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Calvin Freiburger

The Degradation of Human Life Marches On

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Posted on July 28 2010 4:00 pm
Hailing from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Calvin Freiburger is a political science major at Hillsdale College. He also writes for the Hillsdale Forum and his personal website, Calvin Freiburger Online.

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Science fiction of today, or family planning of tomorrow?

Some of our greatest leaders have observed that we “cannot diminish the value of one category of human life ‘without’ diminishing the value of all human life,” a truth that is driven home in Danielle Friedman’s chilling new Daily Beast column, which explores the phenomenon of women who abort not unplanned babies, but babies they expressly sought through in vitro fertilization:

Despite early ambivalence about motherhood, when she reached her forties, Sarah decided she wanted a baby. She embarked on the often long, arduous process of in vitro fertilization—and conceived, using a donor egg. But as the pregnancy progressed, she felt less sure of her decision, her reservations growing with the embryo inside her. She realized that she didn’t want to be a parent, after all. So she got an abortion.

While several years have passed since Sarah (not her real name) solicited the New York University Fertility Center, her case stands out to Dr. James Grifo, director of the clinic, as the only instance of abortion after IVF he’s seen in his 22-year career. “You can’t always know how you’ll feel, until you’re there,” he told The Daily Beast.

Other fertility specialists across the U.S. recall similar stories, those rare exceptions to their usually extraordinarily grateful-to-be-pregnant patients. There was the woman who became pregnant with twins and felt unexpectedly overwhelmed, leading her to terminate. The anorexic woman who broke down when her stomach began to expand. The even rarer cases of parents who weren’t satisfied with their baby’s sex.

Reexamining the data after a shocking Times of London report suggests the phenomenon is still rare, but it won’t be for long if the mentality that enables it is allowed to continue unchallenged. Friedman reveals that even some pro-choicers are uncomfortable with the idea of aborting in-vitro babies:

Do women who become pregnant through IVF relinquish their pro-choice prerogative to some degree? Most pro-choicers say choice is choice, and no mother should be forced to have a baby. But some see shades of grey. “There’s a strong argument that they are [more responsible for carrying the baby to term],” says Dr. Josephine Johnston, a bioethics research scholar at the Hastings Center […] in the wake of the Times article, many bloggers and activists took the stance that the means by which a woman becomes pregnant shouldn’t impact her right to have an abortion, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America agrees. “A woman who has become pregnant using in vitro fertilization (IVF) is no different from a woman who becomes pregnant any other way,” Dr. Vanessa Cullins, the organization’s vice president for medical affairs, wrote to The Daily Beast.

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