“Twin reduction”: Our pro-death, vanity abortion culture in a nutshell

Photo of 10 week old baby courtesy of David Barlow/National Geographic's In the Womb seriesI’ve written about the issue of abortion at this blog many times; my opinions on it are crystal clear (if you’re a new reader, click here for an overall summary of my pro-life views and how I got there). So it goes without saying that I’ve read many, many studies, articles, interviews, documentaries, etc on the grotesque practice of the termination of unborn life and oftentimes walk away from the illuminating pieces of information absolutely disgusted with our “me first” “if it feels good do it” casual culture – a culture made fashionable in the 60s by “progressives” who took the women’s lib movement way too far to the point that not only was the institution of marriage and a stable two-parent family unit viewed as a symbol of the “repressed, subservient woman”, but also that the precious, fragile lives of the unborn were portrayed as a “burdensome inconvenience” for the “modern woman.” And as a result, she needed “legal options” to be able to take care of the so-called burden.

As a result, the ultimate pro-death ruling was made thanks to the SCOTUS with the Roe vs. Wade decision, a decision that has led to the termination of over 40 million innocent unborn lives since 1973.

You’d think that with all I’ve read, heard, and watched on this issue that anything else I read/see/hear at this point will not faze me. But it does. And it has. Case in point: this New York Times Magazine piece about the growing practice of “twin reduction”- which is the fancy, sanitized term for “aborting one of the twins.” No, it’s not a popular thing to do in America – yet – but it’s a growing trend that once again should concern any moral-minded, warm-blooded American who views the little life growing inside a woman’s body as a human being rather than an expendable “clump of cells” or “parasite.” I’m going to paste a few quotes from the piece as I believe there has never been an article written that has so clearly demonstrated with crystal clarity the abject moral bankruptcy of the pro-abortion crowd by demonstrating their casual, bloodless approach to the process of aborting one of the twins a woman carries for, you guessed it, convenience purposes. My comments are below the quotes and passages I found particularly disturbing (bolded emphasis added by me):

As Jenny lay on the obstetrician’s examination table, she was grateful that the ultrasound tech had turned off the overhead screen. She didn’t want to see the two shadows floating inside her. Since making her decision, she had tried hard not to think about them, though she could often think of little else. She was 45 and pregnant after six years of fertility bills, ovulation injections, donor eggs and disappointment — and yet here she was, 14 weeks into her pregnancy, choosing to extinguish one of two healthy fetuses, almost as if having half an abortion [Note: There’s no “almost” about it! – ST]. As the doctor inserted the needle into Jenny’s abdomen, aiming at one of the fetuses, Jenny tried not to flinch, caught between intense relief and intense guilt.

“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,” she said later. “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. The pregnancy was all so consumerish to begin with, and this became yet another thing we could control.”

I’m sure the surviving twin will totally understand once they get older and the decision-making process on the issue of aborting his or her other half is explained to them. / sarc


What is it about terminating half a twin pregnancy that seems more controversial than reducing triplets to twins or aborting a single fetus? After all, the math’s the same either way: one fewer fetus. Perhaps it’s because twin reduction (unlike abortion) involves selecting one fetus over another, when either one is equally wanted. Perhaps it’s our culture’s idealized notion of twins as lifelong soul mates, two halves of one whole. Or perhaps it’s because the desire for more choices conflicts with our discomfort about meddling with ever more aspects of reproduction.

Or perhaps its the thought that either the parents or the doctor is making the decision as to which one lives and which one dies, knowingly terminating a life while another life is next to it developing – not that it really should be any more disturbing than the parents or the mother of the unborn child making the decision to abort a single fetus. Either way, it’s extinguishing the hearbeat of a developing baby, either via medicinal abortion or a vacuum abortion – where the baby is sucked out of the mother’s body piece by piece. Or is cut out by the “physician” piece by piece via a hook-type instrument.

I could go on but you get the picture.

That shift has made some doctors in the field uneasy, and many who perform pregnancy reductions refuse to go below twins. After being rebuffed by physicians close to home, Jenny went online and found Dr. Joanne Stone, the highly regarded head of Mount Sinai’s maternal-fetal-medicine unit. Jenny traveled thousands of miles to get there. She still resents the first doctor back home who told her she shouldn’t reduce twins and another who dismissively told her to just buck up and buy diapers in bulk.

Poor Jenny. Ticked off because some doctors out there apparently had more ethical and moral concerns about aborting one twin than she, the mother of the twins themselves, had. Pass the Kleenex, please. The world’s smallest violin is playing.

Even some people who support abortion rights admit to feeling queasy about reduction to a singleton. “I completely respect and support a woman’s choice,” one commentator wrote on UrbanBaby.com, referring to a woman who said she reduced her pregnancy to protect her marriage and finances. One fetus was male, the other female, and the woman eliminated the male because she already had a son. “Something about that whole situation just seemed unethical to me,” the commentator continued. “I just couldn’t sleep at night knowing that I terminated my daughter’s perfectly healthy twin brother.”

In retrospect, loving her daughter as I’m sure she does, she probably couldn’t sleep at night knowing that she terminated her own daughter had it been a single child pregnancy, either, but of course I doubt she thought of that dreadful scenario since she “respects” the “right to choose” – it’s surprising that some aborts even have a moral compass when it comes to the issue of the unborn. This one, at least, draws the line at twin reduction. Thank goodness.

Stay with me on this next one. It’s longish but a must-read as it’s about a doctor’s “evolving” perspective on twin reduction:

Dr. Mark Evans, an obstetrician and geneticist, was among the first to reduce a pregnancy. He quickly became one of the procedure’s most visible and busiest practitioners, as well as one of the most prolific authors on the topic. Early on, Evans decided the industry needed guidelines, and in 1988, he and an ethicist with the National Institutes of Health issued them. One of their central tenets was that most reductions below twins violated ethical principles.

Two years later, as demand for twin reductions climbed, Evans published another journal article, arguing that reduction to singletons “crosses the line between doing a procedure for a medical indication versus one for a social indication.” He urged his colleagues to resist becoming “technicians to our patients’ desires.”

The justification for eliminating some fetuses in a multiple pregnancy was always to increase a woman’s chance of bringing home a healthy baby, because medical risks rise with every fetus she carries. The procedure, which is usually performed around Week 12 of a pregnancy, involves a fatal injection of potassium chloride into the fetal chest. The dead fetus shrivels over time and remains in the womb until delivery. Some physicians found reduction unnerving, particularly because the procedure is viewed under ultrasound, making it quite visually explicit, which is not the case with abortion. Still, even some doctors who opposed abortion agreed that it was better to save some fetuses than risk them all.

Through the early 1990s, the medical consensus was that reducing pregnancies of quadruplets or quintuplets clearly improved the health of the woman and her offspring. Doctors disagreed about whether to reduce those to triplets or twins and about whether to reduce triplet gestations at all. But as ultrasound equipment improved and doctors gained technical expertise, the procedure triggered fewer miscarriages, and many doctors concluded that reducing a triplet gestation to twins was safer than a triplet birth. Going below twins, though, was usually out of the question.

In 2004, however, Evans publicly reversed his stance, announcing in a major obstetrics journal that he now endorsed twin reductions. For one thing, as more women in their 40s and 50s became pregnant (often thanks to donor eggs), they pushed for two-to-one reductions for social reasons. Evans understood why these women didn’t want to be in their 60s worrying about two tempestuous teenagers or two college-tuition bills. He noted that many of the women were in second marriages, and while they wanted to create a child with their new spouse, they did not want two, especially if they had children from a previous marriage. Others had deferred child rearing for careers or education, or were single women tired of waiting for the right partner. Whatever the particulars, these patients concluded that they lacked the resources to deal with the chaos, stereophonic screaming and exhaustion of raising twins.

Evans’s new position wasn’t just a reaction to changing demographics. The calculus of risks had also changed. For one thing, he argued, in experienced hands like his, the procedure rarely prompted a miscarriage. For another, recent studies had revealed that the risks of twin pregnancies were greater than previously thought. They carried an increased chance of prematurity, low birth weight and cerebral palsy in the babies and gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia in the mother. Marking what he called a “juncture in the cultural evolution of human understanding of twins,” Evans concluded that “parents who choose to reduce twins to a singleton may have a higher likelihood of taking home a baby than pregnancies remaining with twins.” He became convinced that everyone carrying twins, through reproductive technology or not, should at least know that reduction was an option. “Ethics,” he said, “evolve with technology.”

“Ethics evolve with technology.” That single chilling quote says it all when it comes to the mindset of pro-aborts, doesn’t it? It’s sort of like the concept of a “living, breathing Constitution.” “Evolution” clearly is not always a good thing.

Many doctors, including some who do reduction to a singleton, dispute Evans’s conclusions, pointing out that while twin pregnancies carry more risks than singleton pregnancies, most twins (especially fraternal) do just fine. Dr. Richard Berkowitz, a perinatologist at Columbia University Medical Center who was an early practitioner of pregnancy reduction, says: “The overwhelming majority of women carrying twins are going to be able to deliver two healthy babies.” Though Berkowitz insists that there is no clear medical benefit to reducing below twins, he will do it at a patient’s request. “In a society where women can terminate a single pregnancy for any reason — financial, social, emotional — if we have a way to reduce a twin pregnancy with very little risk, isn’t it legitimate to offer that service to women with twins who want to reduce to a singleton?”

Indeed – and along with that goes with the ability to abort based on cosmetic reasons as well, such as the baby’s sex, race, whether or not it has any health issues and/or deformities, etc. Why, Designer Babies is a good thing in our “evoloving” society where “choice” is so celebrated by elites, is it not?

Moving right along:

Evans estimates that the majority of doctors who perform reductions will not go below twins. [Jane Doe] was pregnant with triplets when she discovered this for herself. After she and her husband tried for three years to get pregnant, they went to a fertility doctor near their home in Savannah, Ga. He put Jane, then 30, on fertility drugs, and when that didn’t work, he ramped things up with injections. By then, her husband, a 33-year-old Army officer, had been deployed to Iraq. He left behind three vials of sperm, and she was artificially inseminated. “You do weird things when mortars are flying at your husband’s head,” she said. She soon found out she was carrying triplets. Frantic, she yelled at the doctor: “This is not an option for us! I want only one!”

Her fertility specialist referred her to a doctor in Atlanta who did reductions. But when Jane called, the office manager told her that she would have to pay extra for temporary staff to assist with the procedure, because the regular staff refused to reduce pregnancies below twins. She contacted three more doctors, and in each case was told: not below two. “It was horrible,” she says. “I felt like the pregnancy was a monster, and I just wanted it out, but because we tried for so long, abortion wasn’t an option. My No. 1 priority was to be the best mom I could be, but how was I supposed to juggle two newborns or two screaming infants while my husband was away being shot at? We don’t have family just sitting around waiting to get called to help me with a baby.”

Eventually, she heard about Evans and flew to New York for the procedure. “I said, ‘You choose whoever is going to be safe and healthy,’ ” she says. “I didn’t give him any other criteria. I didn’t choose gender. None of that was up for grabs, because I had to make it as ethically O.K. for me as I could. But I wanted only one.”

She paid $6,500 for the reduction and left Evans’s office incredibly relieved. “I went out on that street with my mother and jumped up and down saying: ‘I’m pregnant! I’m pregnant!’ And then I went and bought baby clothes for the first time.”

Today, her daughter is 2½ years old. Jane intends to tell her about the reduction someday, to teach her that women have choices, even if they’re sometimes difficult. “I am the mother of a very demanding toddler,” she says. “I can’t imagine this times two, and not ever knowing if I’d have another person here to help me. This is what I can handle. I’m good with this. But that’s all.”

What Jane should tell her daughter when she’s of age to find out is how only some women have choices – those whose mothers decide to keep them, unlike Jane, who didn’t want to bother with the details of which two of her girl triplets were aborted because she supposedly wanted to make it as “ethical” as possible in her mind. In reality, she likely wanted to avoid direct responsiblity for making the decision as to which two of her developing, live babies were going to shrivel up and die inside her body by her doctor’s hand because of her “choice.” Doesn’t sound like she feels too guilty about it, does she?

And here I thought – per pro-aborts – that the decision to terminate the life inside your body was such an “agonizing” one.

Consider the choice of which fetus to eliminate: if both appear healthy (which is typical with twins), doctors aim for whichever one is easier to reach. If both are equally accessible, the decision of who lives and who dies is random. To the relief of patients, it’s the doctor who chooses — with one exception. If the fetuses are different sexes, some doctors ask the parents which one they want to keep.

Whew! Isn’t that a load off the mind? – knowing that you, who have decided that one is enough and that the other life growing inside your body is expendable – will not have to worry about little things like which life your doctor decides to take? It’s sort of like not wanting to look at the ultrasound, which is noted in the article in several places, including this one:

One of [Dr.] Stone’s patients, a New York woman, was certain that she wanted to reduce from twins to a singleton. Her husband yielded because she would be the one carrying the pregnancy and would stay at home to raise them. They came up with a compromise. “I asked not to see any of the ultrasounds,” he said. “I didn’t want to have that image, the image of two. I didn’t want to torture myself. And I didn’t go in for the procedure either, because less is more for me.” His wife was relieved that her husband remained in the waiting room; she, too, didn’t want to deal with his feelings.

Not wanting to make the “choice” as to which one lives or dies and/or not wanting to view the ultrasound makes a parent feel less responsible, less guilty for what they’ve advocated with their deadly decision.

It’s a way of avoiding the reality of the “choice” to abort a life growing inside of you or your s/o. “I won’t look at the ultrasound because I don’t want to have any second thoughts. I won’t make the decision as to which baby dies and which one lives because I don’t want the choice to make me reconsider my position” seems to be the operative mindset at play here. Disturbing.

That was the thinking of Dr. Naomi Bloomfield, an obstetrician near Albany who found out she was pregnant with twins when her first child was not quite a year old. “I couldn’t have imagined reducing twins for nonmedical reasons,” she said, “but I had an amnio and would have had an abortion if I found out that one of the babies had an anomaly, even if it wasn’t life-threatening. I didn’t want to raise a handicapped child. Some people would call that selfish, but I wouldn’t. Parents who abort for an anomaly just don’t want that life for themselves, and it’s their prerogative to fashion their lives how they want. Is terminating two to one really any different morally?

The indifference to human life in this piece is staggering – almost literally – to me,and I say that as someone who, again, has read/heard/watched a lot of information on this topic. Thank God none of our parents viewed us – twins or not – with the same cold, clinical detachment as these “mothers” (and most pro-aborts in general) viewed the pregnancy process. Once again, the “pro-choice” culture of death is exposed for what it is: bloodless, soulless – and most of all, heartless. Think about these vain, selfish people next time you read about a mother and father who eagerly wanted to carry a twin pregnancy to term but lost one at birth due to delivery issues or unexpected health complications. My heart goes out to them. To pro-twin reduction types, I have nothing but contempt. All you have to do is to look at an ultrasound of week 14 twins to understand why:

So beautiful. So active. And so alive.

Let’s hope Jenny and Jane don’t see this.

(NYT Magazine link courtesy of Jon P. Sanders.)

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