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In her article, “Selective Reduction: ‘A Soft Cover for Hard Choices’ or Another Name for Abortion?,” Radhika Rao explores the dense thicket of contradictions and conflicts related to abortion and selective reduction. Selective reduction is one name for a procedure performed to terminate one or more fetuses in a multi-fetal pregnancy in order to increase the chances that the other fetuses and the pregnant woman will emerge from the pregnancy healthy. Though Rao, in keeping with some authorities, uses the terminology selective reduction in her piece, others prefer the term multi- fetal pregnancy reduction (MFPR) as more reflective of the procedure’s goals and practice. Competing monikers for the same procedure speaks to the importance of naming when discussing the termination of fetal life. It is also a sign of the array of legal, ethical, and medical conundrums surrounding practices that end or alter the course of a pregnancy.

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... Nonetheless, experts define the level of risk associated with a situation; however, the decision making remains in the hands of those who are: i) not experts; ii) emotionally involved; and iii) financially invested. In the case of fetal reduction, the decision rests with the parents, particularly females, who may have limited medical understanding and be influenced by their values, religious background, the efforts they have put into conceiving, and the social and cultural context in which they live (Britt and Evans, 2007;Mutcherson, 2015). These decisions are made in a short window of time and are associated with significant stress (Britt et al., 2002). ...
Today, across all aspects of societal living, risk assessment is an ever-present exercise. Pervasiveness of technology in the everyday life has caused the world of ‘risk’ to change tremendously, and this is particularly true for childbearing females. The social construction of pregnancy and childbirth as, arguably, medical events that necessitate medical intervention – ever more so for multifetal pregnancies – makes it almost impossible to avoid the notions of risk that surround the events. Drawing on semi-structured interviews with 41 mothers of twins or triplets, we investigate how understandings of risk, combined with the ideology of good motherhood and information provided by physicians impact perceptions of fetal reduction or termination. We have discussed and theorized empirical findings within the framework of risk, discourses of the responsibilization of females, and the potential ‘sacred child’ in a context where selective reduction becomes a potentiality.
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The incidence of multifetal pregnancy has increased dramatically with the introduction of artificial reproductive techniques (ART). These pregnancies are at high risk for maternal, perinatal and long-term complications, and embryo reduction (ER) has been used for a number of years in an attempt to improve these outcomes. In high-order multifetal pregnancies ER is associated with a decrease in the background risk of miscarriage and perinatal death, but there are some questions regarding the benefits of reduction in triplet pregnancies. The importance of preventative ethics, by restricting the number of embryos transferred or careful monitoring of ovulation induction agents is generally agreed upon. Regulation of treatment regimes coupled with refinements to ART, have reduced the rate of triplet- and higher-order multifetal pregnancies in the last few years. In this article, the moral status of a fetus is discussed and biomedical ethical principles are examined in the context of ER. In addition, religious considerations and medical guidelines are discussed.
Selective reduction and abortion both involve the termination of fetal life, but they are classified by different designations to underscore the notion that they are regarded as fundamentally different medical procedures: the two are performed using distinct techniques by different types of physicians, upon women under very different circumstances, in order to further dramatically different objectives. Hence, the two procedures appear to call for a distinct moral calculus, and they have traditionally evoked contradictory reactions from society. This essay posits that despite their different appellations, selective reduction and abortion are essentially equivalent. © 2015 American Society of Law, Medicine & Ethics, Inc.
A half century ago, American family lives did not differ markedly by class or region; children were born to married parents, shotgun marriages helped keep the nonmarital birth rate low, and women stayed home unless economics forced them into the workplace. In that era, the Utah Supreme Court cited New York cases in addressing non-marital cohabitation and family reforms that started in California swept much of the country in short order. While we know that our halcyon memories of those years cloak substantial conflict, we did sweep much of it under the rug; politicians, judges, religious leaders, and even family sit-coms in those years expressed remarkable agreement about family aspirations.
Another ‘Choice’ Raises Questions of Ethics, Morality-‘MFPR’ Sparks Debate
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Secretary of Health and Human Services, et al. v. Hobby Lobby Stores
  • Burwell
But does anyone who knows what “selective reduction” is - namely, a fatal injection of potassium chloride or digoxin into the heart of a baby in the 10th to 12th week of life - actually believe it's not an abortion?
  • J Jansen
  • R Pawder