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In Vitro Fertilization and “Reduction”

In Vitro Fertilization and “Reduction”

Imagine longing for a child, yet being unable to conceive one naturally. Each month again, the evidence comes that you are, in fact, not pregnant, and the weight of that reality becomes harder and harder to bear as the months and years tick by.

Despite all the “reproductive rights” and “women’s liberty” talk, the fact remains that more than 90% of adults have, plan to have, or would like to have children. When realizing this dream does not seem possible naturally, many individuals and couples can now turn to the miraculous technology of in vitro fertilization (IVF).

IVF does not come without significant expense and invasive treatment, but the goal of a baby is considered well worth the physical, financial, and emotional investment. The tragic irony is that IVF is, all too often, too successful, and a pregnancy of unwanted multiples results. Such multiple pregnancies carry significant health risks, due to limited space in the womb and the likelihood of premature delivery which comes with associated long-term health risks for the children.

The solution? Eliminate some of those “extra” babies before they are born.

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This leads to the tragedy of “selective reduction”, as it is euphemistically called in IVF. While this can be justified as caring for some at the cost of the others, it essentially comes down to caring for none. If, as a born child, you know your parents were willing to eliminate your siblings at random, or perhaps based on their sex or potential disability, you recognize that your own value is not inherent, but due only to your placement in the womb or ability to gain an extra ounce or two over your siblings in the first 3 months of gestation.

Certainly for many parents this is by no means an easy decision, and many feel guilt or conflicting emotions when they hold and fall in love with those they allowed to live. Parents recognize the randomness of the choice they made, and recall the beating hearts they witnessed before they were stopped by lethal injection. Yet, like the doctor quoted in the Washington Post who has “developed his ethics” as his practice developed, and is now comfortable helping couples achieve what is considered the “perfect family” of one boy and one girl, so also many others seem willing to let their moral compass be directed by their current desires and the available options.

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Selective reduction is considered by some to be different from abortion, as it does not technically end the pregnancy. Indeed, the terminated baby is not forcibly removed from the womb – that would pose too much danger to the child(ren) being left behind. The hearts of the selected babies are generally stopped with an injection of potassium chloride guided by ultrasound, then they are left in the womb for the duration of the pregnancy.

But reduction is no different from other abortions in its callous devaluing of human life. In fact, to go to such great lengths to create life, and then deliberately end it, is a form of playing God above and beyond even that of standard abortions.

Even those who support abortion should recognize the unique tragedy of calculatingly creating children only to kill them. Prenatal genetic testing and manipulation continue at astonishing speed unmatched by government policies and regulations. Reductions following fertility treatments are just another way we and our medical system attempt to maintain God-like control over our bodies, our children, and our society. Perfection is expected, and those at risk of being less than our ideal are eliminated with a shot to the heart. Easy, quiet, and until someone dares stand up, no one really needs to know.

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