Posts Tagged ‘ New York Times ’

The Half Abortion: Only Keeping One Twin

Sunday, August 14th, 2011

Eight months.

In today’s publication of the New York Times, there is an article entitled The Two-Minus-One Pregnancy. It tells of the growing number of women who are pregnant with twins and choose to abort only one of the fetuses, and allowing the other to survive.  In other words, these women are having a “half abortion.”

According to the article, New York’s Mount Sinai Medical Center performed 101 abortions last year; 38 of those pregnancy terminations involved a mother pregnant with twins who decided to only abort one unborn child.  And that’s just one medical center in the entire country.

One mother who used fertility drugs to get pregnant, then aborted only one fetus, gives her reasoning for the decision:

“If I had conceived these twins naturally, I wouldn’t have reduced this pregnancy, because you feel like if there’s a natural order, then you don’t want to disturb it. But we created this child in such an artificial manner — in a test tube, choosing an egg donor, having the embryo placed in me — and somehow, making a decision about how many to carry seemed to be just another choice. The pregnancy was all so consumerish to begin with, and this became yet another thing we could control.”

What is it about the idea of a half abortion that somehow seems more difficult to grasp than a “normal” abortion?  The immediate thing that comes to mind is that it is an ultimate case of “playing God.” As if a “normal” abortion wasn’t already giving one person the authority to choose another human being’s ability to live, a half abortion gives a person the ability to decide which unborn child deserves to live and which one deserves to die. That’s playing God, times two.

Is there any justification for a half abortion? The article in the New York Times gives several examples of why women made their decision:

1. The mother was 45 years old and already had children.  She felt financially insecure, as well as, too old to have twins.

2. The mother was known as a “good parent,” highly devoted to her children.  Pregnant with twins, she decided she couldn’t be equally devoted to two more; just one.

3. The mother already had a son. Then she got pregnant with twins; a boy and a girl.  She chose to keep the girl.

4. Many of these mothers were in their 2nd marriage and already have kids from their previous marriages.  Twins would have been too complicated, compared to only one more addition to the family.

5.  Some were single mothers.

6. Some mothers did not want to jeopardize their education.

7. Some did not want to jeopardize their careers.

8. One woman’s husband was an officer in the Army, fighting in Iraq. They already had a few kids.  Twins were too much a risk if something happened to her husband.

For those of us unfamiliar with the idea of a half abortion until today, we now make a decision in our own minds of whether it is ethically justifiable or wrong. The fact that The New York Times is doing a story about it says something in and of itself: This is not your typical “gray area” moral dilemma.

This isn’t a discussion about whether abortion is right or wrong, in general.  Honestly, “pro-choice vs. pro-life” debates bore me. Polls show that our nation is split 50/50 on abortion.  Most of us have already made up our minds on the issue and the truth is, we are not going to convince each other otherwise via comments on a blog post; especially if we ourselves play God by judging other people’s character and life decisions.

I hope it is clear that I am not asking anyone to cast stones, but instead to think with an open mind about a tough issue that has some undeniable ethical questions surrounding it. I enjoy mature, mutually respectable, deep conversations. Therefore, I’m curious to know how other people feel about the “two minus one pregnancy.”  What ethical issues does the half abortion raise?

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