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.
8 responses to “Reduction”
I read the article in the Times and was struck by the sadness of it all. You can just imagine the anxiety, heartache and earnestness of a couple frantically taking matters into their own hands. Turning to science. Nature (or God) be damned… we are going to make this happen. ‘Reduction’ is, as the woman in the article implies, a logical progression from the frenzy of creating children as a commodity.
Contrast this with the beautiful, gentle sensibility of the Kinnell poem. It is so evocative. It reminds me of the miracle of my own children. The utter wonder of sitting in a meeting at work the morning after a tender night with my husband, realizing right then and there that I was pregnant. Yes, I knew, even as we were making love, that it was going to bear fruit. Something about that night was so… different. So Holy. I can’t explain it.
And as I read this article in the NY Times, it is so fascinating and pathetic to watch the author struggle with the reality that abortion is more than just a ‘reduction’ and yet, she is so blinded by her cultural bias she can’t face what is right before her eyes.
After reading the article I was so angry and sad I couldn’t even begin to write coherently about it. I am grateful that you could. Thank you.
Yes, once we reduce life to a commodity, there is a huge ripple effect on the culture at large. We are seeing more riots even here in America… Where does this anger and disrespect for life and property come from?
I remember reading about a Nazi war criminal, who, now standing before the judge who was about to sentance him for war crimes agains humanity, hung his head and asked “How did we come to this?” The judge replied, “It happened when you took the first innocent human life.”
Here in America we’ve taken the innocent lives of over 50 million preborn babies. It’s a tragedy of epic proportions and is often referred to as the Silent Holocaust. Thank you Rachel for your beautiful response. So many women have been hurt by their decisions to abort, in a culture that makes it seem like a simple medical proceedure. We don’t have the huge piles of shoes and clothing that was evident in the Nazi concentration camps, but we’ve killed many, many, more innocent human beings than occured in the Nazi concentration camps and it’s “legal”…just as it was made “legal” in Germany at the time.
And people wonder why we are having a cirsis with Social Security??
Thank you again Rachel for your beautiful post.
As someone who’s life has been impacted by abortion I can speak first hand that the decision they make, althought at the time seems to make sense (somehow) , will affect them the rest of their lives.
The “what if” question which will haunt those with a moral compass once time has passed and you have time to reflect. I try not to pass judgement upon those who have been faced with this decision. I believe it is with the knowledge of life’s experiences provide that allow you to know the correct path.
You can only hope to provide those who face the decision the wisdom of your experience.
Thanks for sharing that with us Uncle Greg. We love you guys and believe me, I never judge somone who has made that decision. The law teaches and when the law says something is OK, we tend to be led to think it will be OK for us in the long term. Just remember, you have a beautiful little one in heaven that you can pray to and ask for their intercession. God is good and merciful.
Greg, it is true that the decision will often haunt people, often for decades. I am the director of a Pregnancy Resource Center, which offers support to women and men who are facing unplanned pregnancies. One of the services we offer is post abortion support. We have clients who have been suffering for YEARS come to us to find healing.
Given that there have been over 50 million abortions in the US since 1973, it is rare indeed to find someone who hasn’t been personally impacted in one way or another. For those of us who have not experienced it ourselves, we have lost siblings, nieces or nephews, and on and on. Few of us are unscathed.
Every day, we see the fallout from this decision on women (and men.) Several of our staff are post abortive themselves… so when they talk with women who are in the midst of facing the decision of what to do about an unplanned pregnancy, they have first hand knowledge of the impact that abortion has on one’s life.
The women in the NY Times article are still very early in their process. The truth of what they have done may not surface for years to come.
In one sense, the mother that you quoted in your first paragraph is right: If we treat a person as a means to our own personal satisfaction, who only has value insofar as he or she functions perfectly or fulfills our own so-called “right” to a child, it is logical that we should treat a child this way before, during and after his conception. This “reduction” as she calls it, is a very logical action. The problem is that we are not talking about a thing, but a human person. The human person should never be used as a means to an end, but rather should always be treated an end in itself because the person has absolute worth or dignity which cannot be compared to anything else. Each person is thus also unique and irreplaceable. “His face gleaming with satisfaction at being this very child”—beautiful. Children naturally grasp the fact that they and consequently, each and every human person, have absolute value. Many evils have resulted from ignoring these simple truths.
Canada: Mother Who Killed Baby Gets No Jail Time
CANADIAN MOTHER STRANGLES NEWBORN, GETS NO JAIL TIME
In citing Canada’s abortion laws, an Edmonton appeal court ruled that an Alberta woman who strangled her son with her underwear after secretly giving birth in 2005, will face no guaranteed jail time.Katrina Effert was sentenced Friday for killing her newborn and then throwing the body over a fence into the neighbor’s yard on April 13, 2005, when she was 19. She was given a three-year suspended sentence by Judge Joanne Veit wherein if she abides by the court’s conditions for the next three years, she will not spend time behind bars.
“How did we come to this?” The judge replied, “It happened when you took the first innocent human life.”
As we continue to turn our backs on thousands of years of Judeo/Christian principles and tradition, we open ourselves to this kind of barbarism. Unfortunately, this isn’t an isolated incident. It’s happening more and more often. It is the direct legacy of legalized abortion.
God help us…
The abyss has been visible for a long time like driving towards the Snake River deep valley across the flats of Idaho; tragically, this incident of infanticide may portend our future. Many have seen it coming for a long time. Peter Singer, once the bioethical advisor to the Clinton administration and who remains the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, wrote this in 1979, ““Human babies are not born self-aware, or capable of grasping that they exist over time. They are not persons”; therefore, “the life of a newborn is of less value than the life of a pig, a dog, or a chimpanzee.” Dr. Singer, one of the founders of the animal rights movement, has long held that a parent (or doctor) should be able to dispatch a disabled child without consequences within the first 30 days of her life. Brave New World, indeed. At the risk of mixing metaphors, the clichéd ‘slippery slope’ is under our feet. j