Would you have a selective reduction? With twins?

One of our readers sent me this link to an Elle story on CNN.com. It is the shocking and heartbreaking story of a mother choosing to selectively reduce (abort, kill whatever word you would choose) one baby out of the twins. She already had one older child and just wanted one more. They used fertility treatments and got twins but decided to only keep one.

This is very hard story to read. I cried through most of it and my stomach was ill after reading it. If you are particularly sensitive (ie pregnant right now) you may not want to read this.

It is a long story but well worth  reading all of it because you understand all of her reasoning (whether you agree with it or not).

I think there are multiple elements to this discussion – obviously the abortion issue, but I think even more so the question is about this mother’s motivations. (As the reader sent me the story said “ I’m pro-choice but what this lady did nauseated me!”)

  • Was she selfish to abort?
  • How do you handle what you are given – ie – more children than you wanted, a child with a disability, no children.
  • Sacrifice parents make to care for their kids – less time for themselves, no vacations, no sleep. How much sacrifice are you willing to make? Is your sacrifice worth a child’s life? (If the mom was willing to breastfeed two babies the child would be alive?)
  • Should selective reduction (abortion, killing, again whatever word choice you would make) be limited to just higher level multiples or in case of illness of mother or baby?
  • Are you surprised the author used her real name?

Other thoughts or insights into this story or other similar experiences?

80 comments Add your comment

Jeff

September 8th, 2010
6:42 am

She’s an evil, selfish person. While she has the legal right to do what she did, I also have the legal right to let her actions affect my opinion of her. What did the husband want? Was there any consideration for him? How would that affect their marriage/relationship?

As far as my experience, I told my ex I wasn’t ready to have children YET and to wait about a year (we had just started a business). Three months later she was pregnant. Damaged our marriage and made me wonder whether she was on our team or her team.

Sam

September 8th, 2010
6:48 am

I am not going to judge this woman, and I encourage others from refraining as well. It is not for me to make an opinion about her personal health.

1sus

September 8th, 2010
6:51 am

Oh, this was a disturbing and sad article. We were required to have the “selective reduction” discussion with our reproductive endocrinologist when we did IVF. It is an emotionally charged and difficult time. I couldn’t imagine it, but then again, I couldn’t imagine being pregnant with quads. Luckily we got pregnant with a single, so it wasn’t an issue. At that time, I would have been THRILLED with twins. Funny that she referred to her “crappy insurance” that only covered 3 IVFs! That is AMAZING coverage. Ours covered NOTHING! A lot of times when I read these kinds of articles, I think I shouldn’t judge until I’ve walked a mile in the other person’s shoes, but I’m having trouble not judging on this one. Fertility treatments are not an exact science as many people think. She should have NEVER gone into this with a firm idea that she would ONLY bear one child.

mom2alex&max

September 8th, 2010
6:52 am

I’m sorry, but I couldn’t read the whole thing. From the 1st half that I read, it seems it was mostly the husband that was not even sure about a 2nd child to begin with, much less a 2nd AND a 3rd. It also sounded like it was more a convenience factor than a money factor.

Judge not, I keep telling myself as I am not the one that has to live with this. But still…hard not to.

mom2alex&max

September 8th, 2010
6:54 am

Also, I was thinking: we are being pretty nice (so far) about telling ourselves not to judge. But you know, she’s the one that took her story to the media…..

lakerat

September 8th, 2010
7:06 am

Tough situation, and talk about a publicity hound – I do, however, wonder what made a 43 yr old woman with a beautiful and healthy 3 year old want another child, especially after the problems with not being able to conceive naturally, supposedly knowing of all the pitfalls associated with late age pregnancies.

fred

September 8th, 2010
7:07 am

first off I am pro choice, meaning that although it is not the right choice for me, I do believe that I do not have the right to infringe my personal beliefs on somebody else. As I read this I thought I could not have done this with twins, but what about with thee or four or if my wife was to be the next octomom, would I consider it then. truth be told, probably. what she did was legal and in her mind ethical as she thought she could probably not take care of three. I cant fault her for that. I dont however see why she decided to bring this to the attention of the media.

First time poster

September 8th, 2010
7:09 am

Her body, her choice, doesn’t really matter what I think. As for myself, I only have one child, have only wanted one child so I can’t say what I would do under the same conditions, but I lean toward not having a reduction.

BusyMom

September 8th, 2010
7:46 am

Absolutely Not! I found out I was pregnant with twins when I had a 3 year old and 1 year old. After the initial shock, we were thrilled.

MomOf2Girls

September 8th, 2010
7:53 am

Theresa – I know you don’t realize what you’re asking with your second question, because there is no way to respond to it in a blog, It requires a full length article (pamphlet, magazine, book, tome???) to describe what it is truly like to handle a special needs child.

I have alluded in the past to having children who were born with medical issues. I did not know they would be born like this, but NEVER would I have considered aborting either of them. My second daughter was born with a cleft palate. My first daughter was a bit more complicated. She had a giant omphalocele and unilateral radial hypoplasia. In plain English, this means that her stomach, liver, and intestines were all outside of her body, but inside the peritaneal sac, when she was born, and she was missing her right radius, thumb and several metacarpals. She spent over 9 weeks at Egleston, 6 of those on a ventilator in NICU, before she could come home. She had 9 surgeries in 2 years (5 the first 2 months). She was on a feeding tube until she was 4, and shuttling her to specialists and therapists was a full-time job for 2 years.

How did we handle it? We just did! You deal with what you are given.

Want some more “deal with it”? My friends’ 15 year old daughter just died on Saturday. She was put into hospice less than a week before. She was born with massive neuro issues, and until she started deteriorating 10 months ago, was a beautiful, healthy, but highly special needs kid. Her parents just dealt with it!!

What would I sacrifice? Everything short of another’s life.

MomOf2Girls

September 8th, 2010
7:54 am

Theresa – I just posted something that disappeared. I do not have it in me to type it again. Please find it.

madmommy

September 8th, 2010
8:01 am

I am Pro-Life and personally could never ever think about aborting a child. Idon’t even know how I would start that convo with someone, let alone “get it taken care of.” Whatever happend to people keeping their personal life just that-personal? I hope this”mom” doesn’t start doing the talk show rounds because of the backlash I’m sure she is now getting.

Hey, madmommy...

September 8th, 2010
8:07 am

…are you “Pro-Life” for all circumstances, or just in chosen situations? My question centers upon this scenario – if your doctors told you, with all medical certainty of all experts available, that you had to choose between your life and your unborn fetus, or you would die, what choice would you make?

Photius

September 8th, 2010
8:10 am

The whole situation is repulsive and vile; a prime example of the overindulgence and greed of developed people. Science gave us test tube babies…. now a 43 year old can get pregnant even though nature might have a different path for some; not everyone is designed to reproduce or even to have more than one…. but the brains of science have allowed this self indulged disgusting woman the option because “I always wanted two children”. This is the dark side of America – give me everything, it’s all about me, my convenience, my life. Then she displays herself in an article – more self centered barf bag of an excuse of a human being.

Andrea

September 8th, 2010
8:11 am

Wow……….my emotions truly ran the gamut with this one. I think she made the wrong choice for the wrong reasons (money, convenience, etc.).

OAS: What is up with the term “selective reduction”? Call a spade a spade. If you are going to have the balls to make this decision, OWN it. Don’t try to shirk behind politically correct terms. That just bothers me.

RJ

September 8th, 2010
8:16 am

Selective reduction…a doctor’s way of saying murder. This woman knew the likelihood of becoming pregnant with multiples yet she took the risk anyway. It was a selfish decisio (as are most abortions) that she will end up regretting.

I am pro-life so I wouldn’t agree with her decision to abort even one child.

@Jeff, I’m curious to know if your wife intentionally got pregnant, or did the birth control not work. My best friend got pregnant at 20 even though she took her birth control pills everyday. The doctor told her that nothing can guarantee you don’t get pregnant but abstinence. Today he’s a healthy teenaged boy but she certainly hadn’t planned on having a kid so young. It seems that you guys already had problems and having a kid just added to them.

Michelle

September 8th, 2010
8:20 am

Wow…it is so hard not to judge in this circumstance. All I can say is that she will be the one dealing with the guilt for the rest of her life! I wonder how she will deal with her little girl when she has feelings of something “missing” in her life? I do think twins have a special bond and know when the other one is gone (for whatever reason).

What a truly disturbing article.

motherjanegoose

September 8th, 2010
8:23 am

Some things I will never understand.

theresa

September 8th, 2010
8:42 am

mom2 I can’t dig it out this second but will as soon as I can.

Becky

September 8th, 2010
8:55 am

I like what 1sus said..You (usually) go into these things knowing that there is a chance of multiple babies..Could I do it? H3ll no, but I wish her the best if this was the right choice for them..

Metro Coach

September 8th, 2010
8:59 am

If she really just wanted one more, she should have adopted. Everyone knows with IVFs and all other forms of artificial pregnancies that the chance of multples greatly increases. I won’ttype what I really think about this woman, because it would get my post censored and probably get me banned from comenting for a long time. To clean it up, what a horrible, selfish, irresponsible shrew of a woman.

Bunch of Yentas

September 8th, 2010
9:00 am

I wouldn’t have fertility treatments in the first place. ESPECIALLY, not if I was already lucky enough to have a child.

Just think how much better the world would be if everyone elected to either have one or no children.

We could drastically reduce the population of the planet.

Betty

September 8th, 2010
9:11 am

Wow–hard to imagine making this decision but I’m even more surprised that she wrote about it, assuming she used her real name (and even if she didn’t-she shared personal facts about her family). What will her kids think of the decision when they are old enough to hear/read about it?

I admire honesty in most circumstances but I think she would have made a better decision keeping quiet about her choices and decisions–especially given that her children will now know about their lost sibling.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

September 8th, 2010
9:22 am

Oh my goodness momof2girls — God bless you!!! I can’t even imagine having that sick of a baby. I know how hard it was being at the hospital in ICU with my brother last summer for his heart transplant and he was 40. I can’t imagine watching a baby on NICU with her insides out. Poor, Poor baby!! Is she doing well now??????? Mothers of special needs babies are constantly making sacrifices — it takes more time for them to do everything for their children — this lady was glad she didn’t have to nurse two.

On your friends’ daughter — that is heartbreaking too. I can’t imagine losing a child. I pediatric surgeon I know had to go to a funeral for a 2-year-old on Sunday. So unbelievably sad!! I couldn’t do her job! I just couldn’t!!

God bless you Momof2 girls — you’re doing a good job!! and your children love you for all your love and care!

Andrea

September 8th, 2010
9:29 am

@Momof2girls: You really put this in perspective for me. God bless you and your family. I hope your little one is doing better now and will continue to progress. My prayers to you and your friend that just lost her child.

mamaC

September 8th, 2010
9:30 am

oh my gosh, I read this story last week while sitting in my OBGYN’s office waiting for my 36 week check-up. I was a wreck by the time they called me back. If they only wanted one baby, then they should have only fertilized and implanted one egg.

Bunch of Yentas

September 8th, 2010
9:31 am

I think its selfish to have a lot of kids.

BessieBear

September 8th, 2010
9:33 am

What a shame they didn’t think to give the other baby up for adoption! What a wonderful gift they could have given. Yes, it would be a hard pregnancy. Yes, there would be some risk of losing both (though sounds like maybe they both weren’t on board for another child anyways). But now she will probably carry that guilt with her the rest of her life, instead of having a wonderful feeling of helping someone else. And what happens when their girl finds out that they chose to get rid of her twin brother?

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

September 8th, 2010
9:38 am

she doesn’t seem to feel guilty at the end. she seemed to at the doctors but not so much at the end.

MomOf2Girls

September 8th, 2010
9:38 am

Theresa – Thanks for your kind comments. Both of my girls are doing great. The crown princess (older daughter) is 13, and a “senior” in middle school with all of the typical 13-year-old stuff (minus the boy stuff – too long to explain but a byproduct of being an Orthodox Jew). The casual observer would never be able to pick her out. However, she resides on a higher plain spiritually (hard to explain – she doesn’t act holier-than-thou or anything like that, she just “is” – her new headmaster gasped when he saw her school picture, said he could see her soul even there). Although she doesn’t have full use of her arm / hand, she adapts and conquers – has done this with everything for as long as I can remember.

The usurper (younger daughter) is also a typical kid, just needs a whole lot of orthodontia work to fix the mess the cleft made!

As far as breastfeeding, I wish I could have done it. I pumped for both kids. Almost 2 years for Crown Princess, and only 7 months for Usurper (I pumped 90 oz a day for her, had enough frozen to last until she was 2, then threw out what was left). Pumping entailed getting up in the middle of the night, pumping, then taking another 30 minutes to feed the kid. Again, it’s just what you do. I never thought of myself as special or making sacrifices, it was just how I lived my life. And it was nothing compared to how my friends lived theirs – check out this blog if you want to see parental sacrifice. Makes the woman in the article (and her husband) seem pretty pathetic!
http:/ / liam-vilensky. blogspot. com /

TnT's Mom

September 8th, 2010
9:52 am

There are so many issues that we can disagree with on this woman. What I dont’ understand is why she chose to go public with her story? People make decisions every day that others would disagree with, but we tell strangers about then. Did she think that she would get sympathy or understanding? Did she hope someone would comfort her? I am at a loss.

TnT's Mom

September 8th, 2010
9:56 am

oops, “we DONT tell strangers about then”

RH

September 8th, 2010
9:59 am

We are living in a warped society. IMHO, this woman is probably going to have to deal with a broken marriage & family and some sort of psychiatric help due to her actions. I agree with what mom2alex&max said, if you don’t want to be judged, then don’t put your story out there!

Becky

September 8th, 2010
10:04 am

@MomOf2Girls..Bless you and your family..I can relate to some of what you have gone thru..My stepsons boy was born with a cleft palate..Then when he was to have his first surgery,they found out that he had a heart murmur (sp)..He is now 18 and will soon have his last surgery..Doing really good..

My great nephew was born with his intestines on the outside of his stomach and at birth was given a 5% chance of living..He has had several trips to the hospital and still is on a tube, but has basically done very well..He will be 15 in Dec. and he pretty much does what all 15 year olds do..

I have a cousin that his son was born the same way more than 30 years ago and he only came home from the hospital the last week of his life..He only lived 18 months..

So yes, you do what you have to do and you thank God that Drs. now know so much more and can “fix” these children..You also learn to cherish all of your children because you realize just how much you have..

I also have a niece in KY. that had a liver transplant 12 years ago..She is doing great and has a 10 year old daughter..Because she knew that this would be her only child, she has learned to enjoy every single momnet that she has with her..

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

September 8th, 2010
10:18 am

TNT’s mom — I think you are being generous in your evaluation of her possible motivation to share the story.

DB

September 8th, 2010
10:32 am

I’m sorry — I got half-way through that story and got angrier and angrier at her and couldn’t finish, except for the last paragraph.

I believe children are a gift and entrustment from God, not a commodity. This whole thing struck me as a spoiled woman who went “shopping” for a child and decided to throw away the BOGO extra. She KNEW the risks of multiples when she started fertility treatments.

I suspect this will haunt her for the rest of her life.

JATL

September 8th, 2010
10:36 am

So much to say about this! First off, this particular woman and couple are selfish and had no business doing fertility treatments if they weren’t going to responsibly deal with the “consequences.” If their money is so tight, why are they dishing out cash for fertility treatments? Why can’t they be happy with ONE kid?

I STRONGLY believe in reduction when people do IVF and wind up pregnant with 4-6 embryos. If you’re going to play God and do IVF in the first place, then you need to be willing to give yourself and some of those babies a chance to be healthy and thrive. For every octomom and person who manages to have 4 or 5 kids at once who aren’t really messed up, there are twice as many who have that many and they all have tons of health problems and birth defects that could have been avoided if the pregnancy had been reduced down to triplets or twins (or they all die, never make it to term, etc). AGAIN -if you’re going to play God, then be willing to play the role all the way! I’m DISGUSTED at these religious nuts who can’t get pregnant, so they trot off to IVF land and when told their 6 children will be lucky to live at all and will definitely have a lot of defects if they don’t reduce -THEN they call on God’s name and say they just can’t do something like that! Well, if they’re that enmeshed in religion, then perhaps they should’ve taken the hint and not had kids anyway! Obviously “God” didn’t want them getting pregnant.

Back to this story -this couple disgusts me because it is only twins and they don’t seem to have been on the same page at all regarding another pregnancy or the possibility of multiples with IVF. Another case of selfish IDIOTS. I would completely support her if she had 4 or more in there because that does definitely become dangerous to mother and fetuses -but I would support a reduction down to 2. Bottom line -NO ONE should be allowed to even do IVF if a) they won’t take the BEST interests of the health of the fetuses in account and choose reduction if a lot of the embryos “take” -and I don’t care what you want to call it -murder, abortion, whatever -some have to be sacrificed for the good of a few (and if you don’t like it -don’t do IVF) and b) they’re not SO picky they only want one or they only want a girl or whatever. The whole thing disgusts me.

Jess

September 8th, 2010
10:49 am

I started skimming the story because this entitled selfish woman was pissing me off. When she decided which of the babies to kill was really putrid, I mean really Theresa, what kind of reaction did you expect from your readers.

Lady Strange

September 8th, 2010
10:55 am

UGH!! While I am pro-choice, I would never do what this woman for those reasons. Yes twins would have been hard but being a parent is hard work. You make those sacrifices for your children, if you are not willing to make sacrifices then don’t have kids in the first place. Her and her husband just come across as selfish. They could have adopted if they wanted only 1 more child. I am just at a loss for words about this lady & her husband.

TnT's Mom

September 8th, 2010
11:07 am

This woman is going to have a lot to deal with in the future because of her actions. As someone else said, this will haunt her for the rest of her life. Maybe she thought that by sharing her story, she would feel better about her decision? I don’t know. while I can’t agree with or sympathize with her concern about having twins, I am more at a loss for why she chose to share with the general public. That to me just shows her selfishness even more. She feels justified in her choice and thinks that others should agree with her?

My great grandmother gave birth to twins over 75 years ago and managed just fine. That was before baby bottles, formula and even store bought diapers(cloth even). And having twins was a true surprise at birth – no ultrasounds back then.

Photius

September 8th, 2010
11:19 am

So many people are writing “she is going to have a lot to deal with in the future”….. maybe not. Consider the number of people who are emotionally disconnected – women included. This woman made her choice past the age of 40….. I doubt she will have any regrets.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

September 8th, 2010
11:28 am

Jess — I never know what to expect. I thought you guys would slam her to ground and call her heartless and terrible and so many readers are just saying they’re not going to judge her — I never know what to expect.

TnT's Mom

September 8th, 2010
11:45 am

Those of us who are saying she will deal with this in the future are saying that because we feel we would think about this decision the rest of our lives. But I bet many of us wouldn’t have made the same choice as her anyway. good for her if it doesnt haunt her, but her actions will affect more than just her.

I don’t think she is heartless, I think she just made her choice to abort one baby based on a selfish reasoning of not wanting twins. In either of my pregancies, I didn’t really want twins either, but would have accepted it if that is what happened.

She was unwilling to accept the consequences of her actions of IVF.

Becky

September 8th, 2010
12:00 pm

I don’t want to judge her, I just don’t understand going thru IVF and only wanting one child..I also don’t understand her gripe about their ins. only paying for 3 trys.. Most ins. doesn’t even pay for one try, so why wasn’t she happy with her ins.paying for 3?

I guess coming from a family that has 4 sets of twins, I’ll never understand “reducing” by one..Like others said, I would think about this for the rest of my life..

catlady

September 8th, 2010
12:02 pm

Having worked with the results of supermultiple pregnancies due to assistive technology, I don’t think someone should be treated unless they can show several millions of dollars in the bank. With many of the supermultiple births, the taxpayers are on the hook for millions of dollars in care and educational costs. Not fair to anyone, and hard to see it as “God’s will.”

UF Mom

September 8th, 2010
12:08 pm

I’ll be heartless and do a little slamming!

The one word I can conjure up that can be printed is SELFISH. Selfish to insist upon a child that her spouse doesn’t seem to want and they can’t seem to afford. Selfish to take the life of an innocent child that she produced by accepting multiple embryos. Selfish to put her own desires above the needs a life she created and nurtured for a period of time.

Had a different hand of cards been dealt (her life was in danger/genetic defects that would lead to the child’s death), then I might find a shred of sympathy for her. But this is disgusting. Since she was already planning to carry a healthy child to term, she could have at least given the unwanted baby boy a chance to be adopted and live a happy life with a couple who would love and appreciate him.

She is a piece of trash in my eyes and I am confident she will have to answer for her heinous actions one day. I know I’m going to hug my infant son a little bit closer today. I am thankful that I do not have to wake up and look in her mirror every morning. By publishing this publicly, how does she think her daughter is going to feel years from now when she finds out her twin brother was discarded like garbage and it could have just as easily been her?!?!?!

TechMom

September 8th, 2010
12:25 pm

SELFISH! If they only wanted 1 more child they should have either adopted or found a way to do IVF and implant only 1 embryo (a round of IVF has to be cheaper than raising a kid, right?) But I guess that’s not as convenient as just getting rid of one of them. Guilt is cheap I guess. This woman says she doesn’t want to compare herself to someone who uses abortion as birth control but that’s exactly what she did. She’s blaming everyone else for a decision that she made and now she wants sympathy to alleviate her guilt (or just her 15 minutes of fame). I agree that the husband likely did not want ANY more children but was trying to appease his wife. Wonder how long that marriage will last?

Wonder how they’ll deal with the kids when they become inconvenient teenagers? Or how will this mom feel if something awful does happen to the two children she has now? Think she’ll regret her decision later?

Also, did anyone else notice how her husband didn’t want to move out of their 2 bedroom apartment if they were to have twins. Do you really think they’re going to stay there when they have a boy who is nearly 4 years older than his sister?

What a bunch of lousy excuses.

JJ

September 8th, 2010
12:35 pm

What if the one she aborted had gone on to do something wonderful in this world, and the one she opted to keep turned out to be a deadbeat……

JJ

September 8th, 2010
12:39 pm

Oh and the other thing that makes me mad about stories like this,,,,,I was unable to get pregnant for the longest time. We tried fertility, nothing. I just thought it was in the cards for me NOT to have children. Oh and it killed me to know that I was going through life with no child of my own. Then I thought about all those idiots who abuse their kids, abandon them, and I got really mad that they were allowed to have kids, and I wasn’t….

Therefore, I am so very thankful for my one and only child. As much grief as she has given me over the years, I would NOT change a thing. I will take the lip, the eye rolls, the “Mooooommmmm” any day. I thank my lucky stars I have a healthy child.

Like others, I will not judge, but there are so many women out there trying to get pregnant, and then you read an insipid story like this…..grrrr…it makes me very angry.

Cammi317

September 8th, 2010
12:49 pm

This is awful! It was bad enough that she did it, but then went on to justify it in print…. One day this woman is going to have to face her child and explain I killed your twin because I just didn’t feel like being bothered…