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A Canadian Woman Chose To Get Rid Of One Twin While Pregnant. Could You Do That?

Wed, December 15, 2010 10:00am EDT by 52 Comments

An Ontario-based couple, both in their 40s, decided to “reduce” their pregnancy from twins to a single fetus through a procedure that is becoming more common.

A Canadian couple were thrilled to have been able to start a family in their 40s. They had just celebrated the first birthday of their son, earlier this year, when they discovered they were expecting again. Seven weeks later, their surprise turned to worry when an ultrasound showed the wife was carrying twins.

“It came as a complete shock,” the mother (who did not want to reveal her name) told the National Post. “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 liked to lead them, are not going to happen.”

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That’s why she and her husband made the difficult decision to “reduce” the number of babies she was carrying. At first their own doctor tried to tell them that the procedure was illegal and then attempted to convince the woman that she could afford to become a stay-at-home mom. Eventually they found a Canadian clinic that would do the procedure, and it was funded by Medicare.

Selective reductions are becoming more common as the number of multiple pregnancies increases, thanks in part to the success and popularity of fertility treatments like IVF. According to the mother, her Toronto doctor performs this procedure several times a month. New York-based obstetrician Dr. Mark Evans confirms that twins make up about 5 percent to 7 percent of the total reductions, which are typically performed between the ninth and 12th week of pregnancy.

How does it work? Doctors use ultrasound to guide a needle through the woman’s abdomen, into the uterus. They then inject a potassium chloride solution into the fetus or fetuses, which stops their hearts.

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“I am absolutely sure I did the right thing,” says the mother. “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.”

It seems that the economy is also increasing the demand for selective reductions, which raises some ethical questions. Should parents have the right to selectively abort some of their babies because of the impact that child may have on their current lives? “I do believe people should have the choice, given the cost of raising children today,” says the unnamed mother. “You want to be able to provide for your children… to give them the things they need to become the best adults they can become.”

Where do you stand on the issue, HollyMoms?

–Amy L. Harper

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