Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ruth Padawer on The Two-Minus-One Pregnancy in The New York Times Magazine

Selectively aborting all but one fetus in a multiple pregnancy. Is this wrong? Answer: If abortion is not wrong, then this is not wrong. Nor is female-specific abortion wrong, as happens in Asian countries nowadays. Nor will abortion to eliminate fetuses of a particular sexual orientation be wrong, once that becomes possible. "Without God, everything is possible", as Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote.

Ms. Padawer has included a few tear-jerking stories of women wrestling with this difficult choice. (Though she does refer to a doctor receiving calls from a stream of women who don't seem to find it so difficult at all.) The article is not as disgusting as the one last time the NYTM discussed selective abortion. That piece, by abortion rights activist Amy Richards as told to reporter Amy Barrett, was appalling in its callousness. A no-longer young woman, still doing the co-habitation thing with a boyfriend, becomes pregnant with twins and a stand-alone. There's nothing wrong with them, although she alarms herself with the possibility that something "might" happen. The stairs are steep, the city is expensive, and she, like, reeeeally doesn't want to give up her urban hipster lifestyle, and go live in the icky-poo suburbs. So, death for the unborn twins it is.

I am appreciative that these procedures exist, and have become as safe as they are. I know that not every woman who aborts is just a selfish flibbertigibbet. I also acknowledge that this is one of the mercifully few issues where our ideals of liberty and morality are in direct conflict. So, it seems, with this medical advance we've crossed another Rubicon:

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.”

One might also argue for the existence of an inverse relationship between the progress of the two.