Sunday, December 12, 2010

The "ethics" of "selective reduction".

When is twins too many?

Like so many other couples these days, the Toronto-area business executive and her husband put off having children for years as they built successful careers. Both parents were in their 40s — and their first son just over a year old — when this spring the woman became pregnant a second time. Seven weeks in, an ultrasound revealed the Burlington, Ont., resident was carrying twins. “It came as a complete shock,” said the mother, who asked not to be named. “We’re both career people. If we were going to have three children two years apart, someone else was going to be raising our kids. ... All of a sudden our lives as we know them and as we like to lead them, are not going to happen.”

Successful. Financially secure. Not destitute. Not facing hardship. Just facing the prospect of their plans being thwarted.

Then Mother of the Year learned about "selective reduction". She could simply return the "surplus" twin to sender. After all, she'd only ordered ONE baby. Imagine the gall of the Universe, to not process her order correctly! Had the Universe asked her if she'd like an additional bonus baby? No! And the Universe owes it to Mother of the Year to always give her exactly what she wants!

Not surprisingly, Mother of the Year had one twin -- ahem -- "selectively reduced". She's quite thrilled and has no qualms or regrets. She got what she wanted.

Making the bratty girl in Willie Wonka look like Mother Teresa in comparison.

Selective reductions are typically carried out for women pregnant with triplets or greater, where the risk of harm or death climbs sharply with each additional fetus. The Ontario couple is part of what some experts say is a growing demand for reducing twins to one, fuelled more by socio-economic imperatives than medical need, and raising vexing new ethical questions.

What "vexing new ethical questions"? Couples have been snuffing their unborn kids because they don't like having their plans thwarted all along. So why is the idea of snuffing just one, instead of snuffing them both, so "vexing"? If parents are entitled to a dead baby, they're entitled to a dead baby, regardless of whether or not they allow other babies to live.

Though, on reflection, I think what "vexes" people is that "selective reduction" makes it very clear that there is an unborn baby there for whom death is being chosen. "Selective reduction" makes it impossible to pretend that it's about "removing tissue" or "interrupting a pregnancy". There is more than one heartbeat. And Mom and Doc are choosing which heart or hearts to stop, with the same kind of lethal injection that the ACLU considers too "cruel" to impose on an anesthetized convicted multiple murderer.

Why is killing one and letting the other live more "vexing" than killing them both and getting pregnant again with a singleton?

Inquiring minds want to know.

1 comment:

Chrissy said...

This absolutly breaks my heart! I was pregnant with twins last year. i found out in Sep. 09 that one of my twins had a birthdefect called anencephlay. The drs wanted me to do selective reduction, but I wouldn't even consider it! Some woman/mothers make me sick and don't deserve to be a mother!