We were sitting each on our preferred couches in our living room while Lance was reading and he said, “What’s selective reduction”? I knew exactly what he was talking about. Do you what that term means? It’s an abortion by a different name. When it’s one baby, they call it an abortion. When you are pregnant with multiples and abort a baby or a few of the babies, it’s called selective reduction. Yes, selective as in you are choosing which or how many of your babies to abort.
Below is an excerpt from a feminist and reproductive rights activist named Amy Richards. This is extracted from her 2004 Op-Ed piece that she wrote for the New York Times.
Amy had an unplanned pregnancy at 19 and had an abortion and then at 33 while trying to become pregnant, without the use of drugs, she became pregnant with triplets. This is a piece of what she wrote on choosing to abort some of her babies via the euphemistic name, selective reduction.
My immediate response was, I cannot have triplets. I was not married; I lived in a five-story walk-up in the East Village; I worked freelance; and I would have to go on bed rest in March. I lecture at colleges, and my biggest months are March and April. I would have to give up my main income for the rest of the year. There was a part of me that was sure I could work around that. But it was a matter of, Do I want to? I looked at Peter and asked the doctor: “Is it possible to get rid of one of them? Or two of them?” The obstetrician wasn’t an expert in selective reduction, but she knew that with a shot of potassium chloride you could eliminate one or more.
Having felt physically fine up to this point, I got on the subway afterward, and all of a sudden, I felt Ill. I didn’t want to eat anything. What I was going through seemed like a very unnatural experience. On the subway, Peter asked, “Shouldn’t we consider having triplets?” And I had this adverse reaction: “This is why they say it’s the woman’s choice, because you think I could just carry triplets. That’s easy for you to say, but I’d have to give up my life.” Not only would I have to be on bed rest at 20 weeks, I wouldn’t be able to fly after 15. I was already at eight weeks. When I found out about the triplets, I felt like: It’s not the back of a pickup at 16, but now I’m going to have to move to Staten Island. I’ll never leave my house because I’ll have to care for these children. I’ll have to start shopping only at Costco and buying big jars of mayonnaise. Even in my moments of thinking about having three, I don’t think that deep down I was ever considering it.
When we saw the specialist, we found out that I was carrying identical twins and a stand alone. My doctors thought the stand alone was three days older. There was something psychologically comforting about that, since I wanted to have just one. Before the procedure, I was focused on relaxing. But Peter was staring at the sonogram screen thinking: Oh, my gosh, there are three heartbeats. I can’t believe we’re about to make two disappear. The doctor came in, and then Peter was asked to leave. I said, “Can Peter stay?” The doctor said no. I know Peter was offended by that.
Two days after the procedure, smells no longer set me off and I no longer wanted to eat nothing but sour-apple gum. I went on to have a pretty seamless pregnancy. But I had a recurring feeling that this was going to come back and haunt me. Was I going to have a still birth or miscarry late in my pregnancy? I had a boy, and everything is fine. But thinking about becoming pregnant again is terrifying. Am I going to have quintuplets? I would do the same thing if I had triplets again, but if I had twins, I would probably have twins. Then again, I don’t know.
It’s hard for me to believe that this woman could ever look at the baby she chose to have and not think of the other two but she is so frank and comfortable with her decision that maybe she doesn’t. I believe they were never more than blips on a sonogram machine to her. It’s very hard for me to swallow and I have lots of thoughts that come rushing at me when I read this.
What about the son? Will he always wonder about the siblings he had that he never got to meet? Almost like an adopted child who knows they have biological siblings somewhere: Would they have looked like me? Talked like me? What would my life have been like with them here? I feel like when that child grows up that they will have to ask these questions.
Then, I’m struck with the selfishness of the decision, not only and ultimately for the babies, but in regards to Peter also. They were trying to have children together. He obviously wasn’t sure of the decision. “Shouldn’t we consider having the triplets?”, he said. And when the procedure time came in her own words she said, “He stared at the sonogram screen at three heartbeats and said, “I can’t believe we are about to make two of those disappear.” Just because a father doesn’t carry the child, they are equal partners and they BOTH wanted and TRIED to have these babies. Does he not have a say as to whether or not his partner intentionally takes two of their lives? I could never imagine being in her shoes in general but I could never imagine being pregnant, considering aborting a child, and not considering my husband’s/partner’s wishes to have ALL of our children. There is SO much selfishness in thinking we are entitled to do whatever we want as long as it serves us.
Since when is being pregnant and raising children EVER the convenient option? I heard a friend once say that someone told her when trying for a child, “Make sure that you aren’t just ready to have a baby, but that you are ready to have ANY kind of baby.” Those words are extremely wise. Everyone thinks they will have one baby, no complications. You will largely remain unchanged and you will have a healthy normal child with no disabilities and they will grow up, move out, and have their own family. Not always true, people. When you choose to get pregnant, you are assuming any number of possibilities both from how many you will have at once and what capacities the child will have and how that will effect your life. Unless you are prepared to be responsible for all options and numbers and committed to them, by all means, don’t get pregnant. If you think carrying a child or children and raising them while they are small is a burden, trust me, to you, they will be.
Lastly, I’m bothered by her comments that:
She would have to move to Staten Island, never be able to leave the house because she would have to “care for these kids” and she would only be able to shop at Costco and would have to buy big jars of mayonnaise. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard someone talk so flippantly about motherhood or discuss it as such collateral damage. We are talking about babies here. These are people! Your people, for that matter, made of you that YOU wanted to conceive. They are not burdens. They are not sentences. They are blessings. When she talks about these babies, she is completely detached.
Yes, children do inconvenient things. They color on your walls. They get you up at 3 a.m. and, heaven forbid, they make you buy more food and dare I say, even large jars of mayonnaise! Any person that thinks these momentary life adjustments are burden enough to knock a few babies off, should not be a mother. If you prize your life so greatly above the honor of raising another human being that shopping at Costco is your greatest concern, why should you ever parent even one child?!
This life is not about living every dream as seamlessly as you planned to the glory of yourself all so it can end up in some dumb scrapbook, magazine article, internet sensation that won’t be known about in 2 generations after your death. Living a life only for yourself to see the world, do what you want, when you want, how you want, sounds more like the wishes of the spoiled than a wise adult.
Anything that is of any value will cost you something and I’m sure the career this mother has had an activist has cost her something. However, that isn’t a burden because it was worth it to her. If anything about children seems not worth it to you, don’t ever be a mother because it is a hard job and you can’t live for yourself. Who really wants to live for themselves? I can’t even wrap my mind around it. I can’t think of much more shallow way to live than only considering your greatest desires and needs above anyone…even the father of your kids who is questioning you taking the life of his children.
Anyone who has ever been a mother knows that there is no greater joy than raising a child. Even a mother who has raised a child through tragedy, through unplanned situations, through struggle….a mother loves that she raised life and she adores, protects, and defends that life. Mothers would do it all again if need be and would never say, “Sweet child, you were a burden to me.”
We can’t do that. Love prevents sacrifice from feeling like surrender. We were the lucky ones to leave a job we loved to stay at home with them or to go work to make ends meet so that are children wouldn’t do without.
Children in our society have come to be seen as hindrances. Children “cost too much”. They demand too much of our time and require too much self sacrifice of time, sleep, and money that, believe me, none of us could find a better way to spend anyways than raising children.
Life beating in the wombs of any of us is a miracle. I can’t wrap my mind around calling myself a mother and deciding how many and which of the kids in my womb get to be born because of how much easier it would be for me if they just weren’t all here.
God forgive our culture that when You say children are a blessing, that we say, “Yeah, well that depends on what I’ll have to do for their sake.”
Come, Lord Jesus.