Wednesday, May 23, 2007

"Selective reduction"

One of the moral issues that the acceptability of abortion has occasioned results from pregnancies involving multiple fetuses when the parents would prefer fewer. GetReligion has posted a long report on the issue quoting from a recent Washington Post story on the subject. Among other moral problems, including abortion itself, is that of choosing which of the fetuses to keep and which to discard. Too many girls? Fetal abnormalities? What are the acceptable criteria?

The "selective reduction" process itself is described in the article:
And, sure enough, on [sonographer Rachel] Greenbaum’s screen were three little honeycombed chambers with three fetuses growing in them. The fetuses were moving and waving their limbs; even at this point, approaching 12 weeks of gestation, they were clearly human, at that big-headed-could-be-an-alien-but-definitely-not-a-kitten stage of development. Evans has found this to be the best window of time in which to perform a reduction. Waiting that long provides time to see whether the pregnancy might reduce itself naturally through miscarriage, and lets the fetuses develop to the point where genetic testing can be done to see which are chromosomally normal. . . .

So far, there was nothing anomalous about any of the fetuses. Greenbaum turned the screen toward the patient. “That’s the little heartbeat,” she said, pointing to the area where a tiny organ was clearly pulsing. “And there are the little hands. There’s the head. The body.”

“Oh, my God, I can really see it!” the patient cried. “Oh, my God! I can see the fingers!”

“Okay!” she said, abruptly, gesturing for the screen to be turned away. She began sobbing. There were no tissues in the room, so her husband gave her a paper towel, which she crumpled to her face. The patient spent the rest of the procedure with her hospital gown over her face, so she would not see any more of what was happening.
Two doctors describing the process:
“It’s a very hard procedure, because the baby is moving, and you are chasing it. That is what is very emotional — when the baby is moving and you are chasing it. ....

Evans plunged the second needle into Emma’s belly. “See the tip?” he said, showing the women where the tip of the needle was visible on the ultrasound screen. Even I could see it: a white spot hovering near the heart. D was moving. Evans started injecting. He went very slowly. “If you inject too fast, you blow the kid off your needle,” he explained.
"...the kid..."

Sources: GetReligion: We call it "selective reduction," Washington Post: Lisa Mundy: Too much to carry?

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