Ethics Hero: Bobbi McCaughey, Mother Of The McCaughey Septuplets

_septuplets

Kenny, Kelsey, Natalie, Brandon, Alexis, Nathan and Joel McCaughey, the world’s first septuplets to survive infancy, graduated  from Carlisle High School in Iowa over the weekend. Alexis, who has cerebral palsy, was co-captain of the cheer squad and graduated at the top of her class. The miraculous siblings were born nine weeks premature in November 1997, weighing between two and four pounds. Their mother Bobbi rejected calls for the group to be culled by “selective abortion” while they could still be claimed to not possess a right to have a chance at life.

There is no question that Bobbi McCaughey and her children were the beneficiaries of moral luck. Her decision could have just as easily resulted in disaster; once she decided to risk the pregnancy, results were out of her hands. Nonetheless, her decision took courage, determination, self-sacrifice and love. The public and various groups also came through with much support, thank goodness…

septuplets2

including a 5,500-square-foot home, a van, a year’s worth of Kraft’s macaroni and cheese, two year’s worth of free diapers, and scholarships for all the kids at Hannibal-LaGrange University in Missouri, which some of the McCaughey grads are finally using 18 years later.

Many, perhaps most, abortion advocates would pronounce Bobbi a fool. I wonder: which of the children, shown here with their principal, didn’t deserve the chance to be in this picture?

McCaugheys grads

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Pointer: Fark
Source and Graphics: Daily Mirror

45 thoughts on “Ethics Hero: Bobbi McCaughey, Mother Of The McCaughey Septuplets

  1. I don’t see the ethics hero here Jack. It’s heartwarming sure, but not much in the way of ethical content. If she had the abortion, it was supported by legitimate (and ethical) medical reasoning. Even if she were going to have fewer kids, and therefore wouldn’t need that medical recommendation, aborting them by choice before a certain point is perfectly ethical. I think the only kind of abortion that the commentariat has given an unethical consensus to is non-medically necessary late term abortion. Having the kids was also an ethical, if personally risky, decision. I don’t see the great anti-ethical force she had to overcome in order to have her kids and be awarded the Ethics Hero title.

    • It doesn’t matter whether aborting one or more was perfectly ethical. I didn’t say it wouldn’t be. NOT aborting any of them, however, risked a great deal for “potential lives yet unborn.” Every one of those potential abortion victims owe theitr mother even more than we usually owe our mothers, because she had the power, the ability and the leave to wipe out any one of them before they took a breath, nobody would have blamed her, and yet she didn’t.

      You say that “having the kids was also an ethical, if personally risky, decision.” An ethical decision that goes against conventional wisdom at great personal risk to preserve a human life: how can you argue that isn’t Ethics Hero territory?

  2. It’s one of those selective bias stories. You read about the successful stories because it’s both unusual, and a feel-good story all at once. You don’t read the much more numerous stories where selective reduction was refused, and the woman subsequently lost all the children. My cousin was naturally pregnant with quadruplets. The doctors urged her to selective reduce to twins at least. She refused. She lost all of them at three months into her pregnancy. I know that now she wishes she had done as the doctors had wanted her to do. She feels that two is better than none whatsoever. But that is the uncertainty of it all.

    The human body is simply not designed to carry that many children. Doing so carries risks both to the fetuses, and to the woman (a much, much higher chance of death). If they all survive, the resulting children are much more likely to have physical and cognitive defects, as we have seen here with two of the septuplets who indeed have both cognitive and physical problems.

    And while it s nice that the community rallied around the McCaugheys, I think most people cannot count on the community’s charity to help raise their children, especially not the very comfortable level that the McCaughey’s enjoy. Even three kids at once is a devastating blow that most families could not recover from. The average price of daycare in the DC area is 1800 a month for one infant. Three puts you at $66000 for a year of daycare. Later on you have camp, and swim lessons, after school care, instruments, girl/boy scouts, college tuition, all at once. Just the thought of that makes the McCaughey’s decision out of reach for your average not newsworthy triplet/quadruplet.

    I don’t think McCaughey’s decision was ethical or unethical. She made the right decision for herself and her family, and it worked out well (more or less) for them. I don’t know if a decision that basically rests on luck can be considered ethical, anymore than if she had flipped a coin. You like the decision-making process that lead to her calling heads, and it turned out well, but it that was just chance working, nothing ethical about it.

    • 1. You know better than that. Almost every decision of any kind depends on moral luck.
      2. This is not a binary situation. The decision to carry all seven children and the decision not to can both be ethical.
      3. Any decision that is not unethical is still ethical. There are also many right-right situations. The mother here took the road less taken, and the road more risky.
      4. I mentioned the donations in passing. It doesn’t change the analysis at all. I will note that as with sextuplets, a heavy amount of support was certain, if the 7 survived.

  3. But if you take that reasoning then she was gambling with more than just her life, but the lives of everyone of her would-be-children. Having that many fetuses inside the same womb could easily create complications that would kill off the potential lives. And indeed, it’s killed many would be septuplets in the past. The possibilities from the mother/doctors perspective below:

    1. All the kids survive and the mother survives (never happened before)
    2. Some of the kids survive and the mother survives (happens)
    3. Some of the kids survive and the mother dies (happens)
    4. Most or all of the kids dies and the mother survived (happens)
    5. Most or all of the kids dies and the mother dies (happens)

    That’s a crap shoot with the odds heavily weighted against a happy ending. At best, she spurned the doctors ethical advice of sacrificing the few-not-yet-lives for the many not-yet-lives, essentially guaranteeing option 2, and risked far worse, instead opening herself up to options 3,4,5 in the wildly improbable bet that she would get 1. Her bet paid off but, that’s moral luck not ethics.

    • Again, moral luck and ethics are not mutually exclusive at all. Lincoln’s decision to fight the Confederacy was a terrible risk, and if he lost, he would be regarded as a villain and a failure. It was still an ethical choice. So was this, especially if she regarded taking any of the lives as killing a child. If Sophie’s choice was to let one child or the other be killed, or to risk a coin flip in which both would be spared or the two children, and her, would die unless she got three “heads” in a row, would you call choosing the latter an unethical choice, or an ethical one?

      • If Sophie’s choice was to let one child or the other be killed, or to risk a coin flip in which both would be spared or the two children, and her, would die unless she got three “heads” in a row, would you call choosing the latter an unethical choice, or an ethical one?

        When you put it that way, I see now that McCaughey’s choice was actually pretty unethical, when before I thought of it as being neutral. Remember that no septuplets had ever survived before. It would be more as if Sophie bet she would get 100 heads in a row, everyone would be spared, but if she got tails only once during those 100 flips, everyone would die. She’s basically consigning everyone to die by choosing the flip rather than sparing a child. The ethical choice is to save at least one child rather than essentially choosing to kill everyone. McCaughey just went through the 100 flips and actually caught heads. Lucky her, but not very ethical imo. It was a huge gamble, with an almost guaranteed disastrous outcome.

        • Each decision of this sort is more reasonable as time goes by, though. “Never before,” as the total ethics bar you suggest, would preclude every new medical procedure. Medicine advances. If she had been told, “kill one or two and it’s 85% the rest live; kill none and they all die, 99.9%—yes, it’s a rash and irresponsible decision. I doubt those were the odds quoted to her. I assume she was told that some of the babies would have a good chance of surviving, and she decided, “OK, then—let’s see how we do. I won’t play God and decide which must die. Maybe all will live.” The doctors said, “Well, that’s a long-shot, but we’ll do everything we can,” and she said, “Go for it.”

          Risky, gutsy, and ethiacl.

              • Actually… Yes. Juxtapose this with the post from last week about bartenders being forced to serve to pregnant women:

                In that case, we had stipulated that while some amount of alcohol is probably harmless, perhaps even beneficial to a pregnancy. My point of view was that there is obviously a point where alcohol consumption causes birth defects, and so it’s cripplingly stupid to enact the theory of Schroedinger’s FAS child, and a bartender should be able to conscientiously object and choose to opt out. Your point of view was that since it was the mother’s choice ultimately, that the woman was the “BEST” person to make that choice, doctors and health professionals be damned. Without looking, I believe you said something to the effect of (and I’m paraphrasing) “doctors are overcautious, so they can be ignored here.” And therefore, the bartender should be forced, on pain of law, to serve pregnant mothers.

                Fast forward a week. This mother had the audacity to go against the advice of her doctor in a way that snubbed your sacred cow that is abortion. There’s a chance that all of her children would be fine, but a better chance that if one or more of the pregnancies were ended (I’ll talk in your dialect for the purposes of this) that the remaining foetuseseses would be more viable. All of a sudden, even though she is the person who will ultimately make the decision, she is NOT the best person to make this decision.

                Can you explain to me, in very small words, like I’m moderately retarded, what the material difference is in those two situations? My very obvious inference being that you don’t actually care about what doctors think or what mothers choose, you care about your progressive talking points.

                • I don’t think, in either case, that the mother’s wishes should be overridden, either by a doctor or bartender. Let’s start from there. And keeping it very simple, so you can try to understand. I don’t think a bartender should force McCaughey to have the babies. I don’t think a bartender should force McCaughey to abort some or all of the babies. Nor should doctors, while we are at it.

                  Now, I might complicate things further for you, so I apologize for that. I don’t think a bartender or waiter should be in the business of quantifying medical risks for a woman and her fetus, especially when pretty much all the medical community, and common sense, agree that a drink or two, particularly at the point in pregnancy when a woman is visibly pregnant, is essentially harmless (or even beneficial as some studies have asserted).

                  The ethical conflict in that situation is between a woman being allowed to exercise her autonomy and move about in society as an independent adult, getting routine services like anyone else, assessing the risk to herself and her fetus, versus the right of strangers to exercise judgments for someone else and their child. To me, in the case of alcohol, ice cream, green salads, fish, ham sandwiches, exercise, the woman’s judgment should win. The risks are negligible, at best, and the effects, being refused public services, and being restricted by random members of society at their own whim, are paternalistic and unnecessarily restrictive.

                  McCaughey was pretty much guaranteeing a very bad outcome for all of her children by choosing the way she did. Her right. Red Pill has already outlined her decision tree upthread. But if Jack truly believes that no decision she made would have been an unethical decision, that makes his designation as an Ethics Hero even more puzzling. At best, neutral. At worst, she was making a bad bet with very poor odds.

                  I’m sorry that I didn’t use smaller words, but that is about the best I can do on the subject.

                  • Ugh…

                    “I don’t think, in either case, that the mother’s wishes should be overridden, either by a doctor or bartender. Let’s start from there. And keeping it very simple, so you can try to understand. I don’t think a bartender should force McCaughey to have the babies. I don’t think a bartender should force McCaughey to abort some or all of the babies. Nor should doctors, while we are at it.”

                    There’s a giant straw man I want to take care off right off the bat. No one ever suggested that a bartender has any medical expertise. I challenge you to find a single instance of me even inferring that, if you can’t find that, the only person talking about Bartender MDs is you, and you should hang your head. Conscientious objection does not require expertise, and it cannot prevent someone from doing anything, it can only be used by an individual, if the individual does not want to be involved.

                    There’s also a material difference in banning a behaviour, and allowing a second party to opt out that you seem to purposefully ignore. While it’s cripplingly stupid to drink while pregnant, and reserve the right to judge sternly anyone who chooses to, I do not believe I ever suggested a ban of it. I challenge you to find a single instance where I did.

                    Quite frankly, this goes back to the honesty test I flagged you for months ago. You lie, you make things up. You said “And another example of you giving a personal sideswipe when you could just be arguing the issues.” And my simple response could be why should I ever give you the benefit of an argument when you’re so full of shit? I’ll have discussions with Beth, Charles, Patrice or Chris in good faith… You… I don’t expect that from.

                    But I’m going to respond below, because I think that this is important, and a bystander might gain something from it.

                    • So basically you and I disagree on this question: Should a waiter be allowed to conscientiously object to serving a customer a item off the menu? For example, can a Muslim waiter refuse to serve customers pork products that are offered on the menu? A Baptist waiter any alcoholic drinks? A vegan refuse customers’ mea products requests?

                      My position, if you are a waiter, and you object to serving customers legally requested products off the menu, you should stop being a waiter, find a restaurant within your parameters, or never take up the occupation. Your job as a waiter is serve up products to customers who order them. Anything beyond that is beyond the parameters of your job.

                      You feel that it is ok for a waiter to impose their beliefs on other people who are requesting perfectly legal things. Everyone gets to guess whether they will be served or not everywhere they go.

                      I personally don’t want to be in a society that functions in such a way, but everyone’s mileage differs. I’m just glad that (thus far) my view is the prevailing one.

                    • “So basically you and I disagree on this question: Should a waiter be allowed to conscientiously object to serving a customer a item off the menu?”

                      Yes!

                      “For example, can a Muslim waiter refuse to serve customers pork products that are offered on the menu?”

                      Not only yes, but I’m actually fairly certain I’ll be able to find examples of this. One sec.

                      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2527820/Marks-Spencer-tells-Muslim-staff-CAN-refuse-serve-customers-buying-alcohol-pork.html

                      Too British….

                      http://pamelageller.com/2015/03/muslim-costco-employee-refuses-to-touch-pork-sues-after-getting-transferred-to-different-department.html/

                      Comes close…. let`s find a waiter. You can do it Google Machine!

                      http://therightscoop.com/muslim-woman-refuses-to-do-her-job-because-of-her-religious-beliefs-isnt-thrown-into-prison/

                      Airline server? Is that close enough?

                      And I’ll grant you there were examples of Muslims being forced to serve or were suspended for those refusing… Although they almost uniformly say the Muslim is suing for religious discrimination, and I’ll officially be watching for some of those outcomes. I think they generally have a case.

                      “A Baptist waiter any alcoholic drinks?”

                      Yup. Also fairly certain this is a thing. You just don’t hear about it because it’s so easy for the server to just tap another server and ask them to deliver the drinks for them. A bartender is perhaps a different situation, because they’re alone… A bartender refusing to serve anyone drinks constitutes a bona fide complete inability to perform a job.

                      “My position, if you are a waiter, and you object to serving customers legally requested products off the menu, you should stop being a waiter”

                      Here’s a hypothetical for you: Up here in the land of ice and snow, it is illegal for a child under the age of 18 to serve alcoholic drinks. In the case that a 17 year old server takes an order for those drinks, they’re required to have an adult deliver the booze. I bet you the average Canadian doesn’t even know the law is on the books, because they just don’t notice. But does this mean, in your opinion, because these under age servers cannot comply with the requirements of their jobs, that they should be fired until they turn 18?

                      “You feel that it is ok for a waiter to impose their beliefs on other people who are requesting perfectly legal things.”

                      I think we have a very different idea of what the word ‘impose’ means.

                      “Everyone gets to guess whether they will be served or not everywhere they go.”

                      I think that this won’t come up very often, and that the inconvenience of it happening is a small price to pay for the relative freedom to exercise freedom of belief, conscience, and association. You have to understand, this is the same freedom that allows me to opt out of a whole lot of faith based gobbledygook, and being very interested in maintaining that personal autonomy, I will recognize it and respect it in others.

                    • “Here’s a hypothetical for you: Up here in the land of ice and snow, it is illegal for a child under the age of 18 to serve alcoholic drinks. In the case that a 17 year old server takes an order for those drinks, they’re required to have an adult deliver the booze. I bet you the average Canadian doesn’t even know the law is on the books, because they just don’t notice. But does this mean, in your opinion, because these under age servers cannot comply with the requirements of their jobs, that they should be fired until they turn 18?”

                      Yes, we have the same laws in the U.S. — or at least we did in Michigan where I was a server. A waiter/waitress could not be hired at a restaurant until he/she turned 18. If they are under 18, they can be a busperson or a host/hostess. That’s it.

                    • Here’s a hypothetical for you: Up here in the land of ice and snow, it is illegal for a child under the age of 18 to serve alcoholic drinks. In the case that a 17 year old server takes an order for those drinks, they’re required to have an adult deliver the booze. I bet you the average Canadian doesn’t even know the law is on the books, because they just don’t notice. But does this mean, in your opinion, because these under age servers cannot comply with the requirements of their jobs, that they should be fired until they turn 18?

                      In most of the US, they would not be able to be hired under those laws. (Also note these are legal restrictions, not personal ones.) I also don’t have a problem if our hypothetical disapproving waiter/bartender passed off the order for someone else to deliver the requested item. I am imagining outright refusal, not “letting someone else fulfill it” scenario. I don’t think it matters who delivers the food or beverage, as long as it is delivered.

                  • “The ethical conflict in that situation is between a woman being allowed to exercise her autonomy and move about in society as an independent adult, getting routine services like anyone else, assessing the risk to herself and her fetus(eseseses), versus the right of strangers to exercise judgments for someone else and their child.(slipped, didn’tc’ha?) To me, in the case of alcohol, ice cream, green salads, fish, ham sandwiches, exercise, the woman’s judgment should win. The risks are negligible, at best, and the effects, being refused public services, and being restricted by random members of society at their own whim, are paternalistic and unnecessarily restrictive.”

                    In this paragraph, you’ve said that drinking while pregnant is an acceptable choice because “The risks are negligible, at best”. Which begs the question… What if they weren’t? What is having a single drink was a coin flip for FAS, does your opinion change? Is the mother still the best person to make this decision?

                    I mean…. This is the crux of it, isn’t it? This kind of reads like: “Women should be able to make all the choices that someone else has already deemed acceptable for them.” Because you’re next point was this:

                    McCaughey was pretty much guaranteeing a very bad outcome for all of her children by choosing the way she did. Her right. Red Pill has already outlined her decision tree upthread.

                    So the difference wasn’t medical advice, or expertise, the difference wasn’t the woman’s right to choose, the difference seems to be that YOU feel this scenario was a subjectively stupider choice. And in making that judgement, you drag kicking and screaming into the light yet another lie: You don’t care about a women’s right to choose, you use it as a shield when a woman has chosen something you agree with, and find convenient to use. You’ll begrudgingly admit it was her right, in a kind of petulant way, but you’ll judge her for it in a way you found unacceptable for other people to judge other women in other situations, and this treatment ALWAYS falls along party lines with you.

                    • There is a line of common sense of course. Should restaurants serve poison, if enough people demand it? No, they should not. I even went into more than a bit on the other thread. If the risk are that high, that is when the law normally steps in.

                      Drinking, ice cream, greens, ect. have been shown throughout human history as not being particularly harmful to the developing fetus. In large enough quantities, it can be harmful, but like everything else, the poison is in the dose. Doctors are mostly afraid of giving license to alcoholics to drink heavily through pregnancy, since Americans cannot have nuance. But in other countries where the guideline is for moderate drinking have not shown any increase of the FAS rate as compared to America. Denying a woman a glass of wine is one of those self-righteous acts with no practical effect. I don’t think it is particularly ethical thing to do compared to letting a woman expect and receive the same services as anyone else in the public.

                      It is weighing two ethical principles against each other. A waiter’s right to exercise a meaningless denial of service in order to feel self-righteous, or a woman’s right to expect service, without her expectations of service status changing based on pregnancy. It would truly never end if that was the case.

                    • You are… exhausting. I disagree almost completely, and I can count at least three claims in that one post I think you pulled straight out of your ass*. But this is…. again… irrelevant.

                      *(For the record: ‘Drinking (…) ha(s) been shown throughout human history as not being particularly harmful to the developing fetus.’, ‘Doctors are mostly afraid of giving license to alcoholics to drink heavily through pregnancy, since Americans cannot have nuance.’, and ‘But in other countries where the guideline is for moderate drinking** have not shown any increase of the FAS rate as compared to America’)

                      **I actually think that was a DOOZY. I doubt that there’s a country on Earth that explicitly condones any amount of alcohol consumption. From my own Canada:

                      http://sogc.org/guidelines/alcohol-use-and-pregnancy-consensus-clinical-guidelines/

                      Summary Statements
                      1. There is evidence that alcohol consumption in pregnancy can
                      cause fetal harm. (II-2) There is insufficient evidence regarding
                      fetal safety or harm at low levels of alcohol consumption in
                      pregnancy. (III)
                      2. There is insufficient evidence to define any threshold for low-level
                      drinking in pregnancy. (III)
                      3. Abstinence is the prudent choice for a woman who is or might
                      become pregnant. (III)
                      4. Intensive culture-, gender-, and family-appropriate interventions
                      need to be available and accessible for women with problematic
                      drinking and/or alcohol dependence. (II-2)

                    • UK: If you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, you should try to avoid alcohol completely in the first 3 months of pregnancy because there may be an increased risk of miscarriage.

                      If you choose to drink while you are pregnant, you should drink no more than 1 or 2 UK units of alcohol once or twice a week. There is uncertainty about how much alcohol is safe to drink in pregnancy, but at this low level there is no evidence of any harm to the unborn baby. You should not get drunk or binge drink (drinking more than 7.5 UK units of alcohol on a single occasion) while you are pregnant because this can harm your unborn baby.”

                      http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20130107105354/http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publichealth/Healthimprovement/Alcoholmisuse/DH_085385

          • Women are usually told to selectively reduce because allowing all of the fetuses to continue endangers the entire pregnancy, not that one or two fetuses would die. Otherwise there would be very little harm in just letting the pregnancy continue, and no one would selectively reduce.

            But as Lisa noted, multiple babies exponentially increase the chance of uterine rupture, in which both mom and all fetuses die, placenta detachment, which both mom and all fetuses die, and spontaneous abortion, in which many to all of the fetuses die.

            It was not brave or gutsy because it was unnecessary. It was risky though, I will grant you that. But the word I would use is “reckless.” The odds, even 18 years later, with all the advances in science and medicine, are still against having that sort of result.

            McCaughey played god by getting the fertility treatment, and then refusing to choose which fetuses to reduce. Lack of a decision is still a decision. I hate when people suddenly try to blame “fate” or “god” when convenient. She basically chose to have all the babies and probably herself die. It’s only the purest luck that this did not happen. Not ethical.

            • “It was not brave or gutsy because it was unnecessary.”

              You get a big “huh?” for this. It was necessary if the objective was to give all the unborn babies an equal chance to live. If you regard the elimination of embryos in the womb that equivalent of a shave, sure, then it’s “unnecessary.” i don’t see how you can trivialize the human difference between 7 grads in the photo and just 6 or 5 by saying “It doesn’t matter.” It does matter. It certainly mattered to the ones who wouldn’t be there now.

        • That is a very utilitarian line of reasoning, and I’m wary of starting with utilitarianism because that’s the road to dystopia.

          • It is pretty utilitarian, agreed. Though honestly, in this case, it’s hard to analyze it under another framework. It all ultimately boils down to more babies= good; less babies = bad. Or at least most us seem to be explicitly or implicitly coming from that direction.

  4. Women aren’t designed to have litters of children, our uterus is completely structurally different than that of animals which have litters. If a caesarian section or premature labor did not happen and the woman attempted to carry all to term and healthy birth weight, her uterus would rupture. It simply can’t successfully hold that many fetuses. Most women with mega-multiple pregnancies are on bed rest and anti-contraction drugs for months before giving birth. Even in animals that do have litters, a litter of seven is large and can be difficult for the mother to birth and nurse. We have two nipples. We cannot feed that many infants. Children born in litters are always premature and require intensive and expensive medical support in order to survive. Many have lasting physical or cognitive problems. That doesn’t sound like an ethical decision to me.

    An average couple cannot care for so many babies at once without pressing others to help them and support them physically and financially for the infancy and likely the entire childhood of the kids. It’s not like we’re an endangered species and we need to have 5, 6, 7, or more children in order to replenish our numbers. I think it is reckless and irresponsible to glorify the people who choose to have these litters of babies. They know the publicity will bring them the free resources. If they had to pay the costs of the medical care from pregnancy to adulthood – would, or could they have made the same decision? How is it fair to insurance companies or state funded medical that they should have to pay the enormous costs associated with sustaining the pregnancy, giving birth and neonatal intensive care that these children inevitably require? Feeding, clothing, housing and generally raising the children on their own, like most parents do, would be impossible for all but the uber rich. Why is it ethical to have children that you can’t support – relying on the kindness and generosity of others, or government assistance because you elect to have a litter?

    It is situations like this that make me think that fertility treatments that have a high risk of multiples need to agree to limits of three or decline the treatment for those that won’t agree. In the cases where fertilized eggs are implanted into the mother – a situation where many are often placed in hopes of one or two taking, they might need to limit the number they will implant to three in women who would not selectively abort. Women cannot naturally sustain litters. There is no reason the medical community is obligated to provide them a procedure that will result in premature birth and great risk of permanent disability.

    Jack – is she still an ethics hero in your book if she had 15 fertilized eggs, but elected (or allowed the doctors) to only implant seven? If her decision not to selectively abort had resulted in the loss of the entire pregnancy, would that be her fault for allowing that many to be implanted or not reducing to a sustainable number?

    Do insurance companies have a right to deny benefits to those who undertake naturally unsustainable pregnancies? The state? It seems a moral conundrum.

    • “It simply can’t successfully hold that many fetuses.”

      I’ve decided that the one of the indicators that someone is being a partisan hack on this issue is the attempt to type the plural of foetus. foetuseseseseses. It’s so awkward. But we can’t call it anything else. Lord no, calling them anything but the very clinical “foetus” might convey some aspect of humanity.

      “That doesn’t sound like an ethical decision to me.”

      So…. Which one should have died? I mean, it doesn’t sound like an ethical decision to you because you’re seeing this through your bias. Take a step back and see it from mine: They’re all people. And those small people have the world of possibility in front of them. What was the right number to kill? One? Two? Five? No. The right answer is to try to take steps to save as many as possible, with the understanding that tragedies happen.

      More, you use a lot of language in there that reads perilously close to you inferring that a woman can make the wrong decision about her pregnancy. (Tut tut.) Do you really want to go down that path? Do you really? The filthy breeders are dropping their litters and how dare they, there isn’t enough room for the rest of us anyway? So… We should shame them for making a stupid decision? Should we prevent them from making that decision, financially burden them over it? Be very, very careful how you tread here.

      • The problem I have is people undertaking an ELECTIVE medical procedure with a high likelihood of producing dangerously multiple pregnancies. IF you elect to undergo that ELECTIVE procedure, then you should be prepared to either selectively abort any more than three, or not have more than three implanted to begin with.

        If you are a “let god decide” type as to whether the children survive the pregnancy, birth and neonatal period, then they should have none, because that’s what god gave them naturally, they are looking to man to circumvent god’s plan. These people are unable to conceive naturally. You can’t have one side of the coin “god’s will” but the other side not and be consistent. It would be different if they naturally conceived 7, but that doesn’t happen.

        Knowing these risks and the mega-extreme high cost that these baby litters entail, it is irresponsible and yes, unethical of them to undergo the procedure. It is not required to have children to have a happy life, there are other ways to be fulfilled with children, adoption, foster parenting, mentoring, or a career as a caretaker, doctor or teacher of children.

        And, yes, I think it is unethical and irresponsible for anyone to choose have (and keep) a child they can’t support. I do believe in personal responsibility. That said it does not excuse the rest of us to step in for the sake of humanity when people are personally irresponsible.

        • I can only speak about the doctors with whom I used when battling infertility. They would only implant a small number of eggs. Ethical doctors refuse to implant seven. I never went down this route, but it was explained to me in detail.

            • Then she should have skipped that cycle. Seriously, these things are closely monitored. I was told every month how many eggs had developed and, if there are too many, an ethical doctor recommends not attempting fertilization that cycle or discusses whether the couple is open to reducing eggs post fertilization.

        • “ELECTIVE”

          You mean… like an abortion? Because an abortion always ends a life. We can argue about whether the ‘thing’ is a human… Although if it’s not, I’d love for you to wax erudite about what it is… But it was inarguably a distinct life. And so if we should avoid things that could cause harm or be risky to these ‘things’ we’re talking about, well, then it only makes sense to be against abortions, right?

          “If you are a “let god decide” type as to whether the children survive”

          What if you are an atheist, but are biased for the children, because you used to be one, and are opposed to killing your children? I hate these God cop outs. They’re lazy. I think the average non-believing individual can understand why it’s wrong to kill born children, and I think using that from a starting point, those same people should understand that there isn’t much difference between the born child and the two-hours-from-being-born child. And from there we can go back until the subject becomes fuzzy enough to have a conversation, all the while completely ignoring any mention of someone’s sky daddy.

          “Knowing these risks and the mega-extreme high cost that these baby litters entail, it is irresponsible and yes, unethical of them to undergo the procedure.” and “And, yes, I think it is unethical and irresponsible for anyone to choose have (and keep) a child they can’t support.”

          GET YOUR IDEOLOGY OUT OF HER UTERUS, MISOGYNIST SCUM. (See? It’s not very nice.) Seriously though, how do you reconcile a pro choice ideology that puts a woman’s right to choose to kill her child on a pedestal, with this judgement for choosing not to kill her kids? And not just a judgement, but an ugly one, using bestial terms to describe her? (“Litter” for instance.) I know it’s a worn out trope, but could you imagine if a Republican lawmaker referred to a woman having kids as “throwing her litter”?

    • I have a close friend who needed three months of neo-natal care for her premature baby. The bill was over $1 M. Now, multiple that by 7. It is irresponsible for anyone to have that many children at one time (or even spread out truthfully), and but for charity, their lives would have been awful. Now, looking at these children, would I choose for four of them to disappear? Nope. But at the time that they were the size of a pea, and I was told that — absent a miracle — none of them would make it to birth and I might die as well? Of course I would do it. I would cry for the lives that would have been (just as I cried when I was told that I lost a twin during my second pregnancy — they couldn’t be absolutely sure given that I was in first trimester), but I still would have done it.

      • Excellent perspective. The fact is that very often, lives cost money, sometimes a lot of money. Now contrast this with the “if we only save one child” rhetoric from the current leader of the pro-abortion party, and tell me how they square.

        Never mind: they don’t. And I agree: it’s irresponsible to make me pay (government = me) for your preemie. So is the ethical course to insist, through laws, that your friends baby either has to die, or she has to dedicate her life, and the baby’s too, to paying for the extraordinary care?

        • Well, insurance covers this type of care, but insurance does not cover raising the child, day care, diapers, formula, a bus to hold them all, a house with more than two bedrooms, etc. As a rule, I think that people only should have children if they can take care of them and I think many of this world’s ills are caused because of too many people and, specifically, too many people living in poverty.

          This all brings me back to one of my favorite talking points — most governments should be providing incentives to their citizens NOT to have children until the parents are 30 or older. But there should be no law mandating selective abortion, but we also should not be applauding this woman’s decision to irresponsibly pro-create seven or more fetuses at one time and to risk her life as well as the viability of all of the fetuses. An ethics hero she is not. This type of behavior — and the publicity that it garnered — is what inspired all the Octomoms out there.

  5. Jack,
    “I wonder: which of the children, shown here with their principal, didn’t deserve the chance to be in this picture?”

    I spot two right off, and that’s without even knowing their personalities.

    • Disturbing comment, if not tongue in cheek. You did read the part about the girl with CB graduating first in their class, right? That sure sounds like a eugenics plug. Those with disabilities don’t deserve to live? Tell me that was a joke.

      Of course, Bon Jovi could probably make a few disappear…

  6. Jack,
    I specifically said TWO so that you wouldn’t jump to that cerebral palsy conclusion, but you did nonetheless. I was talking about the And I’m the disturbed one?

    Of course it was tongue in cheek — I would hope you know me a LITTLE better than that. I realize I have a tendency to play the contrarian and randomly fly off the handle, but I’ve never gone so far as to advocate criminal behavior. I no more advocate murder than I do abortion or genocide. I was taking the “marry/boff/kill” approach to the question and assuming some of them “had” to go, which removes any moral considerations when picking. For the record, it was speaking about the one on the far left (mouth breather) and the third one in from the right (beanpole). [Also tongue and cheek, I know nothing about them and they may both have far more of a right to life than I do.]

    Also, and I realize this is another of those issues we’ll never see eye-to-eye on, I still fail to see how there’s anything unethical about the Bon Jovi ad. Those weren’t really parents and that wasn’t really their child and you can’t really turn back time (even with all the Cher records in the world). I’m not even going to rely on the “it was clearly a joke” reasoning (although it was) because it was pure fiction. No children were harmed, demeaned, or exploited in the making of the advertisement Was it unethical for Michael Corleone to shoot Officer McClusky? Was it unethical for Marty to travel through time and turning Biff into a loser (or preventing Clara’s death in three — who knows how many went unborn because of those changes)? Was it wrong for Ben to court Elaine knowing he’s carried on an affair with her mother?

    Even if you wanted to argue the advertisement encouraged unethical behavior, that doesn’t hold water because the technology doesn’t exist. If the same situation occurred in the context of a sci-fi movie and Bon Jovi were a mad scientist from the future, would that be okay? If they ended it with a disclaimer “this was merely a joke, we LOVE our children” would it have been okay then? What if they’d made him disappear but then thought better of it? I guess I just don’t understand where the bright line is drawn.

      • Jack,
        Well, only the one has a visible walking apparatus in the photo, you only mentioned her in connection with the disease, and I don’t usually follow “wow, they’re all grown up” happy-feeley news, so I wouldn’t have any way of knowing otherwise. If I happened to identify one of the other children who had it, please know my criterion had everything to do with appearance and not physical impairment. Although, one could potentially consider ugliness a disability too. But, I digress …

        As to my second point, I am genuinely curious where the line is drawn, if you’re cool-headed enough to answer.

    • There is no bright line, but fiction is not in the same category as commercials and ads. Ads are designed to associate good, desirable feelings with their products. They express social values, because they depend on values. No company has a serial killer or a rapist as a spokesperson, real of fictional. If a company does use a serial killer to plug its services, it is asserting that serial killers are worthy of trust. To the extent the commercial is successful, that assertion is corrupting.

      In this ad, the idea that a child can be wiped out of existence with full approval of parents with no emotional toll at all is used as a positive. That position, if absorbed by the culture, would be cultural poison. It fails the Kantian test: if everybody did this, we would live in a society where children were killed for convenience.

      Fiction makes no such cultural suggestions. It’s just Michael Corleone, not us (though in fact the arc of the story shows that this moment was the beginning of his corruption, so the message is ethical). The characters in the Bon Jovi ad, however, are “us”—the customers for the service. The ad states that “we” feel the way the parents do, and share their values—OR SHOULD. “Hey! The brat Timmy is gone, never existed, we save all that money and can turn his room into a passion pit!”

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