The boy and I were watching 60 minutes on the 20th of March– one of the stories focused on selective reduction (SR) and 3 womens’ experiences with this issue. For those not familiar with the subject matter selective reduction is where one or more foetuses is aborted during a multiple pregnancy. The foetuses are usually aborted in the first trimester by an injection of potassium chloride into the heart. I’d heard of this for medical reasons – pregnancies of triplets and up are pretty high risk, for the mother and the babies, so I knew in pregnancies such as these SR was often brought up by doctors. I wasn’t so familiar with doing this however for lifestyle reasons.
Now I consider myself Pro-Choice. However, both the boy and I found it quite disturbing to witness the actual needle go into the foetal heart and for it to stop moving. One of the women interviewed had fallen pregnant with triplets after receiving fertility treatment and for reasons including the desire to only have one child and to maintain her career/lifestyle she chose to have two of the foetuses aborted. I struggled with this while watching because if someone chooses to have fertility treatments or have multiple embryos implanted into their womb my initial reaction was that they should not then be aborting several of them. If you can’t handle the risk of two or three babies at once then don’t put that many embryos in. (Note: one of the women in the story had IUI which means you don’t have control over how many embryos get fertilised but it is a known risk of the treatment). Aborting healthy foetuses achieved through fertility treatments seems at odds. Being a person in a stable relationship who is approaching my childbearing years I also put myself in her shoes and the thought of aborting 2 healthy foetuses that the boy and I had created seemed like something I could not imagine doing. It’s easy to speculate though when I’m not actually the one in the position of having to make a choice.
On further reflection I have questions though – do I get to be pro-choice but put limitations on it? If I’m pro-choice do I have to support every choice? (Notwithstanding that obviously we do put limitations on how late a pregnancy can be terminated for anything other than medical reasons). I think the reason that I was initially against the mother who aborted two of her three foetuses for lifestyle reasons was because I figured that triplets generally have a pretty good chance of survival and having known people who had triplets, I saw it as tough but doable. If it was someone pregnant with 4 or more foetuses then I would not have been so quick to judge (although if it was through IVF I’d be judging the doctor’s decision for sure). In reality though having triplets is actually quite high risk. Plus I’m sure there are some women out there that know themselves and realise they would not be able to mentally cope with two or three babies at once. This brings me back to the IVF issue though – should you be implanting more than one embryo at all?
What if it was a third pregnancy and the couple already had two children. Having five children may mean a bigger house and increased finances are required which some parents are not in position to provide. Does the potential financial hardship and stress justify the choice?
Did I just find it disturbing because I actually saw a termination taking place on television and this coloured my opinion? Is SR really that different from any abortion that could take place for lifestyle reasons?
Splatters, what are your opinions on SR for lifestyle reasons and what questions does it bring up for you?