02/04/09 — Reason for rules: Not everyone weighs consequences of decisions

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Reason for rules: Not everyone weighs consequences of decisions

Want to know the reason some people are so concerned about all the exceptions and bending of the rules that seem to be occurring when freedom intersects with family planning?

All you have to do is look at the recent fertility case in southern California.

The octuplets -- that's right, eight children -- were born to an unmarried, single mother who already had six children and is living with her parents.

So now we have a mother -- with no spousal support and who does not even have a home of her own -- preparing to take home eight more children to add to her already overwhelming brood.

And this choice came about because of fertility treatments.

There is something wrong with this picture.

For years, when it comes to medical decisions involving children and how many a family should add to its rolls, there has been a firestorm every time someone has suggested that there are people who are less than responsible with their family planning decisions and should not be allowed to make them on their own.

Now, granted, most of those are people who are not caring for the children they already have and who are in the throes of personal crisis themselves -- drugs, alcohol, poverty, lack of ambition or desire to provide or care for the children they bring into the world.

But, really, is there not an ethics concern about a single mother who is allowed to use fertility treatments to have a child when she already has six at home? Why is it that people are allowed to make what are irresponsible decisions without consequence? A plastic surgeon can deny a procedure because it is inappropriate -- why can't a fertility doctor do the same?

Forgetting medical ethics for a moment -- don't you wonder a bit who is going to pay to care for these children? How is the mother going to work? And what about other concerns, like role models, stable family and the ability of a parent to really raise 14 children effectively, even with the help of her parents, at 33?

And, what if she wants more?

As draconian as it sounds, it is really time to start to make it tougher to become a parent -- or at least as tough as it is to get and keep a driver's license.

If you have proven you cannot provide for the children you have, or that you cannot make responsible decisions relating to their care, you should not be allowed to continue to add more, period.

The time has come to stand up, set standards and then apply them. That is the only way to stop the vicious cycle of poverty, neglect and selfishness.

Published in Editorials on February 4, 2009 10:57 AM