To my fellow humans who are entering that most precarious stage of human development.
Let me begin by congratulating you on making it through the embryonic stage. Too many of our fellow humans don’t even make it as far as you have now. Many died of natural causes. Others were cut down prior to implantation by an abortifacient. Still others are trapped in the freezers of IVF clinics, in suspended animation awaiting their fate.
You have made it to the second stage of life. But you’re not out of the woods, as they say, until you’re out of the womb. In America there are roughly 250 abortions for every 1,000 live births, which means that you have (all other things being equal) a one in five chance of still being aborted. Here are four reasons you might be aborted and what you can do to avoid this gruesome fate.
#1. Don’t be the unlucky third in series of IVF induced triplets
Many couples who are unable to have a child naturally because of infertility are willing to pay a high price (between $10,000 – $20,000) in order to bring a child into this world. However, some are a bit more cost conscious, and are willing to pay an extra cost in human life rather than in dollars.
To save money on in vitro fertilization, couples can implant several embryos at one time in order to increase the changes of pregnancy and reduce the cost of multiple procedures. Although it lowers the cost, it increases the chances of multiple pregnancies, which increase the risks to both mother and children. As the Washington Post noted several years ago, “Carrying three babies to term would more than double the woman’s risk of developing the most severe diseases of pregnancy, such as preeclampsia. The average triplet is born two months premature, significantly raising the risk of disabilities such as cerebral palsy and of lifelong damage to the infant’s lungs, eyes, brain and other organs.”
Unlike embryos, money can’t be created in a Petri dish. Which is why it is less costly (in economic if not in human terms) to just kill you rather than pay for another round of IVF. They euphemistically refer to this as “selective reduction”— your parents have selected to reduce your chances for survival to zero.
If you find yourself bumping into other siblings in the womb, you might hear a conversation similar to this one:
“Triplets,” [Sonographer Rachel] Greenbaum said.
“So they tell me,” the woman said, her voice hollow.
And, sure enough, on Greenbaum’s screen were three little honeycombed chambers with three fetuses growing in them. The fetuses were moving and waving their limbs; even at this point, approaching 12 weeks of gestation, they were clearly human, at that big-headed-could-be-an-alien-but-definitely-not-a-kitten stage of development. Evans has found this to be the best window of time in which to perform a reduction. Waiting that long provides time to see whether the pregnancy might reduce itself naturally through miscarriage, and lets the fetuses develop to the point where genetic testing can be done to see which are chromosomally normal.
Which leads us to step #2 for how to stay alive until birth:
#2 Don’t be anything other than “chromosomally normal”
May our Lord have mercy on your poor fetal soul if you have the misfortune to possess a chromosomal abnormality. Once you make it out of the womb you can be filled to the brim with bile — indeed you can rape, pillage, plunder, and murder — and you’ll have people defending your right to live. But right now if they measure the fluid behind your neck using a nuchal scan and discover you have too much— well, you’re as good as dead. Such a test reveals that you may have the unforgivable condition of Down syndrome.
Down syndrome itself is not an inherently fatal condition. Indeed, many children with this condition grow to become loving, sweet-natured, and gentle children. Such behavior, however, merely confirms that these children are freaks of nature since “normal” children do not act that way. Therefore, society has decided that it is better for you to be put to death rather than for us to have to suffer the cost and inconvenience of having to love such seemingly imperfect humans. Nothing turns our American hearts to stone faster than seeing the cheerful smile on a “mongoloid” visage. It’s a horror that we cannot tolerate.
#3 Don’t be a girl
Speaking of chromosomes, be sure you have a Y chromosome to go along with the X. If you have the misfortune of being of the homogametic sex you have an increased risk of being killed. It may not be a concern if your parents are white, black, or Hispanic. But if you’re parents are Chinese, Japanese, Indian, or Filipino you may be in trouble.
Of course, just because the sex ratio at birth for Asian Americans is biologically impossible does not mean that they are aborting baby girls. There may be some other reasonable, morally unobjectionable explanation for this unnatural phenomenon. Still, you’ll be better off playing it safe and getting that X chromosome.
#4 Don’t squint
Several years ago in England, doctors were given permission to create a baby free from a genetic disorder which would have caused the child to have a severe squint.
According to the Daily Telegraph, the license was granted by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) to Prof Gedis Grudzinskas. The good professor said he would seek to screen for any genetic factor at all that would cause a family severe distress.
When asked if he would screen embryos for factors like hair colour, he said: “If there is a cosmetic aspect to an individual case I would assess it on its merits.
“[Hair colour] can be a cause of bullying which can lead to suicide. With the agreement of the HFEA, I would do it.
“If a parent suffered from asthma, and it was possible to detect the genetic factor for this, I would do it.
“It all depends on the family’s distress.”
The good news is that this is not England, where doctors are granted a “license to kill” anyone who might end up looking like Clint Eastwood. The bad news is that this is America. Here a doctor can abort you for any reason at all. We believe in being pro-choice, which means that we respect a mother’s choice to kill you for cosmetic or other eugenic reasons. Therefore, you need to play it safe: when you hear the whirring of the sonogram machine, keep your eyes wide open.
There are other things that would increase your chances of making it through gestation. For example, if you are in the womb of a white 27-year old happily married Catholic woman who has never had an abortion and has a household income of $60,000+ a year, you are fairly safe. Unfortunately, while your parents can choose you — even choose to kill you — you can’t choose your parents.
Your best hope is to pray and hope that others are praying for you too. With any luck you’ll survive the fetal stage of development and move on to infancy, adolescence, and adulthood. Once you reach this stage of life you’ll be able to join other Americans in exercising one of our most cherished and incontrovertible rights: the right to kill a fetus for any reason you choose.
Re-printed from the Gospel Coalition Blog. Used by permission.
Other posts in this series:
Why Christians should care about bioethics
How Christians should think about bioethics
38 ways to make a baby
Eleventh Week Eugenics: On killing children with Down syndrome
Still in the world