by Deacon Keith Fournier Catholic Online
On Friday December 10, 2010, an article written by Tom Blackwell appeared in Canada’s “National Post” entitled “When is Twins Too Many?” The article told the story of a couple who are part of a growing trend in Western culture:
“Like so many other couples these days, the Toronto-area business executive and her husband put off having children for years as they built successful careers. Both parents were in their 40s – and their first son just over a year old – when this spring the woman became pregnant a second time. Seven weeks in, an ultrasound revealed the Burlington, Ont., resident was carrying twins.
“It came as a complete shock,” said the mother, who asked not to be named. “We’re both career people. If we were going to have three children two years apart, someone else was going to be raising our kids. … All of a sudden our lives as we know them and as we like to lead them, are not going to happen.”
“She soon discovered another option: Doctors could “reduce” the pregnancy from twins to a singleton through a little-known procedure that eliminates selected fetuses – and has become increasingly common in the past two decades amid a boom in the number of multiple pregnancies. Selective reductions are typically carried out for women pregnant with triplets or greater, where the risk of harm or death climbs sharply with each additional fetus.
“The Ontario couple is part of what some experts say is a growing demand for reducing twins to one, fueled more by socio-economic imperatives than medical need, and raising vexing new ethical questions. Experts question whether parents should choose to terminate a fetus just because of the impact the child would have on their lives, and note that even more medically necessary reductions can trigger lifelong angst and even threaten marriages. The mother said the Toronto doctor who eventually did her reduction performs several a month.”
If you recoiled upon reading about this couple choosing to “reduce” – kill – their daughter or son it is because you still have a conscience. However, there is no moral difference between the choice of this couple and the willful abortions committed every day for any reason throughout all nine months of pregnancy in the United States of America and throughout the West. The action of taking the life of an innocent child in the womb is intrinsically evil. It also violates the Natural Law Right to Life making it a crime, even if the positive law of a nation fails to recognize the existence of that Right to Life.
The article interviewed a “counselor” who strives to “help” these parents. She explained she does so in “a nonjudgmental way.” She admits that the trend “saddens and scares” her, and asks, “Is this a healthy thing? We have to ask these questions: Where does it stop? When do children become a commodity?”
The woman who killed her child said she had “no regrets, and believes the option should be openly available to all parents expecting twins.” Here are her exact words, “I’m absolutely sure I did the right thing. I had read some online forums; people were speaking of grieving, feeling a sense of loss. I didn’t feel any of that. Not that I’m a cruel, bitter person … I just didn’t feel I would be able to care for (twins) in a way that I wanted to.”
Tom Blackwell spoke with a New York City obstetrician who has changed his views on performing such “reductions”. He has decided to expand his practice of selectively killing children in the womb, what he called the “procedure.” He explained, “In North America, couples can choose to have an abortion for any reason”. Blackwell ended the article noting how the killing of the children is accomplished, “Fetal reductions are most commonly conducted by inserting an ultrasound-guided needle through the mother’s abdomen and into the uterus, injecting a potassium chloride solution into the chosen fetus or fetuses, stopping their hearts.”
We probably do not want to consider what is really happening here just days before Christmas when we pause to remember the birth of the Child who changed the course of human history. However, we must do so if we ever hope to recover our National soul and respond to the meaning of the Holy Day we celebrate. The Incarnate Word of God became a human person, living life at every age and stage, in the real womb of a real mother. He is identified with every child, at every age and stage. “Selective Reductions” are targeted raids on children using chemical weapons to kill them. They are now entrenched in our current culture of death.
For example, they are a part of In Vitro fertilization. On June 20, 2008 the Vatican released an instruction called “the Dignity of the Human Person” which dealt with “Certain Bioethical Questions”. In the section concerning the deliberate destruction of embryos we read: “The fact that the process of in vitro fertilization very frequently involves the deliberate destruction of embryos was already noted in the Instruction Donum Vitae (The Gift of Life). There were some who maintained that this was due to techniques which were still somewhat imperfect. Subsequent experience has shown, however, that all techniques of in vitro fertilization proceed as if the human embryo were simply a mass of cells to be used, selected and discarded.
“It is true that approximately a third of women who have recourse to artificial procreation succeed in having a baby. It should be recognized, however, that given the proportion between the total number of embryos produced and those eventually born, the number of embryos sacrificed is extremely high. These losses are accepted by the practitioners of in vitro fertilization as the price to be paid for positive results. In reality, it is deeply disturbing that research in this area aims principally at obtaining better results in terms of the percentage of babies born to women who begin the process, but does not manifest a concrete interest in the right to life of each individual embryo.
“It is often objected that the loss of embryos is, in the majority of cases, unintentional or that it happens truly against the will of the parents and physicians. They say that it is a question of risks which are not all that different from those in natural procreation; to seek to generate new life without running any risks would in practice mean doing nothing to transmit it. It is true that not all the losses of embryos in the process of in vitro fertilization have the same relationship to the will of those involved in the procedure. But it is also true that in many cases the abandonment, destruction and loss of embryos are foreseen and willed. Embryos produced in vitro which have defects are directly discarded. Cases are becoming ever more prevalent in which couples who have no fertility problems are using artificial means of procreation in order to engage in genetic selection of their offspring.”
The killing of these “excess” children continues after implantation in the womb of their mother through this heinous procedure referred to as “selective reduction”. It is, in fact, selective execution. Children have become commodities.
In 1987, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued its important direction entitled “Instruction on Respect for Human Life in its Origin and on the Dignity of Procreation”. Among the questions it answered was: “What Respect is due to the human embryo, taking into account his nature and identity?” The answer given by the Magisterium: “The human being must be respected – as a person – from the very first instant of his (her) existence.”
Sometimes when Catholic writers like me quote Church sources, the proponents of calling the killing of children a “right” try to dismiss us by saying this is our “religious position”. The medical facts confirm what our consciences have always told us, that is when we still had consciences; the child in the womb is one of us, our neighbor. We now routinely intervene to operate on her when she is in need. We take 4d Ultrasounds of him and make our greeting cards with them. The child, from the moment of conception is, just like each one of of us, a human person in development. That development continues throughout life. Killing one of these children is killing our innocent neighbor. “Selective reduction” is simply one more example of Orwellian Newspeak.
Years ago I was involved in a new business venture. We built offices and invited guests to help us to dedicate them in prayer. One of the men with whom I was involved in the venture was an Evangelical Protestant leader. He shared some good news with our invited guests; his daughter was expecting her first child. Of course, everyone was happy. Then, without even pausing he told everyone present that she went through In Vitro Fertilization at a nearby clinic. I was appalled, knowing as I do that every In Vitro treatment results in “excess embryos” being killed and that “selective reductions” are often involved. Explaining that to him later was a difficult moment.
The Canadian counselor’s question was answered in the West long ago, “When do children become a commodity?” They became a commodity when their killing was legalized. The evil is covered over by deadly, loaded language like “selective reduction” and “choice”. As we pause to celebrate the Birth of the Author of Life, let us be resolved to ending the Culture of Death. It must be our first priority in the coming year. It is time for Catholic Action.