Struggling with Fertility, a Couple Aborts Healthy Twin Boys Because They Want a Girl

Maybe you’ve already read this disturbing article on about a presumably infertile Australian couple that announced this week that they have aborted healthy twin boys because they want to have a girl?

The unnamed couple already has three healthy boys.

They’ve been doing IVF treatments.

They had a baby daughter who died soon after birth.

Though we don’t know much about them, we know part of their story because they’re bringing their case to an Australian court. Sex selection is illegal in Australia but the couple is petitioning to try again.

If the Australians say no, they plan to come to America where, apparently, it’s okay to abort healthy fetuses in search of designer children.

According to Bonnie Rochman, who wrote the article:

“Since 2008, Victoria’s Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act has prohibited sex selection except in cases where it would allow parents to avoid transmitting a genetic disease. It’s legal — though still controversial in many circles — in the U.S., where pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PIGD) is used to separate XX from XY chromosomes for reasons of ‘family balancing.’”

If my mother-in-law had been pro-choice my husband would have been an abortion. She got pregnant when she was just 17 and had James when she was 18. We refused genetic testing with every pregnancy because I knew I couldn’t abort a fetus that my husband and I conceived in love. I’m not explaining this well. I’m pro-choice. I believe a woman has the right to choose whether to continue or terminate a pregnancy. I believe it’s better to abort than to bring an unwanted child into the world who won’t be well taken care of.

When I was in my early twenties in a long distance unhappy relationship I found out I was pregnant. I agonized over what to do. I was so ashamed. Suddenly there were babies everywhere and happy moms pushing strollers. I locked myself in my room for two days and couldn’t stop crying for weeks. Ultimately I chose to have an abortion. I’m not proud that I did that. If you write me hateful angry comments at the end of this post, I will not delete them. Instead, I’ll agree with everything awful you think about me for having made that mistake. Every year for years afterwards on a Friday in October I would get profoundly depressed. I still think about the life that could have been but wasn’t, and I still wonder, all these years later, if I made a mistake.

When my friend’s daughter got pregnant by mistake, the family came together to help her. Her daughter’s twenty-two and has a two-year-old. I’m not trying to romanticize their situation: it isn’t easy. But that little girl adds so much joy and light to the world. My friend gets to enjoy a grandchild while she’s still young and energetic. And the whole family has come together because of the birth of that baby.

When another friend told me in a cavalier voice that she got pregnant by mistake and didn’t want another child (she and her husband, who are quite well off, already had four) so she had an abortion, I felt my face go numb.

Then there’s the friend who gave a child up for adoption when she was 18. Later she aborted an unwanted pregnancy (due to a birth control failure). Today she feels worse about the abortion than she does about the adoption.

I’ve come to hope that abortion will only be used in the most extreme circumstances.

Whatever the reason for having one, I don’t think abortion is ever a good choice.

“This is so unhealthy and so very sad,” Tertia Albertyn who blogs at So Close and who underwent nine rounds of IVF before giving birth to healthy twins, wrote to me when I asked her what she thought of this situation. “Sad for those parents who are obviously not handling their grief very well at all. Sad for the sons who might feel they are not enough. Sad for the daughter who died. Sad for the future daughter who carries enormous weight of expectation. And sad for us IVF’ers who get associated with stuff like this.”

After her own struggle with fertility, Albertyn went on to start an egg donor and surrogacy program in South Africa. She, too, has suffered and grieved the loss of a child, as she details in her book about her journey to fertility.

“I dont think aborting a fetus is ever a ‘good’ idea,” Albertyn wrote. “Perhaps, under some circumstances it is necessary. However, I do believe there are bad reasons for aborting a fetus and the baby being the ‘wrong’ gender is a very, very bad idea. If what it is euphemistically called ‘family balancing’ is required (where you have three girls and you desperately want a son), there are ways to ensure that only the required sex embryos are transferred to the womb. This is known as PGD. You do this prior to implantation, not after.”

But Patricia Mendell, Co-Chair of the Board of The American Fertility Association and a licensed therapist specializing in infertility in New York City, says if you are pro-choice it’s unfair to judge a couple that decides to abort for any reason. “I deal with pregnancy loss all the time and it is devastating,” Mendell told me during a phone interview. “If you’re pro-choice, the question becomes what makes one decision okay but another not okay?”

Mendell believes couples undergoing fertility treatments should get a lot of counseling and talk through all of the possible outcomes before they begin. “The problem a lot of times, besides the financial cost of all of this, is there are a lot of different and difficult choices,” Mendell said. “There’s no one right choice. That’s what’s really really hard for people.”

Readers, what do you think? Was this couple justified in aborting healthy twin boys in their quest for a girl? Should they continue doing fertility treatments instead of adopting a daughter? If you are pro-choice, do you believe abortion is always justified? Can you be pro-choice and anti-abortion at the same time?

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on Friday, January 14th, 2011 at 9:31 am and is filed under rejecting modern medicine.
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