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Nadya Suleman on Panel 3

2009 February 19
by Michelle Bennett

I just wanted to write a little bit about the person I’m representing on Monday’s panel: Nadya Suleman, nicknamed “Octo-Mom.” She currently has 14 children, all conceived via IVF treatments, and recently gave birth to octuplets. She’s unemployed, is surviving on disability checks, food stamps, and student loans. She plans to go back to school to get her master’s degree in counselling in order to support her fourteen children. 

She is also rumored to be an Angelina Jolie admirer, and her plastic surgery (I’m speculating she’s had plastic surgery, I haven’t found any credible sources saying that she has) has given her a look reminiscent of Jolie. I’m particularly interested in Suleman’s rationalization for having so many kids: she says it’s been her dream to have a large family since her childhood, which was tempestuous and lonely. She sees having a large family as compensating for her sad childhood somehow. 

Her doctor is under investigation for his questionable judgment regarding Suleman’s sequence of pregnancies, as well as the pregnancies of other patients of his. A 49 year old patient of his is currently pregnant with quadruplets, but it was her wish only to have one child. A person fitting her fertility profile is recommended to be implanted with two embryo maximum, and he implanted this particular patient with 7. I seriously wonder if IVF doctors are paid per fetus, because I can’t really see another reason for him to do this.

I’m also interested in the gendered aspect of IVF treatments. I’ve heard a stereotype about women who can’t conceive, that they often feel less feminine or less of a woman because they can’t get pregnant. I’m wondering if Suleman’s gross overkill of maternity is somehow an indicator of a gender-related preoccupation of hers. And maybe her imitation of Angelina Jolie speaks to this somehow, especially considering the fact that Jolie is known as not only a sex symbol, but a maternal one, adopting kids from everywhere and having a few of her own. Anyway, I just wanted to provide some background information before the panel on Monday.

Also, not only has she used technology for her advantage in the respect that all of her children were conceived via IVF, but she has recently launched a website where people can make paypal donations to her family. Oh, the nerve!

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