No Kidding

Duggar Says Overpopulation Is a Lie & More Controversies

TLC’s mom of 19 says overpopulation is a lie. A look at the biggest debates involving TV’s mega-brood.

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Michelle Claims Overpopulation Is ‘a Lie’

Did you know that if every single human being in the world stood shoulder-to-shoulder they would fit within the city limits of Jacksonville, Fla.? That’s the truth about overpopulation, according to Michelle Duggar, the baby-popping matriarch of TLC’s 19 Kids and Counting. In a Web interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, Duggar answered a question about whether her oversize family hurts the environment by disputing the idea of overpopulation entirely. “First off, the idea of overpopulation is not accurate,” Duggar said before proposing her theory about Jacksonville’s ability to accommodate 7 billion people. In fact, she pointed out, the world is in need of more babies. “We’ve had other countries coming to our doorstep, asking us to please let their people know that they need to have more children,” she said. “They are seeing that their death rates are outnumbering their birth rates and they’re in crisis.”

Campaigning for Rick Santorum

Given their staunchly anti-abortion beliefs, it perhaps isn’t surprising that the Duggars support Rick Santorum—they did, however, raise a few eyebrows by packing up their things and hitting the road to campaign with him. “He is the true conservative in the race,” Michelle has told The Daily Beast. “Rick Santorum has the family values that we hold dear in our hearts.” The Duggars have even recorded a “19 Reasons and Counting to Vote for Rick Santorum” video, in which they get the entire family involved, even managing to get their second-youngest (who sounds like she’s still very new at talking) to utter, “Rick Santorum for president!”

A Failed Extortion Plot

In February, an Iowa woman was charged with extortion for demanding either $10,000 or the cancellation of 19 Kids and Counting in exchange for not selling photos of an unnamed female Duggar in “apparently intimate situations” to a magazine. The woman, Teresa Hunt, allegedly sent a letter to Discovery Communications explaining her professional relationship with a 56-year-old musician whom she claimed was sleeping with one of the cast members. The would-be extortion plot was foiled, however, as the “incriminating” photos turned out to be perfectly platonic snapshots of Amy Duggar, a first cousin of the family, and the musician in question, James Garrett. Garrett was actually tickled by the whole “racy photo” situation: “[Amy and I] actually enjoyed a good laugh because we obviously knew they didn’t exist!” he said in an interview with Radar Online.

Ignoring Doctors’ Advice and Going For Baby No. 20

Despite the health problems both mother and child faced during the last pregnancy, Michelle and Jim Bob revealed on Today last November that they were expecting baby No. 20. Her last child, Josie, had been delivered three-and-a-half months early (at which time she weighed only 1 pound 6 ounces and had a number of health problems) because Michelle had begun suffering from preeclampsia. Despite the risks, Michelle went ahead with the pregnancy, saying, “We are so excited. I was not thinking that God would give us another one, and we are just so grateful.”

The Miscarriage of Their 20th Child

A mere 19 weeks into the pregnancy, Jim Bob and Michelle found out during a routine checkup that their 20th baby no longer had a heartbeat; Michelle miscarried naturally three days later. The episode chronicling the sad event aired Tuesday in the season finale of 19 Kids and Counting. “Both of our hearts just sank,” Jim Bob said in the episode. “There was no heartbeat and we were both just devastated. Your whole world turns upside down.” Despite their heartbreak over the miscarriage, the Duggars revealed in February that they would still like more children. “We would be open to more if God saw fit to bless us with more,” Michelle said to Today Moms. “I would do it again.”

The Stillborn Photo Debacle

Both deciding to go forward with a 20th pregnancy then miscarrying made plenty of Duggar headlines—but neither incited quite the level of controversy that the family’s decision to take photographs of the stillborn child and hold a memorial service for her. Named Jubilee Shalom, the stillborn baby girl’s hands and feet were featured in photographs distributed at a memorial service in Arkansas. Phrases like “There is no foot too small that it cannot leave an imprint on this world” were printed on the photos.

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Michelle’s Outrage at the Komen Foundation

Michelle Duggar’s not one to keep her opinions to herself when it comes to anything parenthood-related. This definitely applied to this year’s controversy over the Susan G. Komen Foundation, which announced in February that it would cut funding to Planned Parenthood, then, three days later, reversed its decision. “This appalls me,” Duggar said during a Conservative Political Action Conference panel in February. “I can barely sit still for this.” She denounced Komen’s decision to stand by Planned Parenthood as “ludicrous,” but expressed hope that the young people at CPAC would preserve conservative family values. “In our country, strong families are where it’s at,” she said. “We strengthen our families with lower taxes and less government.”

Duggar Family Clones? The Bateses

For anyone who thought the Duggars were a singularly bizarre family, meet the Bateses. As of February, they’re now tied with the Duggars as America’s largest family. The Tennessee brood has also suffered through two miscarriages; they also don’t believe in birth control; they also support Rick Santorum and—you guessed it—they also just scored their own TLC reality show. You might think the two families are rivals, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. The two families have met and (so far) have nothing but nice things to say about each other. “The Duggars are some of the kindest-hearted people,” Gil Bates (patriarch of the Bates family) said. “We’re all in a race against time to finish whatever work God has for us in the time we have left.”