20 kids: God's will or Duggar's decision?

Looks like TLC’s program “19 Kids and Counting” will have to change its name again.

Michelle Duggar, mother of 19 children and a reality TV star, recently announced another pregnancy. She and her husband, Jim Bob, had an incredibly trying year in 2010 when her 19th child, Josie, was born 15 weeks premature. Josie spent most of her first few months in an intensive care unit in the Little Rock Children’s Hospital where Duggar was life-flighted after her blood pressure skyrocketed, signaling a life-threating preeclampsia condition that almost took the life of both mother and baby.

Now, the controversial question of “will they or won’t they?” conceive again is being answered loud and clear:

“Every child deserves to feel excited they are a part of life,” Duggar said.

When asked if her increased risk of preeclampsia was enough to make her call it quits, she responded with, “If we felt that way, we would have stopped back with our second birth. There are many women who have experienced preeclampsia and have gone on to have more children. That whole mindset that you stop after a problem pregnancy isn’t realistic … you may encounter struggles along the way. You may not have a perfect pregnancy, but each child is a precious gift.”

I agree with Duggar on that point and personally believe every new human deserves to be welcomed with celebration and loving arms. What worries me is what will happen to these 19 kids if a tragedy occurs because of a serious health risk Duggar knew was a very real and increased possibility.

“As I thought long and hard about that, I realized that ‘There’s no greater love than this that a man would be willing to lay down his life,’ and I think as a mom and a parent you’d be willing to do that for your child — even the child that’s not here yet. I would be willing to do that,” she said.

Maybe Duggar is willing to risk her own life, but what about the life of this unborn child? Isn’t she also putting him/her at risk?

“Looking into the face of Josie, I would do it again,” she said.

The Duggars have been very open about their faith in God, frequently expressing their belief that it was their Heavenly Father who chose to bless them with 19 (going on 20) kids and it’s therefore his decision to continue to give life or take it away.

In my faith, I believe in free agency, one of the greatest gifts of all. I wonder if the Duggars somehow have missed the very crucial fact that God doesn’t intervene in our decision-making; therefore, it is ultimately given to us to decide what will become of our lives. He’ll guide us, help us and be there for us but won’t tell us exactly what to do and how to do it. Otherwise, we’d never learn anything for ourselves, however painful that learning experience may be.

So when Duggar essentially throws up her hands and says, “Well, this is what God wanted, otherwise I wouldn’t have gotten pregnant!” I somewhat disagree. This is also what she wanted, what she had control over. That’s why so many babies are born to people who are less than welcoming, to hostile environments, to single teenage girls. They had the right to make that decision but also have to own up to the consequence.

Having watched the Duggars for several years, it’s been my opinion that this is a very well-intentioned couple who have done a remarkable job at raising and rearing such a large family. However, I think some of their views are extreme. I don’t think they are delusional or misguided or “out there.” I firmly believe they firmly believe in what they’re doing. But I wonder what their balance of faith and logic is, probably something we all struggle with.

What do you think of the Duggars’ decision to continue to bear children no matter the cost? Have you ever had to make an extremely risky choice regarding pregnancy?

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