Pregnancy reduction

The New York Times ran an article yesterday about “pregnancy reduction”—The Two-Minus-One Pregnancy—whereby pregnancies with multiple foetuses are reduced to… fewer foetuses. Octuplets to triplets. Quintuplets to twins. And, increasingly (according to the article), twins to single foetuses.

The justification for eliminating some fetuses in a multiple pregnancy was always to increase a woman’s chance of bringing home a healthy baby, because medical risks rise with every fetus she carries. The procedure, which is usually performed around Week 12 of a pregnancy, involves a fatal injection of potassium chloride into the fetal chest. The dead fetus shrivels over time and remains in the womb until delivery. Some physicians found reduction unnerving, particularly because the procedure is viewed under ultrasound, making it quite visually explicit, which is not the case with abortion. Still, even some doctors who opposed abortion agreed that it was better to save some fetuses than risk them all.

From the comments on the NYT Facebook page, a fair number of people are pretty disgusted by the notion. A selection of the comments:

 I just love it when the New York Times calls premeditated murder “personal choice.”

 IT’s extremely disgusting and I am appalled that NY Times supports it….Speechless

Disgusting. Some people are infertile because they were not meant to have children. I thought Sophie’s Choice was bad…this is way worse.

Guess what?

I’m not disgusted. To me it seems obvious why it’s not some appalling invention (which has been around since the 1980s, btw). It’s abortion. It’s terminating unwanted pregnancies. We (most of us—however much it doesn’t seem that way sometimes; but let’s remember abortion is still legal) recognise that that’s okay to end a pregnancy. So let’s recognise that it’s okay to end a pregnancy!

What’s better? Carry all the foetuses to term, pick the best-looking/healthiest/which gender you prefer and stick the others in a children’s home? Right, because that’s moral(!) Or, finding that choice too difficult, keep all of them and struggle to make ends meet? Compromise your own parenting skills and the welfare of the children? 
It doesn’t look good, does it?

The option exists. We recognise that it’s okay to terminate foetuses. What’s the issue?

I have an answer for myself! The issue, some people will say, is that patients who have undergone fertility treatment (who are the primary users of pregnancy reduction, it seems, but by no means are they the exclusive users of it) know that there’s a risk of multiple foetus implantation and, therefore, have no right to reduce an IVF-assisted pregnancy.
Guess what?  
Every time i have sex i know there’s a risk of pregnancy. Does this mean i forego the right to have an abortion? Of course it doesn’t.

People will argue that people who seek fertility treatment are selfish. Given my position as a proponent of voluntary human extinction, i wouldn’t like to comment on that. But what i will say is that, whatever motives someone may have for seeking fertility treatment, whether you think fertility treatment is right or wrong, whatever circumstances may have occurred that resulted in a pregnancy—

the right to terminate a pregnancy does not go away.

And that’s all a reduction is. It’s a termination. It’s abortion. It’s okay.

Oh, and guess what? I’m a twin.

EDIT: But wait, there’s more!

 [R]ecent studies had revealed that the risks of twin pregnancies were greater than previously thought. They carried an increased chance of prematurity, low birth weight and cerebral palsy in the babies and gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia in the mother. 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.”

Yep. Totally agreed on this point.

So here’s some information some of you may be interested to learn (and some may already be aware): Not only am i a twin, but i used to be a triplet. My mother did not, to my knowledge, have a pregnancy reduction (and she would not be receptive to being asked, either); however, the fact is that there were three foetuses… and then there were two.
Nevertheless, i and my sister were born very early. Very early for 1989. (So early, in fact, at 27.5weeks, that abortion would still have been an option). 
And? Guess what? In addition to prematurity, we also had low birth weight (the two typically go together, right?) and i, special old me, also have cerebral palsy. 

You know what also comes with premature birth? DEATH.

Ain’t no two ways about it. Pregnancy reduction is just as permissible, just as right, as abortion. i.e., it is.