Restoring Meaning to “Selective Reduction”

Author Amy K. Hall Published on 03/06/2012

This article is disturbing. And that’s why you should read it. The euphemism “selective reduction” will become more and more common (see here and here), so let us not forget what it’s referring to:

[O]f the three embryos that were implanted, all three took. We were faced with the news of triplets. I was shocked, knowing the burden that would entail, but since G-d gave us three, I was prepared to do whatever I needed to do to help, manage, and provide.

My wife? Something snapped. She insisted that we do a “selective reduction” from three to one, or else she would have a full abortion. She was adamant. She would not carry three. She would not carry two.

I was presented with a Coventry-esque decision: save one, or save none. I chose the former, though I tried on several occasions to convince her to at least keep twins. I failed...My mantra became “Save one, or save none.”

Before the procedure, my wife’s eyes teared up; she asked the doctor over and over if they would feel pain, and was assured they would not. I asked again if my wife was sure about this because once done, it could not be undone. She said she was sure, but her tears and her looking away from the screen, deliberately, and her wanting me to not look either, told me the truth: she knew as well that this was wrong...

My wife didn’t look, but I had to. I had to know what would happen to my children. I had to know how they would die.

Each retreated, pushing away, as the needle entered the amniotic sac. They did not inject into the placenta, but directly into each child’s torso. Each one crumpled as the needle pierced the body. I saw the heart stop in the first, and mine almost did, too. The other’s heart fought, but ten minutes later they looked again, and it too had ceased...

[T]hat emotional scar will ache my whole life. I see my child’s smile every night and anticipate a new one in some months...but I think of the two smiles I will never see. Every day, returning from work, I hear “Hi Daddy!” and know there are two voices and two giggles that I will never hear. I play with and cuddle my child, looking forward to the same with the second...but I know there are two sets of hands that will never touch mine, two sets of toes that will never be counted, two hugs that will forever be absent from my arms.

This is what the dehumanization of the youngest members of our human race leads to. As the author notes, euphemisms ease guilt and make it possible to rationalize such decisions for the sake of easing the difficulties of parenthood. But in the end, which is truly easier: raising triplets, or dealing with this knowledge for the rest of your life?

I urge you to read the full article and pass it on.

(HT: Joe Carter)