Thursday, August 11, 2011

Selectively killing a twin

The New York Times Magazine has a long story on selective reduction, specifically the reduction of twins to a single child by killing one of the twins. It is really quite disturbing.
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. 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."
Jenny was even turned down by two doctors who refused to selectively reduce one of her 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.

In response to this mother's decision to kill one of her twins, Robin Marty shows a crack in the pro-choice armor.
If she had gotten pregnant on her own, she would have been willing to keep both twins, but since it was already "so consumerish" she didn't feel like the same "rules" applied? I find it hard to wrap my head around the idea that someone would abort a twin just because of the way the pregnancy was conceived. If you feel that it was somehow part of the "natural order" for twins without intervention, why would medical assistance change that mindset?

As Marty's commenters point out, if you accept the "Trust Women" mantra then you can't judge any reproductive health decision even the women who callously decides to abort via selective reduction because she's embracing her consumerish desires.

1 comment:

  1. It's horrifying and facinating how they view it as "almost having half an abortion." It's not. It is a whole abortion.

    This does lay out more clearly, I suppose, how defining the term abortion as "ending/terminating a pregnancy" is inaccurate, since she is undergoing one and yet will still remain pregnant afterwards.