This Sunday’s Times magazine features a cover story so abhorrently evocative of the twin-culling conducted at Auschwitz—first by soldiers screaming “Zwillinge!” (twins) as families spilled out of the cattle cars onto the train platform, and later by the abomination Josef Mengele during his experiments on them there—that it’s hard, even for those who ferociously despise the herd-mentality snob-fest of opinion-peddling pretentiousness that is the New York Times, to swallow the idea that there wasn’t at least a minor insurrection against the editor of this journalistic treasure over his decision to publish what amounts to a eugenics-propaganda manual.
Is there one member of Jill Abramson’s religious order who views the subject of this article—“reduction to a singleton” for all those women who’ve spent their middle age and some not inconsiderable fortunes of money having intercourse with test tubes and basters in search of the perfect baby, but wish to avoid producing the inconvenient Zwillinge who seem more and more often to result, and fear the “chaos, stereophonic screaming and exhaustion of raising twins”; or, to put it in the native language some of us still speak, the killing in utero of one perfectly healthy twin so that women who are hormonally old enough to be grandmothers and way too irritable to be bearing children don’t have to sacrifice their peace of mind—as a piece of awfulness? Maybe not.
The child-killing advocacy is couched in the tender understatement of current reproductive-speak—“pregnancy reduction”; “ethical dilemma”; “moral equilibrium”; “choice revolution”; “two-to-one patients” “options”—but the euphemisms are plenty crude enough, and anyway the truth will out:
Consider the choice of which fetus to eliminate: if both appear healthy (which is typical with twins), doctors aim for whichever one is easier to reach. If both are equally accessible, the decision of who lives and who dies is random. To the relief of patients, it’s the doctor who chooses—with one exception. If the fetuses are different sexes, some doctors ask the parents which one they want to keep.
Until the last decade, most doctors refused even to broach that question, but that ethical demarcation has eroded, as ever more patients lobby for that option and doctors discover that plenty opt for girls. . . .
The doctors who do reductions sometimes sense their patients’ unease, and they work to assuage it. “I do spend quite a bit of time going through the medical risks of twins with them, because it takes away a little bit of the guilt they feel,” says [one] doctor.
“I still wonder,” says a 45-year-old twin-reducer. “Did we choose the right one? — even though I wasn’t the one who chose.
That idea, that one’s gone and one’s here, it’s almost like playing God. I mean, who are we to choose? Even as it was happening, I wondered what the future would have been if the doctor had put the needle into the other one.”
That “needle into the other one” is a legacy bequeathed to the editors of New York Times, to their authors, and to their readers by the great heroine of feminists, mother of Planned Parenthood, and eugenicist Margaret Sanger, by way of Josef Mengele. The casual, unquestioning linguistic capitulation to it is a kind of depravity, and not fit to print.