Viewers, and especially evangelical viewers, are aghast. How could such a loving, Christian family disintegrate so quickly? Is the failure of their marriage due to the stress of parenting multiples? Can it be attributed to Kate’s love of celebrity versus Jon’s desire to retreat from the limelight? Might it be the result of living under constant (albeit self-imposed) surveillance? I suspect that each of these theories tell part of the story. But the story that has not been told is the one that sees in Jon and Kate the shortcomings of evangelical piety itself.
We evangelicals tend to be easily impressed. We cheered on Jon and Kate’s decision to carry all six babies to term but rarely considered the prior question: Was it right for them to undergo risky fertility treatments in the first place? They had been married only a matter of months when Kate, who was in her mid-20s at the time, took fertility medication to stimulate her ovaries for intrauterine insemination and became pregnant with their twins, Cara and Mady.
And. . .
Six babies were growing in a space designed for one, posing great risks to the life of each baby as well as to the life of their mother. Faced with this unintended but preventable situation, Jon and Kate were right to carry all of the babies to term. But this decision is not enough to warrant their status as models of Christian faithfulness. That most evangelicals were satisfied to celebrate the end—six miraculous lives—rather than assess the morality of the means whereby those lives were created, betrays the thinness of evangelical reflection on reproductive ethics.