Badda-bing. Badda-boom. For our instant gratification society, what could be more appropriate? American women certainly know our options when it comes to getting exactly what we want at the precise moment that we want it. You don't have time for children right now – that's okay. We've got a pill for that. You don't want children but you forgot to take your pill? That's okay. We've got a pill for that too. You don't want children and the pills didn't exactly work as advertised? Not a problem. Hop up on the table. We'll have that situation remedied and have you out the door in 30 minutes or less. Ya can't ask for better service than that. You can't even get a pizza that fast, my friends.
So, that's the routine and you'll want to keep following that prescription for about a decade or so and then…when you are emotionally mature enough to handle the responsibilities associated with having a family…just stop taking your pills and away we go! Woohoo! Okay, 'tis true. The pills may have messed up your system a little, so you may not be able to start your family right now at this very moment, but just be patient. Give it a few weeks – hmmm, a few months – okay, perhaps a few years. Of course, you may not have that much time depending on how long it took you to emotionally mature. That's okay. We've got pills for that too. You'll want to take those for a while to jump start your system. No? Still nothing? Okay. Let's try some injections and if that doesn't work then we can always give IVF a whirl.
In vitro fertilization. The miracle in a test tube. You may even know someone who has been blessed with a baby because of this advancement in science. According to the CDC, 6.1 million women between the ages of 15 and 44 have fertility problems (although why the CDC is tracking fertility problems for 15 year old girls? Do I even want to know?) An astounding 33% of women over the age of 35 require medical intervention to produce a pregnancy. Of those women who seek assistance, 25% use IVF successfully. That's 1.5 million women, and that statistic is important because the opportunities associated with IVF include some risks as well – not the least of which is the possibility of producing twins and higher order multiples (HOM). In the last 20 years, there has been a 400% rise in the rate of higher order multiples (that's triplets or higher.) In that same period, the rise in singleton rates increased by a mere 6%.
And that statistic puts a tremendous pressure on medical professionals because in the past, HOM pregnancies came with complications for the mother, were more likely to end in miscarriages, produced premature and possibly unhealthy infants, and put stress on our already overtaxed health care system. Doctors and insurers agree. That's not good for business. That's where selective reduction comes into the equation. The procedure is nothing new. It's been going on for decades. If the perinatologist involved sees a problem with one of the babies within a pregnancy, he or she will often suggest selective reduction as an option in order to improve the chances for a live birth for any remaining babies. FYI – selective reduction is just a pretty way of saying abortion, but they are not counted in abortion statistics here in the US because a viable pregnancy still remains after the reduction takes place (although, miscarriage can occur because of the selective reduction.) Interestingly though, due to current improvements in medical technology, the Journal of Perinatology finds little statistical improvement in the pregnancy outcome for those women who do choose to selectively reduce. Advancements are such that having triplets is as statistically successful as reducing down to twins or a singleton.
But fertility clinics get into a lot of trouble when they engineer a pregnancy that involves the implantation of more than one embryo. As of lately, some doctors have been encouraging women to reduce even healthy pregnancies because fewer babies are just less controversial, and that takes selective reduction to a whole new level. Now women aren't necessarily aborting one or more babies to improve viability for remaining siblings. Now it is often done because higher order multiple pregnancies produce preemies with physical delays which will then require special services and therapies. And that's expensive. There is an article that was posted on LifeSiteNews from Oct of 2011 that tells the story of Erin and Jennifer Conley and their experience with their spontaneous HOM pregnancy – that means no fertility treatments were used. The specialist working with the Conley's showed them their ultrasound and then strongly advised them to reduce the pregnancy:
"Is there anything wrong with the children?" the parents wanted to know.
"Not at this point," the doctor said. "But triplets are dangerous. And you know, if they all survive to term, it takes parents more than 24 hours a day to care properly for three infants."
The couple found the attitude of this doctor to be incompatible with their own prolife philosophy and sought out another specialist. The babies were born after 36 weeks with a total birth weight of around 17 lbs. The family is doing just fine.
It's worth mentioning that many doctors do not advocate reducing healthy babies for convenience sake and "resist becoming technicians" to their patients' whims. Unfortunately, a growing number of women go beyond doctor recommendations to electively reduce their pregnancies and will shop for doctors who are willing to perform these services. "Either reduce me to a singleton, or I'll end the pregnancy."
Ahhh, that burgeoning maternal instinct - it's a beautiful thing.
After years of fertility treatments, waiting, hoping, and praying for a viable pregnancy, these women opt to reduce down to two babies or even to one baby because they just can't imagine being able to give enough love to more than one child. And adoption clearly isn't an option. Bioethically speaking, these women experience no concern over the elective termination of their unborn children. Why? Per the New York Times in an article from August of 2011 entitled The Two-Minus-One Pregnancy:
"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"
And this leaves Americans with a unique bioethical dilemma. If there's no real medical reason for the reduction, if it's purely finances or esthetics that are the motivating factor, if you are merely opting to reduce because you're not emotionally mature enough to handle more than one baby, then which baby gets to live? Which baby dies? Interesting.
I think the numbers speak for themselves.
In nature, 105 boys are born for every 100 girls with a range of 104 to 106 for every 100. That is because boys are less likely to survive to maturity for a multitude of reasons. Any deviation in that statistical constant occurs through scientific manipulation. In India, 112 boys are born for every girl. In China (depending on the region) upwards of 150 boys are born for every girl. It is estimated that 163 million girls have been aborted and selectively reduced throughout the world since the 1980s. That's where we are headed here in America as well. It seems that we've taken the important first step towards the Left's much touted "One Child Policy."
So you want a baby but you'll pass on the triplets? That's okay. It turns out we've got a pill for that. And that means that today's designer family consists of a man, a woman…and their son. Ironically, a woman's need for instant gratification comes at a cost. And girls are the ones who will pay.