Skepticism

Gift from God? I’d rather have the cash.

This woman is refusing to abort her conjoined twins because of her strict religious (Catholic) beliefs. The twins have two heads and one body (yeah, quite a thought) and have a one in five chance of survival according to some sources, and none at all according to others. She’s spent seven years trying to conceive, and I fully understand why she wants to continue with the pregnancy despite the risks, although I personally wouldn’t make the same choice. If she doesn’t want to abort, that’s entirely her right. She shouldn’t be pressured to abort, she should have and does have the right to choose regardless of the quality of life, if they live to birth, of the child (children?).

Her case is being used by anti-abortion campaigners as some sort of blessed example of the sanctity of life and ammo against abortion, and also by skeptics to make points about religious belief and abortion. According to pro-lifers LIFE,  she’s an example to us all, although given she’s not aborting because she believes her horribly-malformed babies are “a gift from God” I’m not sure about the example part. It’s impossible to rationalise the impossible. Wait seven years to get pregnant and find out your twins are probably going to suffer then die. I can’t imagine the horror of that. But I also can’t imagine why I’d happily credit God with a blessing.  What the hell sort of gift from God is this?  What sort of God gives gifts like that? Does she really believe it? Or is it a way of trying to cling to hope in the face of horror? I genuinely don’t know, but I do know that I’m glad I don’t have to factor in ‘burning in hell’ when making decisions. Is the quality of life, the amount of suffering the babies will experience, less important than the opportunity to live? This is a question that should surely be weighed up on human, ethical and family grounds, not answered because of a mandate by organised religion. Where do you draw the line? Man is made in God’s image, except those with two heads? 

Truthfully, I’m struggling with this one. I fully support the parents’ right to give their babies a chance if that’s what they want, but it upsets me to think that decision is being made because of religious bigotry. In the video interview, the mother says she’s happy and proud to have been ‘chosen by God’ to carry these twins. That makes me sad. If it’s a choice between that God or no God, I’ll take no God and let him hand out his ‘gifts’ to those who appreciate them.

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  1. I have a co-worker who is so vehemently pro-life that she gave birth to a child that she knew not only was going to die, but also might kill/hurt her. She was ok, but her son died about 2 hours after birth.

    I try to respect her choice, as she is an incredibly open-minded and gentle woman, but the thought of leaving a 2 year old motherless is pretty horrible to me. In her mind, it was God’s will.

    I don’t understand this, as she used fertility drugs too. Like Jon and Kate Plus Eight. It wasn’t God’s will for you to get pregnant with six embryos and deliver them extremely early with risk of death/disability. It seems like picking and choosing to me.

    But then, that seems to be nothing new for the religious.

  2. Though the situation is dire, what I like to see is how she will feel and what she will actually do once the child is born. Also, who exactlyis going to pay for this malformed blob of flesh to stay alive? Oh wait I guess God(s) will be sending the check in the mail. I see her now so dogmatic but once reality sets in on carring for it things change. Glad I don’t have to deal with things like this.

  3. @writerdd:

    hmm that line kind of stuck out to me also. But i beleive tkingdoll is coming from the angle that the desicion, in this case is being distorted by the haterd aimed at women who do decide to choose abortion, by religion.

    The ethical questions this brings up, aren’t easy for me to answer. thanks for the post.

  4. They do believe it. They have to believe it’s some sort of gift because if they don’t, the cognitive dissonance will make them ask the same questions you did. Like, “What kind of God would give a “gift” like this?” Their faith has no answers for that, other than to keep believing in the ‘goodness’ of a diety that would do this to an innocent woman desperate to conceive and to her offspring.

    They will claim some sort of lesson(s) or blessing(s) from going through this ordeal when it is all over. No mention of mercy for the fetus/baby involved that will go through all the pain with no way to understand or cope , of course.

    It is, of course, her choice to continue or not. I wish we could ask the fetus/baby what it thinks, if it were capable of answering…

  5. I fully stand behind her choice, but for me the ethical issue is quite simple. She’s inflicting a life which can consist of nothing but pain and misery on two(?) children in the name of religion. She has every right to make that choice, but in my mind it makes her a bad person. Any decent human being (IMHO) would spare their child that pain before it is developed enough to feel it.

    To me this is equivalent to torture if it goes to term.

  6. There was a similar case in Ireland recently where a much younger person (13 maybe?) had a fetus that was in even worse condition, an anencephalic fetus. That didn’t have a 1 in 5 chance it had a zero chance. The Irish government was all set to prevent her from traveling to England where she could have an abortion so she wouldn’t have to carry it to term, give birth and have it die in a couple of days. She had to go to court.

  7. I think this is such an unusual case, the sort of thing that occurs one in a million times, that it’d almost impossible to decide what the best course of action should be in every case.

    Regardless of her personal beliefs, anyone who’s been through the emotional roller-coaster that is IFV for seven years (so no doubt they’ll have used up her NHS entitlement and spent several £000 of their own money) is going to find it very hard to terminate a pregnancy.

    The emotions of everyone involved are going to be all over the place right now, there’s a lot of things swirling around in the mix, hopes, expectations, what her family think and expect, what she thinks they expect, hubby, what she/he/they think their social support network (ie their church) expect.

    I wouldn’t want to be her/their situation, and certainly wouldn’t presume to tell her (or any women) what to do. If I were in that position, I would terminate to save the suffering of the twins. Although some do seem to go on to live happy lives, and who’s to judge on “their” happiness?

    I suspect that, after seven years of trying, this is her last throw of the dice and, religious reasons aside it’s a case of conjoined twins are better than no children at all. It is very hard indeed for a couple to give up on the dream of “becoming a family”, even when you’re told you’re chances are millions to one you still think “We could be the one” despite the rational part of your mind telling you otherwise.

  8. @tkingdoll:

    @writerdd: Why not?

    I think it’s religious dogma but I think bigotry has the meaning of prejudice. I don’t see how prejudice has anything to do with this situation.

    I do think it’s tragic. I think even if the babies lived, it would be a terrible thing to put them through life as a 2-headed monster. Because, let’s be honest, that would freak people out.

  9. First off, I want to thank you for treating this one with as much respect as you did, tkingdoll. Recognizing this woman’s rights, and how difficult this is for her, and why her perspective puts her in the difficult place she’s in is important. Too many people on both sides of this issue like to demonize and distort and overreact, and our side more than any can’t risk that.

    As for the actual issue, this is unbelievably sad on so many levels. And I can’t help but wonder if anywhere in this woman’s head she’s questioning this and fighting as hard as she can BECAUSE she’s questioning it. Seven years of work, and THIS is what she gets? I think part of her may be trying to prove what she’s supposed to believe because she can’t accept the truth that’s nagging at her.

    Either way, people are once again suffering due to dogma. She’s suffering from the complications (and I can’t imagine there aren’t physical side-effects for her in this), she’s suffering from the moral dilemma, she’s suffering from the people on our side of the battle who aren’t as respectful of her rights, she’s suffering from the people on her side badgering her to ensure she does what she’s already forced to do by her beliefs, and this/these child(ren) will likely suffer for however long they live. And when the death occurs, she and her fellow believers will pray and praise God’s decision and whatever lesson it is they believe this was meant to teach them. They won’t see the irony in this, they won’t learn the real lesson; they’ll just make up whatever lesson they can come up with to reaffirm their beliefs and the suffering will have been for nothing.

    Perhaps that’s the saddest difference of all between us and them. By nature we take what we see and experience and learn from it, because we’re willing to accept when our pre-conceived notions are wrong. We learn from everything around us, and gain from it constantly. They just take every opportunity to learn and turn it into an excuse to cling to their prior beliefs. What a shame.

  10. @QuestionAuthority has it right.

    All the rationalization that the religious people do about the bad things in life, whether it’s conjoined twins, babies drowning in the bathtub, parents dying, leaving orphans behind, whatever, it all gets rationalized as “part of God’s plan” or “higher purpose” or “The Lord works in mysterious ways” because there’s no other alternative.

    You know what it reminds me of?

    Star Trek fans

    (quick aside – I’m also a pretty big Star Trek fan, and guilty of the behavior I’m about to describe)

    I mean think about it. How different are these two statements…?

    “Why did Khan recognize Chekov in Star Trek II when Space Seed is a first season episode, but Chekov wasn’t introduced until season 2? It’s simple. Just because we didn’t see Chekov, that doesn’t mean he wasn’t on the ship. He was on the below decks, and Khan came across him then.”

    “Why did God create conjoined twins with a marginal chance of survival inside a woman who had been trying desperately for seven years to conceive? It’s simple. Just because we can’t understand the reasons, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a good reason. God works in mysterious ways, we lowly humans can’t hope to understand it.”

    Because one thing neither Christians nor Trekkies like is something that violates canon!

  11. @Kimbo Jones: I didn’t mean it to sound like that. The Emotional Investment is huge, besides the financial burden of going through cycles of IVF. It’s a mistake to think that the costs (and we’re talking about sometimes >£10,000) aren’t a factor, there is an emotional effect to spending large amounts of money you are both desperately hoping for, sacrifices are (willingly) made and there is a huge burden of expectation.

    The whole process puts even the strongest relationship through the ringer, fear, guilt, recrimination and so on are par for the course.

    Couples don’t go through it for fun. Starting out you know your chances are slim to begin with, and if you weren’t so desperate to have a family that you’ve become irrational enough to keep trying against all reasonable hope then any weighing up rationally of the potential suffering of the baby is almost impossible.

    It’s very difficult for a couple to accept they will remain childless. I suspect in this case the mother is incapable (driven half-mad through her “need” to have children) of realizing what kind of life her offspring will have

  12. I remember someone (possibly the Dilleys) refusing to do a selective reduction on their sextuplet pregnancy because it was “God’s will” that they have six kids. Odd how, when they couldn’t conceive, they decided to defy “God’s will” by pumping her full of Pergonal. Must be nice to be able to tell the difference between “God’s will” and stuff just happening. It all looks the same to me.

  13. She is only 25. If she has been trying to get pregnant for 7 years, that means she started when she was 18. I doubt she has been going through fertility treatments all that time. I really doubt that she has been doing IVF for 7 years.

  14. I agree the mother has and should have the choice, absolutely no one else.

    What I am wondering is why everyone is assuming these babies are “blobs of flesh”, or worse “monsters”?? Why can’t they just be babies? Sure, they are different from you and me, but they are (potentially, if they live to be born) people, not monsters. Obviously writerdd has never seen the case of Abigail and Brittany Hensel, two bright, healthy, happy teenagers who happen to share a body. Sure, the odds are against this pregnancy resulting in healthy conjoined twins like Abigail and Brittany are slim, but they aren’t zero.

  15. I see this time and time again and sadly all of the arguments become real weak when looked at more closely.

    Let’s first look at:

    “Life is a gift from god.” Is this a coherent thought?

    If A is to make a gift to B, then A and B must both exist.

    The gift in this case is life.

    1. If the person already exists then he/she already has what the gift is supposed to give us how can life be a gift if the person already has it?

    2. If the person does not yet exist, in which case there is no one to receive the alleged gift.

    Either case the idea that life is a gift makes no sense.

    Second, to a theist a gift of life is giving gratitude to a god. Is gratitude the right emotion?

    According to wikipedia:
    Gratitude, appreciation, or thankfulness is a positive emotion or attitude in acknowledgment of a benefit that one has received or will receive.

    Individuals are more likely to experience gratitude when they receive a favor that is perceived to be (1) valued by the recipient, (2) costly to the benefactor, (3) given by the benefactor with benevolent intentions, and (4) given gratuitously

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gratitude

    But…

    (1) valued by the recipient- suggests that life is a value-gift to the receipient. If living day by day, moment by moment, year by year is valuable then fine maybe giving gratitude to a god makes sense but to those who are suffering and in pain God could have given something more valuable.

    I would think that resentment is a better emotion since an all-powerful deity could have given something more valuable but decided not to.

    (2) costly to the benefactor- suggests that a gift would be costly to the benefactor. First, there is no cost to an all-powerful deity for giving life. Second, how much gratitude are we to give someone who brought us without any cost to him or herself?

    The benefits could be a lot greater, especially to someone who is or could end up suffering, without any cost to the benefactor.

    (3) and (4) are still more unclear.

    I think ultimately the question of how an all-powerful god can allow evil to exist in the world is raised.

    This all assumes that a deity exists in the first place.

    “If God has benefited us, we owe him a debt of gratitude.” This idea presupposes that a deity exists in the first place, but I see no reason to believe based on this assertion that a God could exist.

  16. Given that many Christians see their arrangement with God as some kind of legal contact wouldn’t it make sense that God should be accountable under the Trade Practices Act or something? Forcing God to replace faulty bodies? And if there are none available can you get the equivalent value of puppies and/or kittens?

  17. It’s not that I don’t respect her rights I just don’t think she’s making the right decision. She’s endangering her own life for a life that is easily arguably… crappy. Why not settle for adopting, or attempt to get pregnant again. In my mind waiting a couple years for a kid is better than getting one with two heads tomorrow(granted you want a kide)

  18. Before trying to have children my husband and I talked through the “what ifs”. Made decisions down to how many trials of ivf we would try if necessary and when to use medical intervention in the case of a premature birth. Thankfully all of talking came to little as we have two healthy girls who I conceived very easily.

    I think for most people who rely on “God’s Will” they never once stop to think of consequences. They rationalize what they want and put God in the gaps. This woman desperately wanted children and while it wasn’t “God’s Will” for her to conceive naturally she used the gap of “but God gave humans medical advancements.” This woman’s children now most likely face a short and painful life and she is once again placing God in the gap by affirming “God’s Will”.

    If religious people were using anything other than God for this rationalization they’d be seen as certifiably diagnosable using the DSM. Instead our culture gives a pass to the deluded who claim to hear God’s will.

  19. Praying to the wrong god will do that to you.

    After all maybe one of those Hindu god’s was the one that deal with pregnancy, she should try praying to that god.

    She should be also told to pray to the spaghetti monster there is no guarantee it will listen but still never know.

    In the interview I wonder how the guy is taking it, she talked all certain but the guy looked more like he wanted to bolt out the door.

  20. I’m with @russellsugden on this one. Having gone through the infertility wringer myself, I have to say that even if this woman wasn’t pro-life, she was probably still pretty likely to go through with the pregnancy anyway. Making a decision like that is extremely hard for anyone but to make that decision after years of futility is even harder. This woman likely doesn’t have a chance to “try again”.

    People going through fertility treatments are not people who are ready to have a go at parenting. They are people who seriously and desperately want… need… to have a child.

    Believing in God and believing this is his gift to you certainly muddies things up a whole lot, though. And if you’re already having a hard time making this decision, consulting religion for advice is not going to help you feel okay about a termination – no matter how humane of a decision that might be.

    My first pregnancy was an ectopic. I had to terminate. I don’t ever really think of it as “having an abortion” because it wasn’t optional. I could either end the pregnancy or the fetus kills us both… and I wasn’t really given any time to weigh my options. I was basically told, “listen lady, you’re in trouble. We’re gonna get you out of this mess.”

    And they did. And I’m alive because of it.

    The funny thing is though, afterward I did some reading… and it turns out that there are some hardcore pro-lifers out there that don’t think such action should be taken in the case of an ectopic pregnancy. Some sites advised me to wait it out. They said I shouldn’t believe my doctor. Some said that sometimes ectopics work themselves out and end up being full-term and healthy pregnancies. Their point: it’s not worth it to murder your baby just to save the life of the mother. You need to have faith that God might work it out.

    The reality: if you don’t terminate an ectopic pregnancy, it will terminate itself or kill the mother. God did not put your embryo in your fallopian tube as a “blessing”.

    The sad thing is, my husband was never able to talk to his mother about what happened with that pregnancy because he knew she would probably disown him for taking part in my choice to murder his child.

  21. Should have added a more serious comment – this is disgusting. Instead of ending its life when it may not even be able to feel pain, she decides to let it be born so that her god can let it suffer and die. This way, she can avoid any sense of responsibility for killing it. The classical example of the ethical dilemma of the man and the trolly car. It’s easier to kill by omission than by taking action.

  22. @daedalus2u:

    She is only 25. If she has been trying to get pregnant for 7 years, that means she started when she was 18. I doubt she has been going through fertility treatments all that time. I really doubt that she has been doing IVF for 7 years.

    That is a fantastic point.

  23. Is it churlish to mention that, the choice we all agree she has (regardless of OUR opinion about what she SHOULD do, it’s HER choice)… is the choice she and her cohort would DENY every other woman?

  24. I think there are a lot of people who don’t think their religious beliefs influence their choices (when it seems so obvious to the rest of us that they do). I also think that religious beliefs can really make you feel better about the choices you make. My mother always claimed she had six children because she wanted to, NOT because she was Catholic. But I’ve often thought that our family of eight was probably accepted more in our Catholic community than it would have been in a richer/more-educated/not-Catholic community! (I grew up in rural Australia, btw.) Last year, a friend of mine had a baby who lived for less than 12 hours. My friend said the science of what happened really helped comfort her – reading the autopsy report, she could see that there wasn’t anything the doctors could have done (more than they did). When people said ‘it’s god’s will’ she wanted to scream at them! Me too! What kind of god thinks it’s ok to do this to people? IMO, an arsehole. Much more comforting to realise there is no god, realise we’re all living things and sometimes babies don’t make it. And that sucks and we cry but we move on.

  25. Imagine the horror of trying to buy shirts! Sometimes gods deal from the bottom of the deck. The funny part is, gods give these little blessings but leave it to us mortals to unravel them. Baby Zweikopf will need intense medical intervention for its short life, and gods won’t provide it.

  26. @daedalus2u:

    Right, she would not have been going through IVF treatments for 7 years. She would have to try for at least a year before being diagnosed as infertile.

    After that, it’s pills… then shots… other procedures, tests… IVF is the last resort. And when it can run $10K per attempt, you’re right, she probably was only going through it for a few months or maybe a year. No one does IVF for 7 years.

    That doesn’t mean it’s any less difficult of a decision. The fact is, she wants a baby. This may be her only chance.

    I don’t know how the length of time she’s been undergoing fertility treatments is relevant.

  27. As a parent, I have to say I wouldn’t bring this baby to term. But as a parent, I wouldn’t judge this woman for wanting a baby no matter what.

    I mean maybe the child will turn out more like Zaphod Beeblebrox from HHG and less like an Ettin from D&D?

    But if the baby turns out to be fairly normal it will raise all kinds of moral issues when one head decides to be an orthodox Jew and the other a devout fundamentalist Muslim. Where’s the soul then? And does the baby get two names or one?

    And if one head falls for a bloke and does him, but the other head is repulsed – is that rape? Or is it only rape if the head that controls the vagina says “no”?

    Boy I hope the baby makes it. This could be totally awesome.

    And maybe this isn’t God’s gift to the parents, perhaps it is God’s gift to the Internet?

  28. @doctoratlantis:

    Lets take it a step up, one head if a boy likes girls and the other head likes boys, what a conundrum or if a girls vise a versa. Oh these silly thoughts are so fun, reality, the thing is going to suffer and die. Or if possible one of them is going to have to die for the other one to live, and life will move on.

    Either way no god means I don’t have to worry about smart decisions makes at least my life a lot simpler.

  29. This woman is an idiot. She might have the legal right to do what she’s doing, but she is violating moral rights across the board. I hope for her sake that God doesn’t do her any additional favors.

    Why is adoption never brought up? Why is it a last resort for so many, only after they failed to have a half-dozen babies at once through some sort of medically assisted fertility treatment.

    I understand the biological drive to spread our genes, but aren’t humans supposed to reason around that? Isn’t our one great power our ability to overcome our animal instincts and look at the big picture?

    I would be (justifiably) in trouble if I just grabbed the next attractive girl I came across, drug her behind a dumpster, and tried to continue my bloodline — but when some woman insists on continuing hers, then we nod and say “it’s your choice” and blithely spend piles of cash to make sure she can, whether she has one child, eight children, or an unfortunate malformed exhibit that will only live a few pain-addled tortured years while the medical community and taxpayers spend untold thousands more to buy it a few extra days of horrible, wretched life.

    Grrrrrr….

    Meanwhile, there are unwanted children all over the world looking for homes. But they get nothing because they have someone else’s genes? This woman would rather have a right proper two-headed British baby that’ll be lucky to make it to a birthday instead of a healthy Chinese baby?

    writerdd, you were asking where the bigotry comes in. I think I found some.

    This woman is a moron and a bigot, and the people who are supporting her are well-meaning enablers doing more harm than good. Developed nations across the globe would be better served to take a fraction of the money they would spend on bringing deformed fetuses, and spend it on making overseas adoptions (or even local adoptions) cheaper and easier. And do not get me started on states that are making it tough for gay couple to adopt or foster.

    With that in mind — anyone want to adopt a puppy? We have a stray.

  30. @phlebas: An international adoption costs about as much as a few rounds of IVF. If the costs are equal, you can’t blame people for going for one of their own.

    More to the point, while it’s difficult to adopt an infant in a developed nation, there’s always a backlog of older children in need of adoption. Why fly to China to get an infant when you can adopt a 5-year-old from your own culture who needs a loving family?

  31. My wife is staunchly pro-life but with two kids here, we’ve had this conversation about what we would do if, on the next kid, the ultrasound turned up something horribly horribly wrong. What if we found out ahead of time that we were going to have a malformed baby, with some kind of problem that was so severe it would never have a normal life. It would be helpless and have to be taken care of like an infant its entire life. What would we do then?

    Her knee jerk reaction was original to still have the baby because it “deserves a chance.” But my question to her was, “But what about our OTHER kids?” Because the instant you have a kid like the hypothetical one I described, your whole life becomes absorbed with taking care of it. Your other children by necessesity are going to receive far less of your attention as you focus a necessarily disproportionate amount of time on this one child who is never really going to reap the benefits of your time. It won’t learn to read. It won’t attend school. It won’t even learn how to love. Meanwhile, you’re sacrificing all this energy changing diapers and catheters that could be invested on your other children who would actually benefit from it.

    I really really hope we never have to face that situation, but I’m hoping she will be a little more liberal in her ideas of what is and isn’t wrong concerning abortion if we do.

  32. @KristinMH:

    I know international adoptions are expensive. I would like to see a comparison between the adoption costs and the medical costs for IVF + delivery for both a healthy baby and one with some severe problems.

    I have to think that the ongoing costs of a two-headed baby, or a Downs baby, or any other expensive-yet-life-stealing disease, quickly outstrips adoption costs. And while I might be wrong, I tend to think a lot of these medical procedures get taken care of somewhere else — it seems like the ones who have large litters of children weren’t in the richest 5% beforehand. If we’re going to subsidize one, I think offsetting adoption costs is better in just about every way.

    But I could be wrong about it.

    And you’re right. Why limit this to newborns?

  33. The adoption question is interesting. I’ve mentioned this in other threads, but as someone with no maternal instinct as yet, I struggle with the idea of my biological child being a better option than an adopted child. If the justification is one of passing on one’s own genes, producing a child that is biologically yours as well as emotionally, then you gotta question whether that attitude would change if you found out your genetic legacy to the world has two heads.

    In other words, with the benefit of hindsight, would the mother in this story still choose her conjoined twins over adoption if she could go back?

  34. The general response to women (and sometimes men) who want to have kids reminds me very much of Dawkins’s discussion of the general response to theists. To quote:

    religious faith is especially vulnerable to offense and should be protected by an abnormally thick wall of respect, in a different class from the respect that any human being should pay to any other.

    Well, please pardon my political incorrectness, but I feel this is a legitimate question: Why should we give such unwarranted respect to this woman, or more to the point, any male’s or female’s chemically driven, highly irrational “need” or desire to have children in a world gone mad with poverty, greed, overpopulation, and declining food sources?

    Adoptions for teh win! If you “need” a baby that badly, track down one of the world’s many hundreds of thousands of orphans.

    I know it’s a deeply scary and hoary old question, but is it not time that we seriously ponder and review the issue of which individual rights are or are not beneficial/harmful to the species as a whole?

    Perhaps yes; perhaps no. But it’s certainly food for thought.

  35. @phlebas:

    The adoption process is not as easy as just flying over to China and picking up some unwanted kids. The approval process is incredibly invasive, and rules can be incredibly strict for many countries.

    I can’t adopt a child from China because I’m too fat. The Chinese forbid me. I can’t adopt a baby from other countries because I got a DUI when I was 19 (nevermind that I’m 31 now with not so much as a speeding ticket since). Ever been on anti-depressants? Denied. Ever made a bad drunken decision and got some love bugs down there? Denied. Arrested for something and had the charges dropped because of a case of mistaken identity? You’re going to need to hire a lawyer to have the record expunged.

    Once you’re approved for an international adoption, the country your baby is in may close its doors, and you can wait indefinitely for it to open back up or you can start the process again for another country with new rules.

    You can’t get a newborn. And it’s not like there are hundreds of thousands of babies waiting for homes. If you’re looking for a healthy infant, you, the adopter, are put on a waiting list until a baby is available for you.

    If you’re adopting a baby from your own country, there’s a reasonable chance that you may never get matched with a child.

    The only way to really guarantee that you’re going to come out of the process as a parent is to adopt older children. Adopt kids in the system or kids with special needs. That’s not something many people aren’t willing or able to do… and, in this case, if she’s going to adopt a child with a debilitating medical condition, why not make the commitment to her own child first?

    Deciding to adopt is never as easy as it’s made out to be.

  36. @Elyse:

    Yeah, I know it’s not simply sending a SASE and a request for a kid that matches the drapes :) I didn’t know about all those other restrictions, like the weight and DUI thing.

    But that’s exactly the reason we need to get the government more involved in these sorts of things. You or I can’t tell the government of, say, Malawi to lighten up and send over some children. But I bet there’s a government close by that can start negotiating such things.

    Or just get a pad of paper that says “From the Desk of Angelina Jolie” and send a gushy note :)

    But my point is that we should not necessarily move heaven and earth to make sure every female human over the age of 18 can give birth to a baby or six if she wants them. I’m not trying to sound callous, but for some certain percentage of the population the deck is stacked against them both biologically and economically.

    When I was a kid, I wanted to be a fighter pilot for awhile. The first thing I heard from a friend of my uncle’s who happened to be in the USAF was that I was going to be too tall — if I had to eject, the canopy would cut my legs off right above my knees. Disappointing, yes, but I realigned my goals instead of demanding that jet canopies get redesigned.

    And that’s what I think people like this woman should be doing. Can’t get a healthy newborn? What about a healthy three-year-old? You might miss seeing their first steps, but you also get to skip potty training and 3am feedings. And just maybe you won’t be dirt poor for the next 20 years too. And you just might be giving someone a much better life than they would have had otherwise.

  37. A short dialoge

    God “Hey, Tkingdoll, good to see you I was just thinking about you. Heh, get it. ‘Thinking about you?”

    Tkingdoll “Yah, good one god.”

    God “Well anywhoo, I have a present for you.”

    Tkingdoll “A present? But I didn’t get you anything.”

    God “Oh, that’s okay, I just love to give presents.”

    Tkingdoll “What did you get me?”

    God “A baby, well really two babies but with one body. It’s conjoined twins! Surprise. And guess what I made extra special sure that they were so mashed up that they will suffer horribly and then die really soon after they are born.”

    Tkingdoll “Why would you do that?”

    God “I told you I just love to give gifts.”

    Tkingdoll “Way to go god. I’ll try to think of a proper way to thank you.”

  38. @phlebas:

    Adoption is actually my skeptical soap box topic… get me drunk and ask me about it and you’d best find a comfortable seat. There are lots of problems with just taking kids from other countries and bringing them to Rich White People land. Governments are involved in international adoptions, agreeing to the terms of the Hague Convention, making sure that the adoptions are in the best interest of the children, but it’s hard to curb corruption.

    There are still issues with some people in certain countries like Guatemala where children are still being trafficked because the Western adoption industry is so profitable. Just a year ago, I heard, Guatemala was re-closed for adoptions. They used to have issues with Guatemalan babies being kidnapped and sold to be adopted to Americans (who were completely unsuspecting). New safeguards were put into place where, before adoptions were finalized, mothers and infants had to take DNA tests to prove that the woman claiming to be the birthmother was the actual birthmother, but those documents were being forged just to get more adoptions through.

    UNICEF is doing a lot of work to try to make things better, thus more difficult for rich white people, and gets a lot of friction from families desperate for children and the adoption industry. Google “UNICEF international adoption” and you’ll get about 5 million hits about the evils of UNICEF and how they’re just dickheads trying to keep black babies out of suburbia.

    When you see rules about “no fatties” or “no homogays” from other countries, it’s the country’s idea of protecting their children. They want to make sure that, if they’re going to send their kids to be raised in another culture/country, they are being raised in a happy and healthy environment. Wrong as it might be, you can’t really go into another country and tell them that Americans and progressive and right and they should loosen the fuck up and hand us some cute little chubby faced China-girls.

    As for adopting an older child, yes, it is an option, but you have to remember that the older the child is, the longer they’ve been institutionalized. They’re not going to be developed like other kids their age and they are going to have emotional needs unique to children who live their entire lives without families. Not to say that these children are “used goods”, but to adopt an older child is not as easy as bringing them home and telling them that they should be happy now because they’re living in the suburbs. It takes a long time for these children to learn to trust. They’ve never experienced true familial love. And, almost always, they experience developmental regression when they come into their “forever homes”.

    In the end, for most families, all the work is worth it. But the amount of time, patience, and dedication is not for everyone… and for someone not prepared for such a challenge to take it on is not in the best interest of anyone involved.

  39. Lisa Chamberlain, the woman in question, is pregnant and unmarried–the BBC article linked to mentions her partner Mike, and this article http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/families/article5505226.ece reveals that Mike is her fiancé. So not only is she a Catholic abiding by Catholic beliefs regarding her dicephalous embryos, but is a naughty, naughty sinner for having “done it” and gotten pregnant before marriage. I wonder if she thinks God is punishing her for out-of-wedlock escapades, or must atone for her indiscretions by keeping her uni-babies.

  40. @Elyse:

    Good thing I didn’t get you drunk, or you might have really gone on ;)

    Okay, clearly I am outclassed on adoption knowledge. I freely admit it.

    So, let’s forget international adoptions for awhile. Pretend McCain had won our election, and a new Margaret Thatcher took over control of the UK. The entire rest of the world threw up its hands and decided it wanted nothing to do with the west.

    Even if the only place this woman with the two-headed fetus can go for an adoption is the United Kingdom, why is this an inferior process to spending thousands on IVF:

    1) Apply to adopt a healthy newborn. (Fails)

    2) Apply to adopt a healthy older kid. (Age tolerance decided in advance) (Fails)

    3) Apply to adopt a special needs infant. (Special needs tolerance decided in advance, but presumably always better than being born with two heads) (Fails)

    4) Comes up with the money for IVF, either on her own, from the church, or working with insurance (hahaha) (Fails)

    5) Reassesses her needs. Adopts my stray dog.

    Now, I don’t know that she didn’t go through that. Maybe she has the money to handle all this without government assistance before, during, and after the birth of this unfortunate kid(s). And she might be able to get by on donations, because this is an unusual (and now publicized) case. But for every one of her, there are who-knows-how-many others.

    And maybe I’m wrong about all of it. Maybe this isn’t really a problem, and we’re once again being misled by the media who report the unusual cases as though they are the norm.

    And I don’t know what sort of problems an institutionalized four-year-old can have. But I would guess they generally fade compared to the problems you’d have with sextuplets.

  41. All the talk about the hardships of IVF and adoption is really interesting, but it’s also irrelevant.

    No matter how this mother suffered so far, I have a hard time to agree with or even try to justify her actions, and it really bugs me to see people praising her for doing a “noble” thing.

    The fact is that she is not doing this for the children, but for herself – she is putting her egothistical urge to have kids, no matter if to answer to a supposed biological imperative, above the pain and suffering the fetuses will endure for their potentially short life if they`re allowed to develop.

    I can understand the reasoning that siamese twins have at least a chance to have a satisfactory enough life, and that such satisfactory life is arguably better than no life at all, BUT only in the case the twins’ existence is a given: if she found out about it just at birth, for example. However, the twins do not exist, unless one falls for the religious values that still permeate our society, including most of the skeptics’ territories, so it’s silly to talk about their happiness.

    The only reason for them to come to life and very likely suffer is their mother’s egoism, which is understandable, since she’s human, but is in no way noble or commendable.

    Cheers,
    NH

  42. She spent 7 years trying to conceive? She’s only 25!! I love how this “strict” catholic isn’t even married to her “partner” either by the sound of it. Conjoined twins and any sort of deformity really shows us just how animal we are and how biological the whole process is to make a being. I don’t understand why people with problems think their sicko “god” purposely wanted them to be different and to suffer to “learn” a lesson. And then if something good happens when they expect it to be bad is a “miracle” even though god caused the bad thing in the first place. It makes nooo sense. And now these poor babies will probably suffer because of her fallacies. She’s only 25 she has lots of years to concieve.

  43. @CobaltG:

    I think if she has been trying to get pregnant since she was still a teen, then she need some good old fashion psychiatric help, there is something wrong with this women, but hey, she is getting a lot of attention which could be all she really wants.

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