The New York Times (as reported in National Review) ran a story on mothers of twins who decided to abort one baby and keep the other child. Here is a direct quote from one mother, who conceived after six years of fertility treatment, “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 inside 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.”
A baby, any baby or fetus on either side of a journey through the birth canal is utterly dependent for their very life on oxygen, nutrition, warmth and protection provided by the parent(s). The timing of the decision about when or if to love this child currently determines the baby’s fate. When the sperm and egg unite, in that instant of unique genetic fusion, the child is defined in many, many aspects, from gender to ethnicity to the color of her eyes. What follows for the rest of her life is development, some of it just happens to be inside the mother’s womb. The demarcation line crossed from potential human to fully human takes place at her conception, not on her brief trip from womb to breast.
We can have reasonable discussions about moral truths among people of good faith, even about one with such an unbridgeable gap as abortion. I have had these discussions with those who truly deny the humanity of the human fetus and value the “rights” of the mother as displacing utterly those of the child. In a spirit of full disclosure, I see this rejection of science and history as akin to flat earthers, 9/11 truthers and holocaust deniers. These denials, to me, are ignorance, either blinded by cultural indoctrination, ideological commitment or deliberate by perceived necessity, but ignorance nonetheless.
Let me suggest an alternative worldview to the mother of the former twins, or rather let the poet, Galway Kinnell, describe it from his work, “After Making Love We Hear Footsteps” (Link to full poem: After Making Love We Hear Footsteps– back arrow to return to this post).
– as now, we lie together,
after making love, quiet, touching along the length of
familiar touch of the long-married,
and he appears—in his baseball pajamas, it happens,..
and flops down between us and hugs us and snuggles
himself to sleep,
his face gleaming with satisfaction at being this very
In the half darkness we look at each other
and touch arms across his little, startlingly muscled
this one whom habit of memory propels to the ground
of his making,
sleeper only the mortal sounds can sing awake,
this blessing loves gives again into our arms.
We can disagree reasonably (or unreasonably) about what abortion is and does, but I cannot envision thinking and honest persons who believe that, “If I had conceived these twins naturally, I wouldn’t have reduced this pregnancy…The pregnancy was all so consumerish to begin with” is not a step towards the abyss, and that this reduction does not diminish us all.
Ezekiel 12:1: They have ears to see, but do not see, and ears to hear, but do not hear.