This week’s New York Times Magazine’s lead story, “The Two-Minus-One Pregnancy,” was about yet another tragedy of our culture of reproductive control. “For all its successes,” the article points out, “reproductive medicine has produced a paradox: in creating life where none seemed possible, doctors often generate more fetuses than they intend.” In this case, 45 year-old Jenny was pregnant with twins through the use of in vitro fertilization (IVF). Sadly, controlling when and how she got pregnant provided license to abort one of the twins:
If I had conceived these twins naturally, I wouldn’t have reduced this pregnancy, because you feel like if there’s a natural order, then you don’t want to disturb it. But we created this child in such an artificial manner — in a test tube, choosing an egg donor, having the embryo placed in me — and somehow, making a decision about how many to carry seemed to be just another choice. The pregnancy was all so consumerish to begin with, and this became yet another thing we could control.
Aborting one twin over another is not rare in the U.S. As the article points out:
No agency tracks how many reductions occur in the United States, but those who offer the procedure report that demand for reduction to a singleton, while still fairly rare, is rising. Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, one of the largest providers of the procedure, reported that by 1997, 15 percent of reductions were to a singleton. Last year, by comparison, 61 of the center’s 101 reductions were to a singleton, and 38 of those pregnancies started as twins.
God makes every human being in his image, after his likeness. And he did give us authority to tend and care for the natural world (Genesis 1:26-27). But when we ignore the sanctity of human life and usurp his authority, people often die.
C. S. Lewis understood the temptations of our power over the natural order, including human reproduction. In The Abolition of Man, he famously said:
What we call Man’s power over Nature turns out to be a power exercised by some men over other men with Nature as its instrument.