Sunday 1 February 2009

All of these things are just like the others.

In 1934 in the tiny village of Corbeil Ontario were born Marie, Émilie, Cecile, Yvonne, and Annette Dionne. The freakish experience of being the stars of a government-sanctioned tourist attraction have been chronicled by the sisters themselves and others who described the appalling circumstances of their childhood.

Cue another "R-word" economic environment and looky over there: Octuplets!!!

It was a midwinter miracle; eight babies born to a single mother and every one of them delivered alive. For a nation enduring its deepest economic crisis since the Great Depression, the tale was a welcome relief from bail-outs and bankruptcies. But this weekend, as the journalistic pack chases an altogether darker dimension to the story of Nadya Suleman, the feel-good factor has suddenly vanished.

The birth of Suleman's eight babies - six boys and two girls - was clearly an extraordinary event. Only one previous case of eight surviving babies had ever been recorded in the US. Yet as the eccentricity of Suleman's background and biography emerges, America is suddenly recoiling in shock. Far from being a heart-warming tale of wonder, the more that becomes known about the Suleman family, the more it seems something very disturbing has occurred. Public reaction has quickly turned from joy to shock and anger.

By last night, it was clear that Suleman is not an infertile woman who sought medical help to have children. The 33-year-old Californian already has six children. She is single and has no visible means of support for her current family ...

Her family has revealed that she may have serious mental-health problems and be addicted to having children. Her own mother, Angela Suleman, told one Associated Press reporter: "[She] is not evil, but she is obsessed with children. She loves children, she is very good with children, but obviously she overdid herself."

From here.

Right from the very first press release, this event drew praise from the usual Vulture Culture suspects: zygote zealots and abortion-criminalizers like Canada's Blob Blogging Wingnut heaped praise on Nadya Suleman for resisting the option of aborting some of the embryos in order to gestate the others for a longer term inside her womb. The BAY-BEEEZ!!! The BAY-BEEEZ!!! was their collective howl.

Strange how things go ... it was only April last year that Yale University art student Aliza Shvarts caused major controversy for her proposed senior art project .

Who knew that fetus fetishists were performance art critics?


fern hill said...

Excellent post, dBO! Hadn't occurred to me, but you are exactly right to draw this parallel.

Beijing York said...

Very apropos dBO.

Anonymous said...

It's the Duggars who remind me the most of the quints - I saw the movie back in 1994 and the images are haunting. The Duggars also use their children as a significant source of income and celebrity. The facade is a big happy family, but there are too many precedents to show that reality might be otherwise.

But my main thought about the Dionnes is to wonder about the multiple pregnancies that happened before that time in history and how they must have had tragic outcomes. I wonder if there are any historical sources on that subject...I have read that single-infant mortality was itself very high in French Canada before the 1920s.

deBeauxOs said...

Yes, the movie was quite thorough in providing details about the historical background and the quintuplet's exploitation by the bigoted Dr Dafoe (in the photo) and the premier of Ontario.

Antonia Z said...

Ah yes. We have progressed to the point where women have willingly become human incubators. This is especially disturbing when you consider that, as a result of the depression in the US, many women are renting their wombs to rich ladies.

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