August 18, 2011

"What is it about terminating half a twin pregnancy that seems more controversial than reducing triplets to twins or aborting a single fetus?"

"After all, the math’s the same either way: one fewer fetus. Perhaps it’s because twin reduction (unlike abortion) involves selecting one fetus over another, when either one is equally wanted. Perhaps it’s our culture’s idealized notion of twins as lifelong soul mates, two halves of one whole. Or perhaps it’s because the desire for more choices conflicts with our discomfort about meddling with ever more aspects of reproduction."

This is a long article in the NYT, directed, I think, at readers who support abortion rights generally, but are susceptible to moral doubts about some uses of abortion. I suspect that for those who believe abortion is always immoral — or acceptable only to save the mother from death or severe bodily harm — the destruction of the twin is like every other abortion, and the moral qualms abortion supporters feel is a kind of half-awakening to a problem they should be seeing all the time.

Here's one story:

Shelby Van Voris... and her husband tried for three years to get pregnant, they went to a fertility doctor near their home in Savannah, Ga.... She soon found out she was carrying triplets. Frantic, she yelled at the doctor: “This is not an option for us! I want only one!”

Her fertility specialist referred her to a doctor in Atlanta who did reductions. But when Shelby called, the office manager told her that she would have to pay extra for temporary staff to assist with the procedure, because the regular staff refused to reduce pregnancies below twins. She contacted three more doctors, and in each case was told: not below two. “It was horrible,” she says. “I felt like the pregnancy was a monster, and I just wanted it out, but because we tried for so long, abortion wasn’t an option. My No. 1 priority was to be the best mom I could be, but how was I supposed to juggle two newborns or two screaming infants while my husband was away being shot at [in Iraq]? We don’t have family just sitting around waiting to get called to help me with a baby.”

Eventually, she... flew to New York for the procedure. “I said, ‘You choose whoever is going to be safe and healthy,’ ” she says. “I didn’t give him any other criteria. I didn’t choose gender. None of that was up for grabs, because I had to make it as ethically O.K. for me as I could. But I wanted only one.”

She paid $6,500 for the reduction and [felt] incredibly relieved. “I went out on that street with my mother and jumped up and down saying: ‘I’m pregnant! I’m pregnant!’ And then I went and bought baby clothes for the first time.”

Today, her daughter is 2½ years old. Shelby intends to tell her about the reduction someday, to teach her that women have choices, even if they’re sometimes difficult. “I am the mother of a very demanding toddler,” she says. “I can’t imagine this times two, and not ever knowing if I’d have another person here to help me. This is what I can handle. I’m good with this. But that’s all.”
Picture yourself as that daughter, hearing the story that Van Voris imagines telling in an inspiring fashion. Would you, the daughter, think I am woman, hear me roar, or would you think: There was another me  (2 others) who would have been with me all the times when I was lonely, and my mother killed her (them)? Why?! Because she was afraid we would be too much trouble? Maybe I am too much trouble. But I am trying to be good, and I would have helped take care of my sister(s). My sister(s)! Where are they!

But you anti-abortion readers are perhaps thinking: Why are you getting sentimental about that particular aspect of abortion? Every abortion represents a missing human being.

Here's Ross Douthat's column about the article: "The Failure of Liberal Bioethics."
From embryo experimentation to selective reduction to the eugenic uses of abortion, liberals always promise to draw lines and then never actually manage to draw them. Like [Dr. Mark Evans, described in the article], they find reasons to embrace each new technological leap while promising to resist the next one — and then time passes, science marches on, and they find reasons why the next moral compromise, too, must be accepted for the greater good, or at least tolerated in the name of privacy and choice. You can always count on them to worry, often perceptively, about hypothetical evils, potential slips down the bioethical slope. But they’re either ineffectual or accommodating once an evil actually arrives. Tomorrow, they always say — tomorrow, we’ll draw the line. But tomorrow never comes.

102 comments:

gutless said...

It's murder no matter how you dress it up.

David said...

Can you imagine being the non aborted twin, and realizing that your mother put you in a lottery where you had a 50% chance of being dead?

Scott M said...

I believe your conclusion is correct, AA.

Peano said...

Frantic, she yelled at the doctor: “This is not an option for us! I want only one!”

The moral question is reduced to two words: "I want." The moral question is, thus, obliterated.

Mark said...

As a parent of twins, this story nauseated me. Literally. And I know what "literally" means.

nana said...

As someone who found out she was having twins 5 weeks before they were born, I have very strong feelings about this. It was almost 32 years ago and when my boys were born I also had a 22 month old. It was not what we had planed and I was very afraid. My husband traveled a lot and we did not live close to any family.
The choice is not more controversial to me. It would not be an option for me. We struggled but all that was worth it. We gained more than you can form our bonus than you can possibly know.

KitaIkki said...

Why not give up two babies for adoption right after birth?

Mark O said...

I think this was triggered by the anniversary of Elvis' death. Some of you will know why.

NYTNewYorker said...

I regret that I will not live long enough to see this senseless murder end.

Is it over 50 million yet?

NYTNewYorker said...

It must be....

Scott said...

The next rampart is post-partum euthanasia. In the brave new world of progressive tomorrow, you'll be able to kill the mongoloid baby after it's delivered, rather than before, which is much more dangerous. To the mother, that is.

Carol_Herman said...

Bringing multiples to term is difficult. Before term they come out small.

Afterward, however, a mom will always work up a worry over what could have been.

Dunno, if you can even do the math for this one. Since to each his own.

And, these things are a matter of heart.

It wasn't so long ago that doctors didn't wash their hands between laboring women. So in hospitals they died quite frequently, following birth.

You couldn't have the story of Cinderella if Cinderella's mom didn't die. And, her dad remarry. Which brought along "those" step sisters.

But as albatrosses go, this one is around the necks of the very religious ... who've stuck social issues so high up ... candidates tend to get "aborted" before they win elections.

And, yes. Many Americans prefer it that way.

Synova said...

Pregnancy messes with your hormones. It's on purpose. Just on general principle I believe that the vast majority of women are not competent to make life or death decisions while pregnant or shortly post-partum. Your emotions and judgment are screwed up.

As for the lady panicking... OMG. At what point did she not get a clue that fertility treatments OFTEN result in multiple pregnancies? EVERYONE knows this. I have little sympathy.

And if she wasn't in a hormone storm and having panic attacks maybe someone with multiples could have talked to her about dealing with multiples. Her two year old would have someone to entertain her instead of just and only mom every moment of every day. It's not all twice or three times the work.

That said I think there are a couple of reasons people object to reductions of multiples. People object to pregnancy reductions below what seem to be for the health of the remaining babies. People carry twins without worry. It's a given that the person *wants* children. People object because they remember the fantasies they had as a child that they had a twin out there somewhere, or an older sibling, or whatever. We have a cultural expectation that siblings who shared a womb have a special bond. We *like* to adopt siblings together, but the idea of adopting twins into separate families so that they lose each other seems far worse than siblings born at different times being adopted to different families.

The chances of a child reacting to a story that they had a twin or had triplet siblings but mom got rid of them isn't likely to be met with a smile, hug and big wet kiss while the kid says, "Oh, thank you mommy! I never wanted a sister anyway! It's just You and Me!" It's more likely that there will be survivor's guilt and teenaged screeching about how maybe it would have been better if the doctor sucked her out and left her brother who wouldn't be ANY trouble at all. I hate you!"

Anyone who thinks that a child will understand it was all about Mommy having choices and that's a good thing, is as delusional as she was when she was having a nervous breakdown about fertility treatments UNEXPECTEDLY resulting in a multiple pregnancy.

Pete said...

Carol Herman, I'm sorry but your comment makes no sense.

Geoff Matthews said...

That story makes the mother sound self-centered.
And I suppose this is why I object to 'reductions' more than straight-out abortion. You have the arguments about the mother's health, deformity, rape/incest, or it being a bad time for having a child.
With reductions, its all about convenience. And that aspect makes the 'mother' sound very shallow indeed.

chickenlittle said...

"Carol_Herman" wrote: And, yes. Many Americans prefer it that way.

I'm getting a very strong vibe from you lately.

Please keep it up.

Bob Ellison said...

"But you anti-abortion readers are perhaps thinking: Why are you getting sentimental about that particular aspect of abortion?"

Is it really that difficult to understand?

"you anti-abortion readers" is an interesting label. Are you pro-abortion? If not, are you anti? Do you admit to difficulty with the issue?

The question of abortion is famously pregnant, so to speak, with cognitive dissonance.

bagoh20 said...

Simply imagine the twins were just born - an hour old . You hold one in each arm. Now pick one, and help with the termination procedure.

How much difference is there between that and a late term abortion. Is that sufficient difference to justify it for you?

Mark said...

Why not give up two babies for adoption right after birth?

With triplet there are significant increases in all the risks to infants and mother, no matter how well-managed the pregnancy. Twins are slightly riskier than singletons, but the medical situation is much more manageable. So medically, there's justification for reducing triplets and more down to twins.

(I'm queasy about selective reduction even then; my wife started out with triplets, and we'd decided to try to carry them through, but one spontaneously aborted very early on. Even so, we nearly lost another late, but we now have two perfect *cough cough* little people growing up together.)

jamboree said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Coketown said...

My moral compass is too blunt to answer these nuanced questions of liberal ethics. I don't find terminating one twin any "more controversial" than terminating the whole batch or part of a batch. It's all equally monstrous. But I guess so long as "the math's the same" it's alright. Lovely thought. Human life is now reduced to "math." Like the Jews.

Ann Althouse said...

""you anti-abortion readers" is an interesting label. Are you pro-abortion?"

I am strongly anti-abortion but I support abortion rights.

chickenlittle said...

"Carol_Herman" wrote:
But as albatrosses go, this one is around the necks of the very religious ... who've stuck social issues so high up ... candidates tend to get "aborted" before they win elections.

LOL, Carol, you old trickster! You yourself have "aborted" several "stupid party" candidates over the last couple weeks.

Strangled them at birth as it were.

You slay me.

jamboree said...

My mom told me about abortion the day she told me about the birds and the bees - when I was 8 or 9 years old. It was sex, menstruation, pregnancy, abortion all in one dialogue.

It didn't bother me one bit. It sounded completely logical. I was a very sensitive and philosophical child - think Linus Van Pelt. I had already given existence and death a lot of thought. As far as I was concerned, if someone offed me before memory began, I didn't care. It would save me conscious mortality, you see.

Having said all that, if I were pregnant with triplets and could only afford one, I'd give the other two up for adoption.

And don't even get me started on Elton John's "baby" with *two paid surrogates* (one for the DNA, one to be the mule, the workhorse, and carry it to term - all for money and probably to please a bored, aging trophy husband), Al Rantel and his bullshit, and the niceties of surrogate mothers in CA v the Ukraine, okay?

Marilee said...

What's the difference between this and the famously liberal Meryl Streep's Sophie's Choice. Which child would you give up. What if the "reduced" twin was the next Yo Yo Ma, or Ernest Hemmingway or...Barack Obama. I don't know how any mother could do this.
(mother had a 4 yr old, a 2 year old, me, when she gave birth to twins. I would have hated to decide which brother shoud be "reduced".)

rhhardin said...

It's because one twin has a soul and the other doesn't.

The soul relates us to others, as a grammatical point rather than a theological one.

To see if a fetus has a soul, look not at the fetus but at the parents.

Do they have plans for it? Does it already fit into their life? The nursery is set and baby stuff bought, for example. That fetus is a baby.

Separating twins is an impossible grammar. Both are the same, and normal ways of thinking, taking the soul to be a property of the fetus, can't deal with it.

Triplets brings back a logistical problem into it; maybe three is too many to have actual plans for. Rather than fitting into your life, it will make everything chaotic including your life. You can't think of them all as having souls.

Bob Ellison said...

"I am strongly anti-abortion but I support abortion rights."

Most people who see abortion as murder would say this is effectively pro-abortion. It is, indeed.

Most people who see abortion as a decision best left to the pregnant woman and/plus her doctor would say this is effectively pro-abortion. It is, indeed.

Thus, you are pro-abortion.

Mind you, I'm in your camp. I just don't care to say I'm anti-abortion when I allow it to happen. Just not liking abortion ain't enough. I don't like homicide, either, but in war, it's necessary. What's your position on abortion? It really isn't that difficult.

I'm pro-abortion. I think women should have most of the power here. A 9th-month abortion seems like an abomination, and I'd have no problem with outlawing that.

Palladian said...

I think abortion should be legal but the mother should have to perform the "procedure" on herself.

"Carol Herman, I'm sorry but your comment makes no sense."

You'll soon tire of writing that if you keep trying to read them. Think of a long comment thread like a long drive on a highway; reading Carol Herman's comments are like a driving game where you try to discern and remember each individual tree bordering the highway. You quickly give up, pop in a CD and just watch the road ahead.

Scott said...

"Terminating a pregnancy" is so effete. We ought to just say that the fetus was fired.

edutcher said...

Have to agree with Geoff on how the story makes the mother sound.

I can't speak for anyone else, but killing one triplet or twin is no better (or more controversial) to me than aborting a single birth.

A death is a death.

There are circumstances where someone has to end up playing God, as Ann notes, and sometimes that involves the calculus of taking one life to save another.

Very rough stuff, to be sure.

Mark said...

The thing that everyone is missing here is you don't just say "I'll take the three"; trying to carry that many at once significantly increases the odds of losing the entire pregnancy spontaneously, no matter how healthy the mother or how well the pregnancy is managed.

And all the risks attendant with very premature birth aren't something that might happen, but almost certainly will happen.

Someone who decides to give two a much stronger chance by sacrificing a third is not making an immoral choice, in my opinion. And trust me, that's not going to be an easy choice for most people.

Synova said...

Bob, I think that wanting abortion legal but thinking it's a bad thing that should hardly ever happen is what abortion rights were *originally* intended to be about. Legal, safe and rare?

Whatever happened to the "rare" part?

Someone who really, actually, for real, believes abortions should be "rare" will have to be willing to say they're a bad thing.

The argument that sometimes women are desperate or in desperate situations and that abortions should be legal and safe might convince some that abortions should be legal and safe, but take away the desperation part and make it a neutral choice and what is that?

If instead of being "bad" abortions are "good" (or as one lady preacher said, something middle class women with plenty of money and supportive husbands and families should consider a blessing... remember that lady?) then why want them to be rare? They're good, aren't they? Something good is something we want more of.

But heaven help you if you argue that they are bad. If you argue that abortions are bad you're a woman hater all the way.

Bleh.

If Althouse wants to be anti-abortion/keep it legal, then more power to her. It's less of a logical conflict than the present day abortion advocates show.

Synova said...

I think that's close to what I said, Mark. We don't see particular risk in carrying two. Three (or more!) is much riskier to the babies.

Someone else also said the same thing about relative risks to carrying, one, two or three.

Basil said...

If the nine month abortion can be outlawed, then it is not a "right." I have never heard a satisfactory explanation for the left wing feminist assertion (I hate to call it an idea) that a woman obtains "personal autonomy" and escapes from "objectivization" and "sexism" by being allowed to kill her baby. How does the logical connection between being a fully actualized person and killing a baby get made?

Carol_Herman said...

Peter Lawford's mom didn't like sex. So she smeared some raw meat onto her nightgown, so she could tell her husband she had her period.

To each his own.

I don't send out baby gifts to people I don't know.

So, why would I care about this article?

Some things are personal.

And, in politics, the nitwits are still trying to turn social issues into social policies.

They lose each and every time!

If it would have been a winning argument? Ronald Reagan would have pushed some political clout of his towards Bork.

Didn't.

And, everything else the social conservatives "buy" is the most contrived horse shit in town.

Like "Leave no child's ass behind." Grab all of 'em.

So easily fooled. Even a cluck like Dubya can do it.

MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS ... Should become like the Gadsden Flag.

Carol_Herman said...

Yeah. That's the ticket. "Give up the baby you didn't want to adoption."

Men say the stupidest things.

While Norman Mailer once wrote that he knew women who cried when their periods came, because they weren't pregnant. They cried for an egg that disintegrated. Nu? At least they could try again, next month?

As to stopping pregnancies from happening ... you see available on supermarket shelves, condoms. And, jellies. And, then you see tests women can use, that don't kill rabbits. But tell them at home ... if their missed period could mean they are pregnant.

It's still NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS!

Mark said...

Sorry Synova. My wife and I had four weeks to become somewhat expert in this moral calculus. I have very little patience with absolutists on this topic, and wished to pound the point some more.

Bob Ellison said...

Synova, yes. Well said. The Professor's original question seemed to be about the difficult division between acceptable and unacceptable abortion. She drives at the problem many people seem to have: arguing either that abortion is 100% bad or 100% OK.

Nobody likes abortion; everyone would be happy if it never happened. This is why I find the "safe/legal/rare" argument incomplete. Either you think abortion is an acceptable tool, or you don't. Pro-abortion people tend to want to run away from that argument; anti-abortion people tend to say "it's murder!" and thus trump the thing according to their moral calculus.

In short: own up. I do think it's similar to the question of homocide. When is it right to deploy apparently dastardly, painful force? Is it always wrong?

traditionalguy said...

That is cold. Who would want a parent like that?

If we are all accidental evolutionary artifacts waiting for death followed by nothing, then I guess it is all Ok no matter what we do. Have fun you fittest survivors.

But if people are God breathed living souls with personality in this life and in the next, then the children's blood cries out to God for justice.
And the surviving child will know what happened to their brother/sister whether they anyone tells them about it or not.

Carol_Herman said...

You know?

Someday people will ask, instead, "what happened to the tea party?"

Well, they kept their moral arguments so high ... the country went in one direction. And, those who wanted to win offices DIDN'T.

Close enough, now, for it to matter?

Or you need another clown like Dubya to make sure the silly fools who go into politics don't breed social programs?

I don't know the answer.

But elections are getting mighty strong turnouts. And, we're still at 50/50. Sometimes, results surprise ya. On the other hand? Often times, they do not. (I'm getting less and less surprised.)

From "born again." To "tea party" ... what's the next transitional name gonna be?

Carol_Herman said...

There was once a show on Broadway called JOE EGG.

In this story the mom has a very difficult birth at home. And, the baby is born brain damaged.

Still, as the baby grows, you go from scene to scene.

And, by the plays end the man leaves home.

Pete said...

Palladian, I see what you mean.

jr565 said...

I don't get the qualms people would feel if they are normally pro choice. The way it stands it's a woman's right to choose, no matter how selfish her choice or reasoning would be. So pro choices would be for abortions if the woman's life was at stake but also if she felt like only having boys, or didn't like that her kid might have a hairlip. It wouldn't matter what her choice was, it was always valid.

So, if any pro choicers are facing qualms or thinking there are complicated moral issues in all of this twin aborting pregnancies, that is simply your logic catching up to your conscience and that pang of guilt you feel is simply your recognition that you are advocating child murders. If you are at all consistent, don't have a care in the world and own up to twin pregnancy abortions. Hell, have a blast. Kill 9 fetuses and keep one. Make a game out of it. Put it on the web and have people vote to see which fetus gets whacked and which gets a reprieve.

jr565 said...

Bob Ellison wrote:
I'm pro-abortion. I think women should have most of the power here. A 9th-month abortion seems like an abomination, and I'd have no problem with outlawing that.

But an 8 moth abortion is not an abomination? That seems awfully arbitrary. What happens in one month that turns it into something that you're perfectly acceptable to one that must be outlawed and becomes an abomination?

nana said...

Carol Herman, Shut Up!

ricpic said...

I think this was triggered by the anniversary of Elvis' death. Some of you will know why.

Elvis Presley's twin brother, Jesse Garon Presley, was stillborn. Elvis was lost his whole life as a result.

jr565 said...

I love all those movies about people with handicaps who go through life after facing hardships and becoming heroes or artists. Perfect case in point, My Left Foot.
Here's a kid who can only move his foot. Can't talk. Everyone thinks he's an idiot. Worse than an idiot. Barely more than a coma patient, like Terry Shiavo. Yet, this "idiot" is in fact a genius, with enough artistic drive to put to shame most normal people. He is finally able to express himself, and triumph over extreme adversity, and everyone finally recognizes that he has worth.
IT's a great movie, based on a true story. Only aren't we glad that his parents weren't pro choice? At the very least we wouldn't have had a good movie to watch. But more importantly, it should be a movie that pro choicers go to and cry like everyone else. Only mixed in their teachers they should at least say to themselves from time to time "I'm such a selfish asshole. If it were me, I'd be one of the people who wouldn't find any value in Christie's life. Hell, he wouldn't have even gotten out of the womb".

jr565 said...

Ann Althouse wrote:
I am strongly anti-abortion but I support abortion rights.


I am strongly anti slavery, but I support Slavery owners rights to own slaves. Ergo, I'm a supporter of slavery.

MadisonMan said...

Did the doctor warn her about the high probabilities of multiples? I suspect so, but she was so blinded by baby lust that she didn't listen.

If the news negatively effects her daughter when she hears it, I suspect that is for reasons more related to Ms. Van Voris' parenting style than to the actual event.

Heart_Collector said...

When people show up for a abortion they should be led into the back room and get a fuckin .45 in the head.

Becareful what you wish for.

Barbara said...

jr565 -
Thank you. That is the arguement I use. I'm against murdering your grandmother but if you want to do it OK. I'm against rape but if you do it OK. You can't be against something moraly wrong...and yes, abortion is morally wrong but still say it's OK.

Blair said...

As a father of twins, I also feel like throwing up right now. There are no words for this waste of oxygen, and I can only hope that her surviving child rejects such a disgusting and hideous worldview...

"I am strongly anti-abortion but I support abortion rights."

Most people who see abortion as murder would say this is effectively pro-abortion. It is, indeed.


The whole abortion debate is a crock of shit. It's a moral issue, not a legal one. I have yet to hear a politician express the desire to criminalize women who have abortions, whatever they label themselves in the abortion debate. To my mind, that makes them "pro-choice". Yes, even Rick Santorum. All the politicians are "pro-choice", so let's stop pretending otherwise.

Job said...

Carol: "If it would have been a winning argument? Ronald Reagan would have pushed some political clout of his towards Bork."

When it was actually a democratically decided issue, it was largely against the law.

A very liberal Supreme Court tilted the playing field badly toward abortion, effectively requiring a constitutional amendment to effectively regulate it.

Of all Presidential terms since Roe, people who claimed to be pro-life won 6, pro-choicers have won 4. So, it would appear to be a winner.

One more thing, Carol. I have been reading your posts for a while and -- although I am not an MD -- I feel that I should remind you that you should take all medications prescribed -- the full dose -- at the prescribed times. No skipping doses.

Pogo said...

Convenience is a valuable commodity, in gas, food, travel, and fetuses.

Pogo said...

Feti.

Whatever.

jamboree said...

@traditionalguy:

But if people are God breathed living souls with personality in this life and in the next, then the children's blood cries out to God for justice.

Yeah, probably not though. As far as that goes, if you kill a fetus' body, it could go into the next body and the soul wouldn't die. I'm sure Crack would have something to say about that, but it's not less a fairy tale than what you stated.

You could believe or not believe. Your choice.

chickenlittle said...

You could believe or not believe. Your choice.

OK, I believe Trad Guy & I don't believe you.

Beta Rube said...

Marilee is right. This is Sophie's Choice with a slight time adjustment. Barbaric.

Pogo said...

People sleep just fine after culling the duplicates.

Slept like babies.

Lucius said...

"our culture's idealized notion"-- why should the idea of twinship's special bond be reduced to an *encultured* "idealized notion"?!

And do other cultures have no susceptibility to the mysteries of twinship then?

I suppose romantic love is another one of "our culture's idealized notions" to be rationalized [as opposed to reasoned] away. Oh to be the product of secular cultural relativism, to see through the tattered shrouds of all superstitions and delusions! Life itself is just a spun thread of protoplasm, to be pruned away as the accountants decree! Science and self-interest have calmly triumphed.

Now: go print some more money and fix this economy!! I need new Jimmy Choos, and I'm sure as shit not aborting one of those!

Carol_Herman said...

The "not an MD" but he still thinks he knows medication. And, labels.

While I keep wondering what happened to the Thalidomide babies?

As to social issues, they are there because they're hanging like an albatross off the necks of the GOP.

chickenlittle said...

This story reminds me of a story the NYT printed several years ago from a mother who had "selective reduction" and told her story in a very blase' matter-of-fact way. She felt absolutely no emotion about it. One of her biggest concerns was fear of having to start shopping at Costco. I think it must have helped her immensely that she never considered the fetuses to be people.

Henry said...

...the destruction of the twin is like every other abortion, and the moral qualms abortion supporters feel is a kind of half-awakening to a problem they should be seeing all the time.

Exactly my thoughts. I too found the quoted question bizarre. "What is it about x that seems more controversial than x..." I don't know how x is different than x. Mark makes some good points about medical risk and weighting the health of the mother and the multiples, but I don't see that consideration in the context of the article.

I'll be honest. I don't consider abortion the same as murder. But it is possible to consider the wanton destruction of life immoral without considering it murder. It is a truth that what abortion kills is not just a clump of cells, but a potential human being. That is an accounting that must be made.

But it also a truth that natural early-term abortions occur all the time. I do not believe that the bloody mechanics of nature are equivalent to the deaths of infants. We simply do not mourn that way.

bagoh20 said...

I don't know how people can be so sure about such questions. Where do you get this wisdom, or is it imagined?

It would be helpful if there was no single word for abortion. It's not a single thing, a single scenario, a single question. The word "abortion" is like the word "kill" it's amoral until you have context which can take it either direction. IMHO

The fetus is definitely innocent, but that's about all I know for sure. The sperm and egg are each innocent too, but nobody has a problem with them... until they touch.

I find Carol facinating, and unique. C'mon, you gotta admit unique.

chickenlittle said...

Carol_Herman wrote: As to social issues, they are there because they're hanging like an albatross off the necks of the GOP.

Those nasty burdens of guilt! Too bad we can't doff them like so many nuanced layers of white guilt.

Mark said...

Convenience is a valuable commodity, in gas, food, travel, and fetuses.

Sure. You want to risk all three to save one (and maybe mom to boot) to feel good about your moral logic?

Go ahead, if they're your family. (Reminder, my wife and I made that very decision.) But damn you if you want to make that into law.

chickenlittle said...

It would be helpful if there was no single word for abortion.

German words are often stark and metaphorically literal. Their word for abortion is die Abtreibung which is cognate with "the driving off" - in the sense of driving off something unwanted.

traditionalguy said...

Chickenlittle...Have you had a brother or sister killed before they were born?

It is not as easy to accept as the parents want to pretend it is.

We are all connected to our family members at the soul level.

I have known many people adopted at birth who felt a deep need to find their Father after they reached 30 or so, when the Father thought he had paid for an abortion, but the mother did adoption instead. I wonder why that happens.

A very real wound is there. They want badly to meet the real parent and tell them that they are good people who love them and miss them.

But if family planning was all controlling back then, it probably will remain so because of inheritance issues. It's usually about the reputation and the money.

chickenlittle said...

traditionalguy said...
Chickenlittle...Have you had a brother or sister killed before they were born?

No, not that I know of. I was "supposed" to be a girl (according to my mother).

chickenlittle said...

@tradguy: I was trying for sarcaustic with my guilt comment at Carol Herman earlier. She was asserting that only the GOP dishes out "social guilt."

Poppycock

Primitive Thinker said...

Oh sure, if my son were struck by lightening on the golf course it would pain me in the same way than if I discovered that my wife hired a hit man to have him eliminated.

Saint Croix said...

This upsets people because the strongest argument for abortion is that a woman should not be pregnant against her will.

But you can't argue this woman was pregnant against her will. She paid thousands of dollars to become pregnant. She chose pregnancy. And then she changed her mind. "I didn't want two. I wanted one."

Or, "I didn't want a girl, I wanted a boy."

The Supreme Court has defined the baby in the womb as a commodity. That is the ugly truth of Roe v. Wade. And that truth smacks us in the face when people spend money to purchase a baby and then want a refund. "That's not what I ordered." Wrong size, wrong color, too many.

Commodities.

We have defined a baby in the womb as property.

Of course, all small children are the property of their parents. They belong to us. But we recognize they are human beings, and they have rights independent of our will.

The unborn have no rights. They are nothing but property. An unborn infant does not become a person until she is free of her mother.

It's like the Supreme Court defined the womb as a slave state. Birth is freedom. But until you are free, you are property.

When you are born, you are free of your mother. Now, finally, the Supreme Court recognizes your humanity. Until that magical day, you are nothing. The Supreme Court has said so.

"We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins."

They do not care if it's a homicide. They haven't even thought about it. And this is not to say that every abortion is a homicide (IUD is not a homicide). And we know this because there are laws on the books in regard to when people die. Laws that we could and should apply to the unborn. But first we have to recognize they are human.

Michael said...

Well at least liberals have declared another sacred right on top of abortion and that is the right to have as much debt as you want.

Curious George said...

"I am strongly anti-abortion but I support abortion rights."

Professor wants both the moral high road but also be good with her peeps.

Pogo said...

"But damn you if you want to make that into law."

Who said anything about a law?

But that reminds me about how Paddy O recently asked... "Why is legislating economic morality okay but not sexual morality?"

Along those lines:
Why is legislating economic morality okay but not reproductive morality?

Commerce clause that.

Multiple births are the expected outcome of pregnancies wrought from fertility drugs. Pregnancies with multiples are more dangerous. Fetuses get culled as a result. This causes a moral quandary, and thus proceeding along that path brings with it an inescapable discomfort.

In the rare instance of natural multiples, the same issue arises, but without having intentionally magnified one's own risk.

Roux said...

It is very sad that this woman who has wealth has no moral compass or compassion. She so easily threw two lives away because she couldn't be burdened.

Having children is a huge responsibility and a very tough job. My guess is that she won't be up to the task.

Pogo said...

“This is not an option for us! I want only one!

Bridezilla gets pregnant.

gerry said...

I know it's Herman, but who've stuck social issues so high up
is so stupid that I cannot ignore it. Abortion is not a social issue. It is a moral issue, and a very big one at that.

Feminist inhumanity, in the name of some sort of distorted pusuit of liberty, is appalling.

E. W. Childers said...

We had to destroy the village to save it.

Scott M said...

We had to destroy the village to save it.

Wasn't that the rationale at My Lai?

TMink said...

My wife and I used donor embryos to have children. They thawed three, said they would select and insert the two best, and each had a 66% chance of implanting. That is the math.

As the embryos thawed, all three were rated as A+, and the doctor, without telling us, inserted all three. We did not find out till the following Monday when our regular fertility doctor asked us "Why did you have three put in?"

We were shocked and stunned and frankly terrified. The idea of triplets sent our minds reeling. My wife asked about terminating one of the children as a way out of what felt like a mess.

The next Friday my wife began to bleed. She bled a lot. We called the doctor and the doctor said we may be losing the pregnancy, but there is nothing to be done, and we should come in on Monday. It was the longest weekend of our life. We were miserable and tearful. We prayed to not lose our children, cried some more, and limped into Monday.

Monday morning we found that the bleeding was just from the embryoes implanting in the uterine wall and that everything was hunky dory.

Today the kids, all three of them, finish their first week of 3rd grade.

God is so wise, He knew just how to snap us out of our panic and back into thanking Him for the extra special miracle of that pregnancy.

So I understand the fear of parents of multiples, but thankfully, I also know the peace of being the parent of triplets who have a loving God.

Trey

SGT Ted said...

The overarching question that comes to my mind is why are womens emotional states to be catered to while mens are to be controlled, reduced to non-importance and supressed?

lyssalovelyredhead said...

Cognitive dissonance is a bitch.

It's interesting to me that most civil rights issues have seemed completely normal quickly; within 20-30 years, it seemed unthinkable to most that we had lived in a world with slavery, restrictions on women's rights to vote, racially segregated schools, etc. But abortion, if anything, appears to become more and more contentious. I think that people know that it's wrong, deep down, they just can't accept it yet.

Aside: they're remaking Dirty Dancing, they say. I'd bet that the new version axes, or at least signficantly downplays, the abortion part of the plot. It won't play as well today as it did then.

- Lyssa

acm said...

It's pretty simple. Most people are happy to acknowledge that abortion is terrible, but quickly rush to add that it's *less* terrible than a teenager raising an unwanted child in poverty, or an already-victimized woman going through the nine-month ordeal of bearing her rapist's child, or any of the usual hard cases. It's a lot harder to say "Oh, yes, abortion is terrible but still better than...having babies that are low birthweight and shopping at Costco"

Also, people have a lot of wrong information about twins. I have twins, and two singletons. Twins are not twice the work. They're more work than one, especially as newborns, but not anything like twice as much. You get up in the night as often as with singletons, you just stay up a few minutes longer to change and burp the second baby. It's a tiny bit more work to push a double stroller than a single. Tiny. I found my twins to be easier as toddlers than their singleton sisters. They had a same-age playmate whom they greatly preferred over Mommy, so I didn't need to hear "Mommy play with me" when I was trying to do what needed to be done, at least not as often as when I had just one toddler or preschooler at home.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

Abortion is not a social issue. It is a moral issue, and a very big one at that.

It's a human rights issue.

Saint Croix said...

TMink, that's a great story. Thank you for sharing that.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Isn't saying "abortion should be safe, legal, and rare" at this late date as wishful as saying "Mortgages should be easy, unregulated, and sound"?

Saint Croix said...

it seemed unthinkable to most that we had lived in a world with slavery, restrictions on women's rights to vote, racially segregated schools, etc. But abortion, if anything, appears to become more and more contentious.

Yes. All those things seem evil to us today. We recognize the evil and we demonize all the people in those societies who believed those things to be good.

The same thing will happen with abortion, one day.

And future generations will look back at this era and wonder how we could be so barbaric. And the people who supported this awful practice, good people--our friends and neighbors--will be disparaged as baby-killers.

So have a little sympathy for Thomas Jefferson, slaveowner. He lived in his society as we live in ours.

Good people can do horrible things. Particularly when those horrible things are legal.

Scott M said...

Good people can do horrible things. Particularly when those horrible things are legal.

Primae noctis comes to mind.

By the by...whatever happened to the impending move to the new site? Did manbearpig find a polar bear floating near their server or what?

Smilin' Jack said...

But if people are God breathed living souls with personality in this life and in the next, then the children's blood cries out to God for justice.

Half of all human conceptions spontaneously abort, i.e. are aborted by God. Whom does their blood cry out to?

Saint Croix said...

And that is the basic problem with Casey.. The Supreme Court called on the American people to accept its decision, and to follow it.

And yet we do not accept it.

We reject the idea that we can abort a pregnancy without regard to the baby's life. And we will continue to fight, and fight, and fight, until Roe is overruled.

There is not a judicial ruling in the world that can withstand the anger of a people who are divided in two.

You have not brought us together.

You have not found consensus.

What Casey makes clear, is that all you Supreme Court Justices really care about--and this is obvious from the language you use--is your own status as the highest court of the land. You are concerned, not with the baby, nor the father, nor even the mother. You are concerned, first and foremost, with your own power and authority.

You do not deserve your authority. Not over this issue. You have abused your power. You have sought to play God. And it is your lack of concern for the baby's life that damns you in the eyes of so many of us.

Saint Croix said...

Half of all human conceptions spontaneously abort, i.e. are aborted by God. Whom does their blood cry out to?

Zygotes don't have blood, Smilin' Jack, so I don't think they are crying out to anybody.

Now tell us why birth is so important.

Tell us why a preemie in an incubator is a human being with a right to live. And a baby on the verge of birth--older, stronger, more developed, viable, alive--is an object who is outside our laws and can still be terminated by her mother.

Scott M said...

What's always bugged me is the will of the mother thing. If a pregnant woman who intends to keep her baby gets hit and killed by a DUI, it's two counts of manslaughter.

What if she was on her way to Planned Parenthood to abort?

The will of the mother apparently determines the personhood of the unborn.

Saint Croix said...

The will of the mother apparently determines the personhood of the unborn.

Yes, and we segregate our babies too by whether they are wanted or wanted.

Wanted babies are babies.

Unwanted babies are fetuses.

We use language to determine their status, and their fate.

Freeman Hunt said...

Half of all human conceptions spontaneously abort, i.e. are aborted by God. Whom does their blood cry out to?

Last I checked, the human death rate stood at 100%. As far as I know, it always has. And yet, murder is still wrong. As is abortion.

TMink said...

I am quite content with accepting God's responsibility with life and death. That is why I oppose abortion and the death penalty.

Trey

Saint Croix said...

Or consider the case of a man who kicks the shit out of a pregnant woman in the street, and causes a miscarriage.

The people of California were so outraged by this case, they made it a homicide to do that. Lots of states made in a homicide.

In 2004, Republicans in the Senate wanted to define that crime as a homicide.

Many Democrats objected, on the grounds that we cannot start defining a baby in the womb as a person. Democrats were worried that if we start punishing a forced miscarriage as a homicide, that might endanger the right to abortion.

Abortion doctors were exempted from this statute. It did not matter. Democrats voted against it anyway.

Hence, it is not infanticide to kick the shit out of a pregnant woman in the street and kill her baby. At least according to the liberals who, supposedly, care about women.

Saint Croix said...

Ideology trumps all. It even trumps the will of the woman. No pregnant woman wants to be attacked by a man on the street and forced to have an abortion.

And yet liberals cannot bring themselves to recognize the actual crime. Homicide. You killed her baby.

Dehumanizing the infant trumps everything, even choice.

n.n said...

There are at least two issues of merit in this context. First, when do we acknowledge the dignity of a human life? Second, how do we reconcile competing interests between two or more individuals of dignity?

The first is fundamentally a philosophical question or an article of faith. The second determines to what extent we value and respect our intrinsic and developed differences.

The answers to these questions provides guidance to our social and economic challenges.

There are at least two orders that govern our world: natural and enlightened. The former is obvious and is perceived as reality. Whereas the latter is assumed or axiomatic. The former includes procreation, viability of our species, and totalitarian principles. Whereas the latter includes acknowledgement of individual dignity and self-moderating behavior through the acceptance of moral knowledge.

Our liberty, dignity, and viability rests with our compromises. There is an inescapable order in this world, and when we oppose or subvert it, the consequences become transparent. Let's hope we choose correctly. If not, then we will be just another civilization that collapses under its own hubris. A footnote in historical records, which future generations will ultimately ignore, as we ignore the lessons of our ancestors today.

Kirk Parker said...

Pete,

Re your 7:30pm: I think it's a case of "catchword association meets logorrhea".

And bagoh20: unique? Sure, but only in the false Tolstoyian sense.

Wikitorix said...

I don't know why people keep talking about this "safe, legal, and rare" stuff. That's not what the Democrats are advocating. They don't even pretend to care about "rare" anymore. In 2008, the Democratic Party platform was changed to remove the "rare" part (it's on page 52):

Choice
The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.


The new Democratic line is "safe, legal, and free."

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