Convenience and Reducing a Pregnancy

Abortion, Bioethics, Culture, Family Issues, Featured, Moral Philosophy, Philosophy, Reproductive Technologies — By on August 19, 2011 at 9:48 am

I stand resolute on my position on abortion: I do not believe abortion is a viable option. The sanctity of the life of the child is tantamount to making any health-related decision. There may be extreme cases where there is a certainty that a pregnancy will lead to the death of both the child and the mother (though I express my reservations about the possibility of ‘certainty’ in this situation). But the primary push ought to be for life itself.

But someone recently linked to this article. The procedure was one I had not heard of, and I read through the article wincing nearly the entire time. For those who do not want to read the whole article, the short of it is this: in the case of multiple-pregnancy (i.e., twins, triplets, or more), there is a medical procedure where a doctor may end the life of one or more of the fetuses, while saving the rest. The origination of this action stems from dangerous pregnancies: when giving birth to a higher quantity of children, there are increased chances of complications, which could result in death of either the babies or the mother. If a woman was pregnant with enough children, doctors were willing to reduce a pregnancy down to triplets and, in some cases, twins. Many times women who choose to get a reduction are those who have become pregnant via in-vitro fertilization, which has a higher chance of multiple-child pregnancies than natural conception.

Recently, some doctors have begun reducing pregnancies from twins to a single child. The ethical questions here abound: are we still trying to save a life, or are we now just doing this as a matter of convenience? The majority of the stories recounted in the article lend weight to the latter; if having twins or triplets proved to be more than the couple initially planned on, then the question of reducing a pregnancy, while still difficult, is one that boils down to the perceived quality of life in the parents in the years to come. One couple recounted visiting a couple who had twins, seeing their exhaustion, and then expressing gratitude that they were only having one child. They then found out they were having twins, and struggled with the decision to reduce the pregnancy.

This convenience, this dream of having complete control over our lives and rejecting all that gets in the way, is something that demonstrates a problem in how we think and live. Being a parent is something that reshapes your life, dramatically. This is true whether you have one child or five. Ending a life will change your life as well; even the doctors who perform the procedure have been known to try to explain the potential complications of pregnancies with twins to help soften the guilt felt by those who are reducing a twin pregnancy to a single child.

Ending a life should never be the first option, certainly. And only in the gravest of circumstances, such as the extreme likelihood of losing the lives of all involved, should such a procedure ever even be considered.

image via flickr


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