Progressive Revival

The single mother of six who lives with her parents and then has more eight children seems to have missed the class on good parenting. Simply put, this is too many children.  They can’t each get the care and attention they need. The mom wants to go back to school. Who then takes care of them?. Who pays?  All the children were born with the help of artificial means.


To live in the technological revolution of the new world, we need ways to shape our ethical and moral response. My Catholic Church has subtle and nuanced arguments about just war, and when it is justifiable to take up arms. These volumes fill libraries. But on sex and reproduction, they are frozen in a pre-scientific age.   


Sadly, my Catholic Church does not seem ready to provide guidance.  They revert to the barricades—their usual unsubtle and unhelpful response:  NO NO NO. They forbid parents who desperately want a child from using artificial insemination. Yet, thousands of children and adults live fruitful lives because their parents turned to science. Are they saying that these children should never have been born?  


This is not the moment to rail against those single men who don’t understand love, sex without children, and having  children without sex. But I hope that if not the Church, the group of bio-ethicists who have emerged in the last thirty years will discuss when in vitro is appropriate, when having more children is having too many, and what shape a healthy family might take.


I don’t think this is the moment for laws and regulations, but  certainly the time is ripe for someone, the woman’s parents,  health professionals, a minister, a social worker to say that six children  born to a single mother is enough. Today’s children need and deserve attention—and they won’t get it when there are 13 others who also want it.  


I am pro-conscience and believe that mothers should decide what is the best for their families and themselves. But as social beings, we are helped in the formation of our conscience by our family, friends and social norms,. And we could be helped by my Catholic Church should it decide to move beyond the ancient  biology of the  homunculus.


I hope that this woman’s story will provoke a vigorous dialog as to when bearing a child is a blessing to the family and the child, when it is not, and how those who are pro-conscience can best keep off consciences informed.



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