I hope to take the time to write more about this in the next few days, but for now I simply want to draw your attention to an article from the New York Times magazine about “pregnancy reductions.” The article (The Two Minus One Pregnancy) describes the increasingly popular decision to “reduce” an unexpected pregnancy of twins from two babies to one. Ruth Padawer begins her treatment of this subject with a story:
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.
She goes on to describe a variety of parents making similar choices, and she explains which doctors are willing to perform “reductions” as well. Though she doesn’t argue in favor or against the procedure, she certainly allows the stories to unveil the many ethical issues at stake. My friend Ellen Painter Dollar has written a few posts over at Choices That Matter about this essay (A Troubling Cascade of Choices and More on the Two Minus One Pregnancy), and Ellen quotes William Saletan of Slate Magazine, who writes:
Saletan notes that, “A fetus you want is a baby; a fetus you don’t want is a pregnancy.” He goes on:
Reduction destroys this distinction. 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…That’s the anguish of reduction: watching the fetus you spared become what its twin will never be. And knowing that the only difference between them was your will.
For me, this article laid bare all of my objections to abortion in general, and it raised my concerns about in vitro fertilization yet again (in the article, all the women who undergo “reductions” have used IVF to conceive). I commend the article to you, and for now I’ll just pose two questions–
If you are pro-choice, do you think that women should always have a choice or only under certain circumstances?
Does IVF necessarily lead to the commodification of life and therefore procedures such as pregnancy reduction?