Nadya Suleman, a single parent of 14 now, certainly finds herself in a situation of need. With the use of free nanny services, donations, and a $500,000 house in the making, Suleman benefits from the generosity of others. In light of this, according to CNN.com, her ultimate goal has been to rely on welfare to care for her children. Who is to say when enough is enough? Or do we hold the responsibility of helping all of those in need? In this continued story, Wade Roberts, assistant professor of philosophy, opens up on the issue of charity.
From an ethical standpoint, how can we perceive this as right or wrong? For clarity, is it ethical to bring a large number of children into the world when there is no solid plan in place for caretaking?
How many children constitute a “large number?” And how are we defining a “solid plan?” That said, I think it’s pretty clear that Suleman, at least, was behaving irresponsibly. She already had six children, and was apparently having difficulty providing adequately for them.
Is it the responsibility of citizens to take care of multiple birth children when it is clear the family cannot do it on their own? Should that change if the mother’s actions are called into question?
I would hope, of course, that Suleman ultimately finds the resources to care for the children on her own. With that qualification in place, if push comes to shove we can’t let the children suffer malnourishment and adverse health effects through no fault of their own.
Do you feel as though there would be a difference in stigma had Nadya Suleman been an established, working mom with a husband? What if a husband were involved, yet due to the extreme expense, they would still need to resort to generosity – would the situation still be as appalling, or more of a misfortune?
This is an important point, which Suleman herself has made. In sifting through the tortured rationales she’s offered, I think she’s correct to highlight the double standard that the media/general public often exhibits towards single mothers. The ethically consistent point, I think, is to emphasize that any individual/family that decides to have fourteen children without giving enough thought to how they will provide for them is acting irresponsibly.
Christopher Bender ’10, Juniata Online Journalist