'I Only Wanted One': Selective Twin Reduction After IVF Is Just Wrong


Bettina Paige is a very good writer, so good and honest, in fact, that I almost forgot that her piece in the most recent issue of Elle was about the selective reduction of her pregnancy from two children to one.

Paige and her husband are in their early and mid 40's, are already parents to one three-year-old child and want only one baby. And yet, they make the inexplicable choice to go through IUI, knowing full well that it might result in more than one pregnancy.

She explains and rationalizes the decision -- She was older and needed the treatment to get pregnant, but twins were out of the question.

But no matter how many reasons she gave, I just could not believe that she would make a decision like that even knowing that there was not room in her life for more than one baby.

I wanted not to judge, but I struggled so hard as I read of her decision even knowing that if two implanted, twins were not a possibility. I struggled and I struggled and then I judged.

Yes, I judge her choice. And that fact makes me question the very fiber of my pro-choice being. I think women, even Paige, should be allowed to make these choices, but I strongly, strongly disagree (and judge) this one.

In fact, at one point in her piece, Paige says that had they been "natural" twins, she would feel that she could not selectively reduce because, according to her husband:

"Our twins weren’t part of God’s plan, he reasoned (or rationalized?). They were the product of artificial insemination." 

Wait, seriously? He said that?

I actually think she had more of a responsibility to these embryos, to these lives. Because she chose to make them and she chose to put them in her body. This was not some accident of nature, or some "oops honey, we forgot the condoms moment." This was a conscious choice on her part and I find it staggering how little both she and her husband regarded the lives the created.

Talk about playing God.

If this had, indeed, been a "natural" twin pregnancy, I would not have judged the decision to selectively reduce as harshly, but it was upsetting to me to read the story, written well by a seemingly loving and intelligent woman and hear how she rationalized choosing to create a life knowing that she would terminate it if it came to fruition.

I have to draw the line somewhere and apparently, this is where I do it.

What do you think of Paige's decision?

*Editor's Note: The headline says IVF but the writer went through IUI to become pregnant.

Image via surlygirl/Flickr


infertility, is it safe, tests & procedures, complications, emotions, miscarriage & loss, trying to conceive


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jeann... jeannesager

Twins run in my family, which was certainly on my mind when it came time to decide if we were going to try for number 2 or not. The risk of getting 2 AND 3 certainly played a role in our decisions.

piano... piano2897

It doesn't matter whether you implant the embryos or God does, it's still a human life.  Differing circumstances never make it right.  And I disagree with her husband saying that the twins weren't part of God's plan.  If He hadn't wanted her to have two babies, He wouln't have allowed both of them to implant and grow.  Couldn't she have given one up for adoption rather than kill it?

RanaA... RanaAurora

I think that if you're going to do IVF, and even implant ONE egg, you HAVE to realize that you can end up with more than one.  If you're going to do two eggs, you have to consider that it's almost like ASKING for more than one.

I am VERY pro-choice, and supportive of peoples' decisions to do what is right for them... but in this case, I can't do it.

If she only wanted one, no matter what, you inseminate eggs and grow them a little and implant... ONE.  Just one.

Or adopt.

Betha... Bethany2035

Yeah, I have to say I have a personal problem with this, and that's MY choice.  I am pro-choice, but that doesn't make me pro-abortion.

carowga3 carowga3

When that child grows up and learns he/she had a twin he/she will be upset there was a sibling they will never know. Will probably always grow up feeling like something is missing. That's how twins are. My husband is a twin. I have known a lot of twins in my life. One even lost their twin to a car accident years ago and he still feels an emptiness without his twin. All human life is in God's plans. I'm sorry, I will never be pro-choice.

TippyD TippyD

I feel that any type of fertility treatment is AMAZING!!  BUT any woman that  CHOOSES to use any form of fertility treatment needs to realize the odds of having multiples TRIPLES! even with the mildest form of fertility treatments! I think it was irresponsible what she did.

nonmember avatar Jen

Rana, I agreed with everything you said about IVF, in terms of how one can avoid having multiples. Just wanted to point out that the author of that article didn't use IVF. She had an IUI. There's no transfer of an embryo with an IUI, so there isn't a way to control how may eggs might be inseminated.

CafeS... CafeSasha

Ah, that is a good point, though it still does not change the principle of my argument. If you are doing fertility treatments, you have to be prepared for that possibility.

nonmember avatar SKL

This goes severely in opposition to my beliefs, on several levels.

But I will focus on this. A couple who think they need to / should have this much control over the timing and quantity of the lives they produce is not qualified to be a parent. Because raising a happy, healthy child is not about everything going the parents' way. It's about expecting the unexpected all day, every day. Which this couple obviously doesn't feel qualified to do.

If there is a God, I hope he takes pity on the child who has been "selected" to live and doesn't use the child to punish the parents for their arrogance and foolishness (not to mention murder). May the child be strong and brilliant enough to drive his parents up the wall every day of their lives.

Jesse... JessecaLynn

I have to say if you are doing fertility treatments then you know there is a risk of multiples.  To say be selective with what you get whether it be if you choose one or two, boy or girl, is still playing GOD with a child's life.  And who is to say that if she reduces her pregnancy that something won't go wrong with the baby that is left.  The process of selective reduction does have its own risks, and they could come out of the process with no children.

 I had twins the first time I got pregnant naturally.  I wanted another baby, and knowing the chance that we could have twins again did scare the dickens out of me.  We went in for our first ultrasound with our second pregnancy and I was measuring large, come to find out there was a second sac, although they couldn't determine if it was a blighted ovum or not, it stil made my heart stop.  If it was a viable child, there would be NO WAY I would selectively reduce my pregnancy. 

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