Monthly Archives: August 2011

Coldhearted Calculus

by Marissa Poisson

One week ago, two major American newspapers published two very different stories. The Two-Minus-One Pregnancy examines the phenomenon of parents who select to “reduce” twins to singletons for mainly lifestyle considerations while How a D.C. area family with 11 children, ages 12 through 1, makes it work describes just that. The former features “Jenny” and her husband, who are “choosing to extinguish one of two healthy fetuses, almost as if having half an abortion,” though you can no more have half an abortion than you can be a little bit pregnant. (“Coin-toss abortion” is a more apt description, unless of course the parents are choosing one child over another based on their sex.) In the latter, we read about Jen and Larry Kilmer, who have welcomed their children one after another with open arms.

In reading one article after the other, I was struck by how it all came down to a matter of perspective. The parents electing to have a shot of potassium chloride injected into one or more of their healthy babies’ hearts in the article are financially stable, married and often did everything they could to become pregnant in the first place, but they want precisely one child to be born. Still, on one level they know what they are doing is wrong. “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,” says Jenny. But what does it mean to give everything you can to your children? “I feel very strongly that the best gift you can give a child is a sibling,” says Jen.

The first article states, “Whatever the particulars, these patients concluded that they lacked the resources to deal with the chaos, stereophonic screaming and exhaustion of raising twins.” Jen, on the other hand, says, “People are always asking, ‘How do you have time for yourself?’ But when you realize there’s more to life than yourself. . . I think time to yourself is overrated.” Even the author of the “reduction” piece, referring to her own situation, says, “There’s no doubt that life with twins and a third child so close in age has often felt all-consuming and out of control. And yet the thought of not having any one of them is unbearable now, because they are no longer shadowy fetuses but full-fledged human beings whom I love in a huge and aching way.” The crux of it is not the specific number of children in a family but rather that those “shadowy fetuses” are already fully human; they are the same individuals who elicit that huge and aching love.

Now that Jenny has subtracted one of her twins, she will be able to set aside twice as much money for the child who emerges from her womb alive, and it’s true that the Kilmers don’t have college funds for their children. But I have no doubt as to which family is richer. As Mother Theresa said, “It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.”

More articles on “selective reductions” here, here, here and here. To read them is to weep.

*New, heartbreaking article by a father who recently lost two of his triplets: The New Scar on My Soul

If Everything in the Garden is Sunny – Why Meddle?

by Theresa Stephenson

As I turned another page on my calendar this week, I saw how quickly this summer has slipped away and how swiftly autumn is approaching, and with it another school year at ol’ uOttawa. Throughout the summer, the team of uOttawa Students for Life has been in correspondence about plans for the coming year. To be honest, I wish I could say that I only looked at this year with excitement –another year to turn our campus upside down! To spread the wonderful pro-life message to anyone and everyone! To stand up for something and be heard!

But I’m ashamed to admit that that isn’t what I feel. I’m scared. I’m scared of the hostility that we will face. I’m scared of being ostracized. I’m scared of the pain that I’ll see. There are no two ways about it: abortion is uncomfortable. It’s touchy and it’s a sure fire way to get your peers upset.

There are times when I don’t understand why I’m in this group. Sure, I’ve made great friends in this club these past two years that I’ve been at uOttawa. Oftentimes though I wish I could be that stranger who sheepishly scurries past the club’s table and, maybe, timidly gives a thumbs-up and keeps walking. Why didn’t I join water polo?

But the thing is, it isn’t about me. It’s bigger than me and my own comfort zone. I’ll tell you right now, if this was about me I’d stay at home and read a good book.

This summer I was introduced to a new television series called Downtown Abbey based in 1912-1914 in England. A secondary storyline follows the youngest of three daughters who is avidly interested in the political movement of women’s suffrage. Certainly it is a noble cause, but when her father questions why she always finds such gloomy causes, she replies, “Because it’s the gloomy things that need our help. If everything in the garden is sunny – why meddle?”

And that’s why I don’t despair of our “gloomy cause.” It’s precisely what I need to be doing, no matter how uncomfortable I am or how desperately I want to give up because everything is not sunny in the garden. No, 300 babies are killed by abortion daily in Canada. Women are being sold a lie under the pretence of “women’s rights,” but instead of the freedom and liberty that they are promised they find only pain and sorrow.

Because of all this, I might not look to this school year with excitement. Instead, I look forward with trepidation at a long and laborious struggle to the day when abortion will be unthinkable.