“Jenny’s decision to reduce twins to a single fetus was never really in doubt. The idea of managing two infants at this point in her life terrified her. She and her husband already had grade-school-age children, and she took pride in being a good mother. She felt that twins would soak up everything she had to give, leaving nothing for her older children. … Jenny desperately wanted another child, but not at the risk of becoming a second-rate parent. ‘This is bad, but it’s not anywhere as bad as neglecting your child or not giving everything you can to the children you have,’” Jenny was quoted as saying.
The essay recounts that while still somewhat ethically troublesome in the medical community and certainly more so — for now — in the population at large, “selective reductions” from twin pregnancies are on the rise in part because of the growing use of in-vitro fertilization, which often produces multiples. And more parents producing pregnancies on their own terms may be leading some to believe that life itself — theirs and their children’s — should be on their own terms, too. As Jenny put it, “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.”
I suppose this phenomenon is even less about the individual players involved than it is about a self-obsessed and, ironically, child-obsessed culture that in the very process of providing choices about life itself has minimized the awe we ought to have toward it.
Myself, I almost couldn’t finish the essay. I thought of my mother and my annoying older twin brothers. Two of my best friends now. I considered the four children born within 31/2 years to a young couple unprepared for those children in almost every way the world counts as significant. I felt her and my dad’s overwhelming love for us.
Most of all, I marveled at the sad irony of an increasingly sophisticated and advanced culture in which the gift of life itself is in some ways ever more precarious.