My Turn: Who should have children?

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 5, 2012

By Dr. Ada Fisher
Watching the Jim Bob and Michele Duggar family on reality television continually expand their brood in what is portrayed as a loving relationship — as the 19th child struggles in its early life — one could ask the question: When is enough enough? Who decides this?
The case of Desmond Hatchett in Knoxville, Tenn. — who had 30 children by 11 different women and is asking the state to help support them — raises the same question: When is enough enough? Who decides this?
The cases of the forced sterilization of many North Carolinians felt to be retarded, in what can only be described as a eugenics experiment gone wrong, begs a different sense of the same question: Who is fit to have kids? Then, the “Octomom” case adds the dimension of what control the state or government should exert over pregnancies for which taxpayers will be the ultimate bearer of the cost.
In Nazi Germany, Hitler forcibly sterilized the retarded and others found undesirable by that nation, including some people of color. I believe people who have been involuntarily sterilized by the state for whatever reason should have the right to claim damages. I do not believe this extends to their families, since by the definition of sterilization, they are presumed to have no heirs. The North Carolina House approved providing $50,000 each, not as reparation but compensation for the state’s complicity in their pain and suffering upon the loss of their childbearing possibilities. I’d even up that to no more than $100,000 as one third of the cost they might normally have expended to raise that unborn child to age 18. (The N.C. Senate rejected the compensation proposal.)
The number of children born out of wedlock is soaring, and the attendant entitlement burdens for such should concern all citizens. More of the same will bring us a multitude of fatherless kids, while too many men are being allowed to escape their responsibility for the progeny they produce.
Would we ever dictate that a man such as Mr. Hatchett — who is under 40 and potentially can keep fathering kids he can’t support — be forcibly sterilized? Or should “Ocotomom,” who had kids she knew she couldn’t support, face the same consideration in seeking fertilization interventions while having already parented three children on public assistance? When is enough enough?
Equally concerning in a right to bear children discussion must be the extent to which fertility treatments are going to allow people to conceive. Now there is a case of a grandparent who saved their deceased child’s fertilized eggs in the hope of finding a way to have grandchildren. The unasked question and elephant in the room in some of the gay marriage discussion is the feeling that, without a right to marry, gay couples may be denied the ability to raise children.
Are children a right? If so, who then should have that right and under what conditions?
Dr. Ada M. Fisher lives in Salisbury and is the N.C. Republican National Committeewoman.
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