“Selective Reduction”: Barbaric, but not Uniquely So

By Dave Andrusko

Just before we went on vacation, I ran a piece on Ruth Padawer’s extraordinary story in the New York Times Magazine, “The Two-Minus-One Pregnancy” that produced a lot of feedback.

Padawer’s LONG and carefully research story detailed the evolution of “selective reduction” from a time when a woman carrying multiple babies would kill some or nearly all of them to the latest development where twins are “reduced” to a “singleton.” What’s ensued is a vigorous back and forth, the product of deep unease even by “pro-choicers” staggered by the bizarre schizophrenia of desperately attempting to get pregnant in the first place (typically by the use of fertility drugs or IVF) and then taking the life of one of two babies.

How are the babies killed? A needle full of potassium chloride is injected into the twin’s heart.

The Washington Post posted a piece on-line August 15, “Is it okay to reduce a pregnancy from two to one?” and Janice D’Arcy summarized some of the feedback yesterday at the Post’s “On Parenting” site. While the headline is no doubt technically true—“No consensus on ethics of ‘reducing’ twins”—it’s hard not to conclude that it wasn’t only a “majority” but a large majority that “condemned the legal practice of aborting, or ‘reducing,’ one embryo in a healthy pregnancy…”

Not surprisingly it was not just pro-lifers, but pro-choicers who were stunned and revolted. Equally unsurprisingly, some of the staunchest opponents were twins or someone who had lost a twin. And perhaps the least surprising of all was resistance to the rationalization that aborting one of the twins was done on behalf the baby herself or the family.

“Among the many comments from those who found the practice abhorrent, this note was especially bracing,” D’Arcy writes:

“Just because parents think they’re doing something good for their families does not mean they actually are, and it does not mean we need to respect their choices. People who carry out honor killings, for example, likewise think they’re acting for the good of their family. But that practice is utterly unjustifiable. You’ll never find me engaged in “nuanced and respectful conversation” about honor killings — they’re wrong. I’m right. Period. Something of the same moral relativism is going on here.”

There are many other examples but let me offer just one more, the one I consider the best. Under the headline, “Half-aborted,” William Saletan wrote a piece at Slate that asked the question, “Why do ‘reductions’ of twin pregnancies trouble pro-choicers?” It is must reading [www.slate.com/id/2301322].

There are many reasons, some that amazingly illustrate the contours of the human heart and the labyrinthic reasoning that underlies the decision to abort. Some pro-choicers who wrote to pro-abortion sites attributed their uneasiness to the fact that these were deliberate pregnancies or that the whole process of manufacturing children was the triumph of “consumerism.”

As Saletan points out, abortion is typically rationalized as the “lesser of two evils” combined with the excuse [my word] that the child is an “accident.” But in these instances parents have gone to extraordinary lengths to conceive a child.

In addition, and most important, through an act of verbal gymnastics worthy of a gold medal we have babies who are “babies” when wanted and some other dismissive label [”fetus,” “fertilized egg”] when not.

“Reduction destroys this distinction,” Saletan writes. “It combines, in a single pregnancy, a wanted and an unwanted fetus. In the case of identical twins, even their genomes are indistinguishable. You can’t pretend that one is precious and the other is just tissue. You’re killing the same creature to which you’re dedicating your life.”

D’Arcy ends her Monday column with this: “Legally, should twin ‘reduction’ be treated like abortion in this country? Or is it a different practice altogether?”

That a major pro-abortion newspaper would even entertain this possibility gives you some idea how queasy this particularly (but not uniquely) barbaric practice makes even true believers.

Your feedback is important to improving National Right to Life News Today. Please send your comments to daveandrusko@gmail.com. If you like, join those who are following me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/daveha

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