Abortion Version 2.0

4 10 2011

I rarely like getting into a debate, let alone a discussion, about abortion, particularly in a political context. The discussion is usually misguided by both sides being so parochial and entrenched in their views that they fail to even pause to listen. But technology has developed so far that it has taken abortion discussion to a new level. Ruth Padawer writes her NY Times Magazine article titled, “The Two-Minus-One Pregnancy” on the new option of “reducing” a multiple pregnancy to either twins or in some cases one, also called a singleton. The article explores the different circumstances and the motivations that parents struggle with in making such a decision. One parent’s motivation to undergo the reduction procedure was the following:

Jenny’s decision to reduce twins to a single fetus was never really in doubt. The idea of managing two infants at this point in her life terrified her. She and her husband already had grade-school-age children, and she took pride in being a good mother. She felt that twins would soak up everything she had to give, leaving nothing for her older children. Even the twins would be robbed, because, at best, she could give each one only half of her attention and, she feared, only half of her love. Jenny desperately wanted another child, but not at the risk of becoming a second-rate parent. “This is bad, but it’s not anywhere as bad as neglecting your child or not giving everything you can to the children you have,” she told me, referring to the reduction. She and her husband worked out this moral calculation on their own, and they intend to never tell anyone about it. Jenny is certain that no one, not even her closest friends, would understand, and she doesn’t want to be the object of their curiosity or feel the sting of their judgment.

In a way, Jenny’s desires seem respectable, she wants to be a good parent. Sure, I guess you can even say that knowing your limitations is a good thing and being fiscally responsible is good. And many, particularly those against abortion, would ask, “But at what cost?” The answer to that question would not only be “A life” but also “at the cost of being a good parent”. Jenny would fail at her desire even before she begins if/when she has this fetal reduction. The essence of being a good parent, as the younger generations seem to have forgotten, is giving and sacrifice. And it is utter selfishness, covered in the guise of “wanting to be a good parent”. The fears of failing to be a good parent hidden behind a false morality. Later in the article Padawer points out:

What drives that decision is not just concern over the quality of life for the future child but also the emotional, financial or social difficulty for parents of having a child with extra needs. As with reducing two healthy fetuses to one, the underlying premise is the same: this is not what I want for my life.

“MY LIFE”…. The essence of morality is not in keeping the rules or breaking them. Sure, that is involved, but at the core is the phrase curvatus in se. Coined by St Augustine it means “turning in on oneself” and this is the essence of immorality, and anyone who gives “wanting to be a good parent” as a reason for fetal reduction, ultimately cares only for oneself and falls right into the category of immorality. For a more professional analysis of the morality here is Albert Mohler’s post on Padawer’s article.

Abortion, which is what this ‘reduction’ is, is never just an issue where one can pound the rights and wrongs into another person’s mind, and this ‘reduction’ issue is the same. Underneath all this discussion of ethics and morality is our view of choice that seems to fall outside of ethic or morality. This is where, in part, the root of the problem is. “Choice” to an American is sacred ground. That is our first folly and the beginning of this (and many other) slippery slope of morality. Padawer quotes Josephine Johnston, a bioethicist at the Hastings Center in NY,

In an environment where you can have so many choices, you own the outcome in a way that you wouldn’t have, had the choices not existed. If reduction didn’t exist, women wouldn’t worry that by not reducing, they’re at fault for making life more difficult for their existing kids. In an odd way, having more choices actually places a much greater burden on women, because we become the creators of our circumstance, whereas, before, we were the recipients of them. I’m not saying we should have less choices; I’m saying choices are not always as liberating and empowering as we hope they will be.

Not only does the increase of choices increase burden and stress, but we need to see what we are doing with our choices that is so ethically unacceptable. Included in selfishness and Augustine’s concept of curvatus in se is modern people looking to change our circumstance, through technology in this instance, instead of changing ourselves and our desires. Responsibility AND maturity involves knowing how to change oneself and not merely the circumstance (This is not to say that in vitro fertilization in itself is bad).  Irresponsible people never want to face the consequence of any of the circumstances they are in, regardless of whether it is welcomed or not, whereas, responsible people know that desires and wants fall under the rubric of ethics and morality. This frightening issue really begs one to wonder not just about the state of the American moral fabric, but the maturity level of the average American. It makes one wonder about the wisdom of cultures that had an extensive ‘rite of passage’ into adulthood instead of just getting a driver’s license. But to this whole situation, I believe there is a bit of a solution. A solution that is not easy to swallow or even to implement but one that satiates our desire to have children and can make the issue of abortion moot. That solution? Adoption. Think about it.




2 responses

4 10 2011

I always read you entries expecting one topic to be analyzed only to find out that they are really caused by a deeper problem within our sin nature, looking past the symptom and at the disease. It’s good.

The suggestion at the end was a nice touch, possibly a point to expound upon later…

4 10 2011
Paul Park

Thanks for the comment, Joon.

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