The disturbing trend of ‘pregnancy reduction’ – where one baby in a twin pregnancy is aborted – has been highlighted by a cover story in The New York Times Magazine.
‘Pregnancy reduction’ was first controversially proposed as a means of cutting multiple births arising from IVF.
But demand from parents for their twins to be reduced to a single baby has grown steadily in recent years despite their being “no medical justification” for the procedure in a normal twin pregnancy.
The procedure, which is usually performed around twelve weeks into a pregnancy, involves administering a lethal injection to the child.
Ruth Padawer, writing about the subject earlier this month, recounted the story of a woman named Jenny who opted to undergo a reduction after conceiving twins.
Jenny said: “Things would have been different if we were 15 years younger or if we hadn’t had children already or if we were more financially secure.”
Even among those who are not opposed to abortion there is disquiet about the practice.
Dr Ronald Wapner, one of the pioneers of pregnancy reduction, began practicing the procedure in the 1990s while in Philadelphia.
However after he was confronted about the practice by a long-standing colleague, Dr Wapner called a meeting to ask his staff how they felt about ‘reducing’ twins. They were all uncomfortable with it.
Dr Wapner, who is now the director of reproductive genetics at Columbia University Medical Centre, said: “There’s no medical justification in a normal twin pregnancy to reduce to one.”
Last year it emerged that dozens of women were aborting their children after having IVF to conceive them.
The figures, from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), show around 80 abortions a year are carried out on women who conceived by IVF.