David Ayers

One problem is what, if anything, to tell surviving twins later. No one knows the psychological consequences. One creative soul who had triplets “reduced” plans to have a discussion with her sole, surviving daughter. She will tell her about the “choices” women now have—a kind of “women’s liberation moment” for the survivor.

So just how did we get “two-minus-one pregnancies” in the first place? It started with an increase in large multiple-birth pregnancies (sextuplets and the like) caused, usually, by fertility treatment. Doctors often recommended, and performed, a lot of “pregnancy reduction” in such cases, but typically refused to do so beyond twins. However, some of these women demanded all but one baby be terminated, and some doctors went along. Meanwhile, those engaged in “pregnancy reduction” kept getting better at it. Soon the procedure was increasingly done on women who were just pregnant with twins in the first place.

So why would women pregnant with twins want to “minus” one? The main reasons cited in the Times article were “social” and “emotional”—not medical. Women want to avoid the stresses and deprivations of raising twins, often even construing their “choice” as an act of love that benefits both the terminated and surviving twin. As one proponent admitted, it is really about women exercising their freedom to “fashion their lives how they want.”

In the 1970s and 1980s, pro-choice activists ridiculed what they claimed were illegitimate “slippery slope” arguments made by pro-lifers about what moral horrors might be generated by an absolute right to abortion. We were told that Roe v. Wade would mainly allow freedom for the “hard choices” of desperate women; those hard choices would become increasingly rare as birth control became more effective and widely available. We now have countless women casually obtaining one abortion after another, and for all sorts of reasons. The newest reason is the “two-minus-one pregnancy.”

The slippery slope is here. And we are picking up speed.


David Ayers

Dr. David J. Ayers serves as Assistant Dean of the Alva J. Calderwood School of Arts and Letters, as well as Chair and Professor of Sociology, at Grove City College, where he has worked since 1996. He is also a fellow with The Center for Vision & Values. He completed his Ph.D. at New York University, his MA at American University, and his BA at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania.