Minus One Pregnancies and Abortion -- One Twin Mom's Opinion
"My body, my choice."
Simple, isn't it? Pro-choice opinion with all of its reasoning and nuances wrapped up in a simple, catchy slogan. It makes it easy. I'm pro-choice. I believe that a woman's body is her domain and no one else has the right to tell her what she can and can't do with it.
But is it, perhaps, too easy? The problem with catch-phrases is that they remove the thought necessary to really form an educated opinion, so that when faced with the specifics of certain situations, people can then say, oh, yeah, but that, that's different. And they're never forced to re-examine their view. They separate situations, and still feel like they can say that they fully believe in one, without looking at the larger implications.
This article in the New York Times is what forced me to really think about this topic. Because if I were truly all about choice, then the concept of terminating one twin fetus and keeping the other one because parents only wanted one child would not squick me out.
But it does a little. I don't know if it's because I have twins, or what, and don't get me wrong, I'd never say to a woman having this done that she was wrong. I don't believe she is, intellectually speaking. But I can't help the distant rumble in my gut at the idea. Or, at least I couldn't without sitting down and really thinking about it, really thinking about my stance on abortion.
It's not the half-abortion, even, that bothers me so much. I think it's more the specific things this woman says, and the specific reasoning given in the article for why people would do this. But does that matter if it's a woman's body, a woman's choice? No. Her reasons don't matter, and the opinions are hers to have.
"She was 45 and pregnant after six years of fertility bills, ovulation injections, donor eggs and disappointment — and yet here she was, 14 weeks into her pregnancy, choosing to extinguish one of two healthy fetuses, almost as if having half an abortion."
My original reaction? Wait, so you tried to get pregnant for six years, using technology you knew would likely result in multiples and now you are going to terminate one of them? Why?
That reaction sucks. It doesn't matter. She wanted one kid and she can legally give herself one kid. It is not my place to say that because she'd been trying for a long period of time and using fertility treatments that she should have to have twins.
"“Things would have been different if we were 15 years younger or if we hadn’t had children already or if we were more financially secure,” she said later."
Okay, so at 45, she feels like she can't handle twins. And she feels like having other children means she doesn't need two more. And she feels that she doesn't have enough money for two, even though she had enough money for expensive fertility treatments. (Maybe they used up her disposable income.)
Fair enough. I don't necessarily agree or disagree with any of those things, but I'm not her. Her body, her choice. Which leads to the sad fact that she felt she had to try to rationalize it to the public at all. Decisions like this are not easily made clear to outsiders. She shouldn't have to justify her actions, and in doing so, she succeeds in giving off the opposite impression of what she is going for, at least to me. Because then she says this:
"“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 in 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.""
I...I don't like this. The logic is flawed, and she is insinuating that by creating her child through artificial means, it means less than if it were produced naturally. I'm sure many IVFers would disagree. A natural order of things? Does that mean the child that you continue to carry is unnatural in some way? Will you treat your natural children differently? I'm sorry, but this just sounds to me like she's making excuses. It almost sounds as if she's against abortion in general, doesn't it? Since "natural" pregnancies shouldn't be disturbed? She's holding herself and her decision apart from the main point. She feels she's a special case. And yes, in many ways she is. It's not often that women terminate one of a set of twins. But her guilt is being projected upon so many others who may have made a choice for different reasons. And it doesn't sit well. Because it's not half an abortion, after all. It is a full one. One she has every right to have. But in saying this, she implies that her specific conditions hold her above the other people making that choice.
It's your choice, lady. You don't have to rationalize it. Doing so only makes you look insecure and makes you accidentally insult a lot of people. You are no worse than the rest of society, and you are no better. You are just you and that is enough.
"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. Even the twins would be robbed, because, at best, she could give each one only half of her attention and, she feared, only half of her love."
I was terrified, too, and if she has other children, then she would know that love doesn't work that way. But again, as I thought and thought on this topic, I discovered it doesn't matter what reasons she gives. She's just trying to assuage society. And she doesn't need to. It's her body, her choice.
"“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,” she told me."
And there it is. Now she's not rationalizing to the readers so much as to herself. There's the issue right there. There's the reason for her other statements. This is a personal battle for her. Something we ought not forget when we speak on this topic as people who are not current going through it. Abortion can sometimes be chosen without doubt, but just as often, those who do choose it face many demons of their own making (and society's) along the way. It is hard. Hard as a philosophy and hard as a practice. I say we give everyone a break. Their body, their choice.
Reduction started so that women who had many fetuses could increase their chances of having a healthy child. Now that it's a surface choice, people are balking. Where is the ethical line? If you're pro-choice, are you really pro-choice? When does it turn? When is it too much?
"As science allows us to intervene more than ever at the beginning and the end of life, it outruns our ability to reach a new moral equilibrium. We still have to work out just how far we’re willing to go to construct the lives we want."
For me, reading this article was a really good start to try to define my true feelings on this complex issue.
Of course, there's one section that I can't argue with at all.
"Studies report enormous disruption in families with multiples, and higher levels of social isolation, exhaustion and depression in mothers of twins."
Yup. But, for me, they're totally worth it.