Two is Too Many?
To the already charged field of reproductive health comes the news, via a NY Times Magazine article, that there is a growing trend in "pregnancy reduction" among women expecting twins.
According to the article, more and more women who undergo fertility treatments and are then faced with the possibility of twins, opt for a procedure where twins are reduced to a singleton. Pregnancy reduction usually involves cases where carrying multiple fetuses to term would cause harm to one or all of the babies. The rise of twin reductions has some worried that ethical boundaries are being crossed, perhaps too fast.
Many factors, including finances, the age of the mother and even the added stress twins place on a marriage, are considered by the women who opt for reduction to singletons. But, in the context of seeking IVF treatments and postponing pregnancy to ages where even single pregnancies carry increased risks, what are the ethical and moral implications of twin reductions?
Judging by the comments accompanying the article, this is not a clear cut proposition. Should women who postponed pregnancy in order to build a solid foundation to raise their children in be penalized for trying to make sound decisions? What does it say about our society, where children languish in foster care for years, that if you are wealthy enough, you can choose to have multiple pregnancies and then 'reduce' them to a more convenient, manageable and (perhaps) healthier singleton?
It can be easy to pass judgment, but the secrecy surrounding women who choose twin reduction suggests that, as a society, we are still a long way from reconciling our scientific might with what we might find morally acceptable. There are many well-documented risks for both babies and mothers in multiple pregnancies and the doctors who perform twin reductions do so in the tradition of trying to increase the chance "of bringing home a healthy baby". Except that in some cases of twin reductions, both fetuses are equally healthy and the elimination of one may be dependent more on factors like how many children are already in the family, whether this is a first or second marriage or even the gender of the twin.Continued on the next page