selective reduction

Recently, there was an article in the New York Times called The Two-Minus-One Pregnancy.  It’s about the growing phenomenon of women who are pregnant with twins reducing their pregnancy down to just one baby.  I was made aware of this article on one of the blogs I frequently follow.  I usually don’t comment on the blogs of people I don’t know personally, but this time I felt compelled to respond.  Lots of women were posting and saying things like,”I wouldn’t make that choice, but I don’t want to judge anyone else who did.  I’m not in her situation.”  I responded:

When babies become a commodity, when life becomes defined by choice, then the parents have full choice over all aspects of their pre-born progenies’ lives.

The legalization of abortion did an odd thing to women’s minds in this country.  Now that we all have “choice,” along with that comes the concept of control.  From the time we start our periods, we are told that we can – and should – control our fertility.  We control it with birth control methods when we don’t want kids, and when our method fails, we can make the choice to have an abortion.

So, it makes logical sense that we also should also be able to choose when we have our children — except it doesn’t always work that way.  In order to regain control of our fertility, some women choose to use medical techniques, some of them quite invasive, to try to control when we have babies.  We didn’t want babies before, but we want them now, so we should have them now.  It should be under our control, right?

It’s all about that belief that we have control.  As long as our American society has given women “choice,” we have to give her choice in ALL fertility-related circumstances lest we be inconsistent.  And sometimes, that exercise of “choice” leads to some pretty unbelievable choices, choices that make many of us step back and privately say, “How could she have chosen to do THAT?”  We publicly say “We can’t judge,” because we know that in order to not judge our fellow women’s choice in one area, we have to not judge her choice in all areas.

But in reality, we all know what she has chosen to do.  And for those of us who would love to be in this woman’s shoes or who have been in that woman’s shoes (twins! two for the price of one! a double blessing!), her choice and the circumstances surrounding it just makes us sick.

To my surprise, I got a few women who posted their agreement with me, saying that I had said exactly what they were thinking.  Later the next day, the blog’s author, who is herself a twin, said that while the whole idea of reducing a twin pregnancy down to a single pregnancy made her feel weird, she was glad that the woman had the right to make that choice for herself.  I felt compelled to respond again:

It’s too bad the aborted twin never got a chance to grow up and make choices for him/herself.

I just read a story today about Abigail and Brittney Hensel, two conjoined twin girls who have grown up to be 19 years old.  They’re completely joined from the belly-button down, but yet they’ve grown up to become more or less healthy persons.  They seem to have a happy, fulfilling life.  They play sports, go to school, even drive a car, so I think it’s not a stretch to say that when their parents learned they were having conjoined twins (which they did during the pregnancy), they didn’t say, “Oh, there is something wrong with these kids and they’ll never have a normal life, so we’ll terminate.”  The twins know they’re different, but they’re still happy to be alive.  Given the choice, I have no doubt that they would choose to be alive.

Every mother of a special needs child I have ever talked to or read about has been happy that that child came into her life.  Every special needs grownup has always been happy to be alive.  I will never understand why people in America continually try to judge what quality of life is worth living.  It’s frightening, really.  This kind of choosing who lives and dies is reminiscent of what Nazis were doing in Germany during the Holocaust where they only wanted white Aryans to live.  Nazis famously killed Jews, but they also killed the crippled, mentally retarded, homosexuals, and “special needs” people.  How is aborting a child who might potentially have “special needs” any different?

As a society, how can we possibly allow this kind of behavior??  How is this relative morality good for our society?  To say, “I wouldn’t do it, but I won’t judge anyone else who does differently” does not make logical sense.  What if our laws were that way?  What if I didn’t have to stop for red lights and someone else did?  What if it were okay for me to steal but not you?  How could society possibly function?

It just doesn’t make logical sense to allow individuals to choose which other individuals, born or unborn, live and which ones die.  And it certainly makes no sense at all for the woman in the NY Times article to choose to reduce from twins down to a singleton.  Boy, do I have pity on that child who is still alive.  With a control-hungry mother like that, what kind of expectations will s/he be subjected to by that mother as s/he grows up?  And the guilt that child will experience as the “chosen one”!  Oh my goodness.  It’s all so disturbing.

I actually just did find out about Abigail and Brittney Hensel yesterday.  You can read more about them here.  I suspect their family is Lutheran, because somewhere I read that they attended Luther High School somewhere in Minnesota.  I don’t know what God was thinking when he allowed those two girls to live their lives conjoined, but that’s his thinking, not mine.

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3 thoughts on “selective reduction

  1. This is why I hate knowing that I will have to have another “procedure” in order to have another child: I will never have the wonderful surprise of simply being late for my period. It will be cold and calculated, planned and plotted; hardly a miracle at all.

  2. Go Em! The whole “choice” issue bothers me so much, and I completely agree with how you worded both responses. (I will have to use the “red light” scenario sometime!) Thank you for standing up to these women!

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