I just finished reading this article in the Washington Post about the procedure termed "selective reduction". With all that I read about bioethics, it takes a lot to make me outraged. This article, and the entire thought process behind this procedure, has certainly done so. Let me make myself clear - between the tortuous reasoning that the Moms in the story use to justify killing their child, to the complete moral bankruptcy of the "physician" in the story, to the general acceptance of this procedure which is actually morally worse than most elective abortions, I am completely dumbfounded. We need no further evidence of the presence of evil in this world than allowing a physician to not only intentionally kill a child, but to justify doing so in order to preserve "life".
First, the we have to remember that the vast majority of these procedures are performed on women who have undergone IVF. In other words, these are not human beings that are the unintentional result of a sexual experience. These are children that were intentionally created and intentionally implanted into the mother, at great expense, I may add. Furthermore, if it is deemed that a woman can only safely carry two "kids" (a word the doctor used as he was killing one), than the option exists to only implant two embryos. In our quest to give parents exactly what they want, and to increase the "success" rate of the IVF clinic (who can then advertise that rate on the internet), we take an action which places a child at lethal risk.
Morally speaking, when you undergo an action which has known and predictable consequences that puts another human being at risk you have an obligation not to kill that human being that you have intentionally put at risk. This seems very straightforward, but it seems the practitioners of IVF and selective reductions, as well as the mothers who have consented to this procedure, believe that their desires (first to have a child, and then to have only the number they want) trump the life of another human being. And there is no mistaking from the article that both the doctor and the parents know exactly what they are killing.
I found it interesting that the doctor also considers himself a geneticist. His version of genetics allows him to weed out undesirable traits - like when a couple wants a boy and a girl. He also gets to seek for genetic anomalies - not to see which child he is going to kill (this decision has already been decided), but to make the parents feel better for killing a child with a handicap. This is the practice of eugenics without the nuance of Lebensunwertes Leben.
Unlike many of the girls and women who seek help at clinics like Jay's, who are often scared, young, and confused regarding their situation, these parents are seen in major medical centers with high-tech equipment and specialist physicians. They tend to be older and more affluent to be able to afford IVS. They may have suffered infertility problems for a while (which is very difficult). However, in their desire to have what they really want, they have placed themselves in a situation in which they and their children are in danger. Furthermore, their decision to intentionally kill one or more of their children in order to "fix" the situation they have chosen for themselves is barbaric, incredibly selfish, and very evil. The intentionality of the life that they brought into this world, as well as the callousness of how they choose to snuff it out, makes their "choice" a far more immoral one than most elective abortions. Our culture's tolerance of this procedure in some of our most recognized medical centers is extreme evidence that we have completely jettisoned moral obligation for our own desires. God help us.
Update: Amy Hall at Stand to Reason posts about the same article here.