Thursday, July 30, 2009

It's a sticky wicket

Over the past couple of days I've been reading a lot in the British newspapers about Theresa Winters.

Theresa is 36 years old, unemployed, dependent on benefits to survive and lives with her partner, Toney Housden. Theresa is currently 25 weeks into her 14th pregnancy. Yes, I said 14th. That's slightly eyebrow raising, but in an age where Jon and Kate plus their eight and the Duggar family and their 18 are mainstream TV stars, it's not as shocking as it once was.

What is shocking, however, is that NONE of the 13 children Theresa has given birth to are in her or Toney's custody.


They have all been removed from their custody by British social services. Theresa says that until "they" let her keep one, she's going to keep right on reproducing.

That's not the thing that really disturbs me, though. I mean, it's bad enough, but....the thing that really bothers me are the reports that several of her children have PEHO Syndrome.
PEHO is rare, and is considered to be an autosomal recessive trait - so for several of the couple's children to be born with it is strongly indicative of it being their genetic material at fault rather than a random or environmental cause.

This has presented a rather sticky ethical wicket for me and has caused me to ask myself some questions:

Who is suffering here?

Ultimately, who is paying the price for this couple exercising their reproductive freedom?

At what point does 'reproductive freedom' become 'sheer madness' and 'abject cruelty'?

Does society (or even the gub'mint) have a right to step in? They already have, to an extent; they're removed EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. of the 13 children from these people's custody.

When, if ever, is forced sterilization appropriate?

I don't have answers as yet. My knee-jerk reaction is one of 'stop the madness; get a court order to give that girl a tubal ligation and that gormless wonder a vasectomy and do it soon', but that attitude is, I think, the very top of a slippery slope - one that I can't see the bottom of. I resent that they can just keep on having babies, and I fucking hate that they're just having more babies when there's clearly a genetic defect and, consequently, a good chance that those babies will have little to no quality of life whatsoever....but again, where does that train of thought come to an end?

I just don't know, y'all. I just don't know.


Medic(three) said...

wow... Just wow. This shit is sickening. Poor kids.

bethaperry said...

I have a 9 year old little girl that has PEHO Syndrome. (unconfirmed of course since there is not specific genetic marker) I was looking for other blogs of PEHO parents. I truly think these people should be put in jail! I know how devastating this particular syndrome is. As soon as I found out that this was an autosomal recessive / genetic syndrome I made my husband get snipped. There is no way I would put another child through the daily hell my daughter has been through, not to mention my husband and I! These people are completely insane! If they had to deal with all of the medical issues not to mention the lack of sleep and severe sadness of watching your child suffer constantly they would definitely sing a different tune.