushers of immoral behavior bear their own unique responsibility for their role as well. I don’t see how those two things exclude one another. If you stalk me for 20 minutes trying to sell me crack, and I refuse to buy, it doesn’t make you any less of a waste. And if I cave in and buy some crack, it doesn’t make me any less responsible.

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