The Crisis of Pregnancy Reduction

“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?”

This has haunted me since I read it over a month ago. The quote came from an article in The New York Times Magazine on August 10. The article chronicled the troubling trend of pregnancy reduction in twin pregnancies. Pregnancy reduction, a sterilized euphemism for abortion, is not uncommon in multiple pregnancies, but when a couple decides to reduce from a twin to a singleton some in the medical community begin to draw the line.

The article presents the situation as a mere choice for these parents. Children, after all, are a commodity that many spend thousands to conceive, but when they get more than they bargain for the lines become blurred. If the children in utero are shown to be a consumer good, rather than a precious life, then the choice seems a lot easier.

But is it?

Choices have consequences, sometimes lifelong ones. For the families who choose one baby over the other, the lifelong memory of the child that could have been most likely never dissipates.
But what haunted me the most as I read this article was the rationale for aborting these children, and so many others, is founded in the belief that we are autonomous beings in control of our own destiny. We have the right to dictate how our life plays out, and when it takes an unexpected turn (like a multiples pregnancy or a baby with Down’s syndrome) we take the necessary measures to adjust our lives to our liking.

As much as we want to make our lives fit neatly into a perfectly square box, it won’t. Life is fluid. It changes. It is flawed and broken. And we don’t really have a choice in the way it unfolds sometimes. We are not God, and the more we try and play his role the farther into darkness we will descend.

This article messed me up when I read it. Maybe it’s because as I read the article I kept thinking “but I would take your baby! I would love your baby that you don’t want!” Or maybe it’s because in the back of my mind I saw a little piece of myself in the stories of the women presented. Yes, I would never abort my baby even if I had a multiples pregnancy or my baby had an abnormality. But I do try to play God in the little things in my life. I try to control every aspect of my fertility so I can at least think I have a shot at getting pregnant again.

But I’m not God either. And he knows my story and the details of my life just as much as he does the lives of the women who think they are controlling their own universe. More importantly, he knows the names of those precious unwanted babies, discarded as medical waste on the altar of their parents’ desire for freedom and comfort.

To all of this heartbreak we say, Maranatha, come quickly, Lord Jesus.