Fetal Twin Reduction – Ethical Debate Over Killing Off One Of Your Unborn KidsBy Cecilia On August 20, 2011 Under Parenting Controversy - Public
This week, an article in the New York Times Magazine drew attention to the increasing number of women having two-minus-one abortions – opting to abort one fetus in a perfectly healthy twin pregnancy because their preference is to have only one child.
The article, titled The Two-Minus-One Pregnancy, profiles several couples who chose "reduction to a singleton" from healthy twin pregnancies in order to avoid overburdening themselves financially or emotionally. It shares the story of a woman named Jenny who became pregnant with twins at the age of 45 through IVF, and then chose to terminate one of her two healthy fetuses. Discussing her reasoning for opting to undergo selective reduction during her pregnancy, Jenny told the New York Times:
"Things would have been different if we were 15 years younger or if we hadn't had children already or if we were more financially secure. If I had conceived these twins naturally, I wouldn't have reduced this pregnancy, because you feel like if there's a natural order, then you don't want to disturb it. But we created this child in such an artificial manner — in a test tube, choosing an egg donor, having the embryo placed in me — and somehow, making a decision about how many to carry seemed to be just another choice."
Firstly, it’s a little bit contradictory for a person to say that they wouldn’t reduce a naturally conceived twin pregnancy so as not to disturb the natural order, yet they are fully prepared to disturb the natural order by using IVF to conceive a child when the natural order has prevented them from doing so.
Secondly, it’s understandable that not all couples are emotionally or financially prepared for the journey of having two children at once, yet women going into IVF are made fully aware that there is a higher chance of them yielding multiple children.
It’s been established that when two embryos are transferred, the odds of having a twin pregnancy are around 30 percent. So if a woman has multiple embryos implanted and winds up pregnant with twins, she can't claim to be surprised by the results. So, if you knew without a shadow of doubt that you only wanted one child, why would you knowingly choose to transfer two embryos with the intent of aborting one if both "took" given that selective reduction puts both fetuses at risk, as well as the health of the mother?
Doctors regularly perform fetal reductions on women pregnant with multiples when complications arise. A suffering fetus in a set of triplets or quadruplets may need to be aborted in order for the others to survive. And that’s perfectly understandable. But selecting one healthy fetus over another perfectly healthy fetus for termination with no medical reason for doing so is an entirely different story; and an unsettling one at that.
It’s widely assumed that people who can afford IVF would have enough money to raise a pair of children. Which then begs the question of whether the driving force behind the decision of these parents to extinguish one of their twins is the self-centred notion that a second child would prevent them from being able to live the more luxurious lifestyle they want?
Aborting a twin for social reasons seems incredibly egocentric to me. Having and raising children should be done selflessly. If people are entering into parenthood on the selfish premise that it would be too inconvenient for them to deal with a second child, perhaps they should skip having a child altogether.
Personally, I cannot imagine killing off a baby that is there as a result of an intentional pregnancy, and that is growing in my womb cosied up with their twin. I wonder how these parents will be able to live with their decision after the baby is born, knowing that there was another just like him or her that they chose to do away with. I can’t help but wonder how these parents are going to explain their decision to the “chosen one”…
“By the way son, you were bunked in with a brother but we decided to whack your twin before he was born so that we could afford a boat.”
Well, maybe not in those exact words.
In all seriousness though, how is the kept child going to feel about it? Will they lament the loss of their twin brother or sister? Will they find it disturbing that they could very easily have been the unwanted twin that his or her parents chose to snuff out?
In my opinion, when you’re lucky enough to be blessed with a miracle through IVF, it seems ungrateful to decide that being blessed with two children is not the miracle you wanted, and then kill off what would have almost certainly been a perfectly healthy baby.
I can’t help feeling that two-to-one abortions are a perversion of the privilege that IVF affords would-be parents who wouldn’t otherwise have been able to conceive a child at all.
Do you think it is ethical to reduce a pregnancy from two to one for social reasons? Is it the ultimate in self-centered behavior or simply a responsible parenting decision?