In an article entitled “The two-minus-one pregnancy,” published in The New York Times on Aug. 10, Ruth Padawer examined the case of Jenny, a mother of healthy twins, who had one of her babies aborted because she did not feel up to the responsibility of caring for two new infants.

How could any mother justify such lethal selfishness?

Jenny explained: “If I had conceived these twins naturally, I wouldn’t have reduced this pregnancy, because you felt 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.”

Jenny is not alone in feeling this way. In vitro fertilization – the creation of test-tube babies – undermines respect for the sanctity of human life. It fosters the perverse notion that babies are a commodity that can be created, abandoned or killed at will. For these reasons alone, the procedure should be banned.

As it is, pregnancy reductions are a commonplace aspect of in vitro fertilization. While the annual total is kept secret in Canada, some hospitals in the United States are not so shy. Mount Sinai Medical Centre in New York City has acknowledged that 101 pregnancy reductions were performed on its premises last year. In 61 of these cases, the pregnancy was reduced to a single baby; 38 began as twins.

Pregnancy reduction is a tricky undertaking. According to Padawer: “The procedure, which is usually performed around Week 12 of a pregnancy, involves a fatal injection of potassium chloride into the fetal chest. The dead fetus shrivels over time and remains in the womb until delivery.”

It is not just pro-lifers who are horrified by this grisly operation. Padawer reports that some otherwise implacable advocates of abortion on demand have serious qualms about pregnancy reduction for twins. Why is that?

Padawer wrote: “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 is the same either way: one fewer fetus.”

Chris Selley and Barbara Kay addressed this issue in a pair of columns published in the National Post on August 31. Selley, for his part, could not understand the fuss. Referring to pregnancy reduction for twins, he wrote: “To me, it doesn’t ‘seem’ more controversial at all.”

Such is the brutality of the abortion extremists who hold sway in Canada.

National Affairs Rory Leishman

Like most Canadians, Kay is neither consistently pro-life nor absolutely pro-abortion. She wrote: “Most of us condone abortion: In the first trimester; where there is risk to the mother; in cases of incest and rape; and for known, serious birth defects.”

It troubles Kay that most abortions in Canada are perpetrated only for the convenience of the mother. She insists that no reasonable person would call these abortions “necessary” and she especially deplores the increasing numbers of Canadian parents who choose to abort a girl simply because they prefer to have a baby boy.

Arguing that women “seeking abortions of healthy fetuses out of convenience or sexism” are not “patients” but “clients,” Kay concluded: “Clients have wishes; they do not have inalienable rights. When the wishes of clients run counter to society’s health, or other people’s natural rights – and by ‘people’ I include unborn babies who were viable before their skulls were surgically crushed – then regulation of the practice is not only admissible, it is desirable, and nobody should have to fear censure from powerful special interest groups for saying so.”

Good for Kay. With this statement, she stops just short of acknowledging the truth that all people, including unborn babies, have an inalienable right to life.

Let us hope and pray that people of good will like Kay will think through their muddled understanding of abortion to the only reasonable conclusion: Namely, that however much sympathy is owing to a mother in a really difficult pregnancy, abortion is a crime that can never be justified.