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Published: April 26, 2012 4:46 am to Medical News

When killing your child is called “pregnancy management”

Dr. Mark I. Evans is known around the world for his work in genetics, prenatal screening and diagnosis, and the selective reduction of pregnancies. Of course, “selective reduction” is code for the choosing and killing of one or more babies in a multiple pregnancy. You don’t reduce children – you kill them. But Dr. Evans prefers to refer to this procedure as “pregnancy management.”

Which of these babies would "pregnancy management" or "selective reduction" kill? Photo credit: Anthony J on Flickr

He admits that, in the first reduction he performed, he “stabbed two of the fetuses with a needle.” Today, the general technique – and the one used by Dr. Evans – is plunging a needle filled with potassium chloride into the heart of the targeted baby. Soon after the chemical enters the baby’s heart, the baby ceases to move; her heart has stopped. Some babies move around for a short time before finally succumbing to their sudden deaths, but potassium chloride is deadly, and the procedure, accurately done, is unsurvivable.

When you read about Dr. Evans, it’s obvious that his years spent stopping the hearts of “thousands” of babies who had the misfortune of being multiples have calloused him. Yes, he may be one of the “experts.” He may be one of the few in his field freely willing to discuss the ethics of selective reduction, or “pregnancy management.” But it’s clear that Dr. Evans has fallen down a slippery slope. As the years go by, his standards fall lower and lower.

For example, Dr. Evans states that he once refused to even consider gender in the selection of which babies would live and which would die. Now, however, his list of considerations, in order, is this:

1. A documented abnormality

2. Suspicion and concern, such as smaller crown-rump length or larger NT or MZ twins

3. Other technical factors of serious concern

4. If nothing else matters, then we can consider gender differences.

His article, written in “ViewPoint,” continues:

The last criteria [sic] is new and was added only in the past several years, as there is now balance in gender preferences rather than the previously seen male dominance. For couples reducing to twins, the most common preference is for one of each gender, and for those going to a singleton, more than half want a girl.

So basically, all things being equal, it’s perfectly fine to kill your boy simply because you want a girl or vice-versa. In Dr. Evans’ mind, gender has become a very valid reason to stop the beating heart of a tiny baby.

In addition, back in 2007, Dr. Evans told the Washington Post how he once refused to reduce twin pregnancies to singletons. But even five years ago, he had changed his mind. His reasoning?

Evans has written articles arguing that it is ethical to reduce a twin pregnancy. After all, he said, if it’s okay to reduce from one to none — that is, if you support abortion rights — then two to one should be okay, too. The idea is still controversial. “Twenty years ago, the ethical debate was with triplets. But now, as far as I’m concerned, there is no doubt about triplets, and the ethical debate has moved to twins.”

Dr. Evans himself seems to admit the slippery slope. If it’s okay to kill some babies, it soon becomes okay to kill any babies.

The Washington Post’s 2007 article also highlights comments from Dr. Evans’ sonographer, Rachel Greenbaum. She struggles with the “pregnancy management” she takes part in (emphasis mine):

“I don’t particularly like doing the reductions,” she said. “I find it very stressful. With every patient, I think, If it was me, what would I do? Some of these people tried to get pregnant for the past five years and prayed to God. And now that they are pregnant, they are telling God: You gave me too many. I sometimes feel like we are playing God, and that is very emotionally stressful.”…

“It’s a very hard procedure, because the baby is moving, and you are chasing it. That is what is very emotional — when the baby is moving and you are chasing it.” 

According to Dr. Evans’, the best time to “manage” a multiple pregnancy is at 12 weeks. BabyCenter describes what a baby this age is doing:

The most dramatic development this week: reflexes. Your baby’s fingers will soon begin to open and close, his toes will curl, his eye muscles will clench, and his mouth will make sucking movements. In fact, if you prod your abdomen, your baby will squirm in response, although you won’t be able to feel it…..

Meanwhile, nerve cells are multiplying rapidly, and in your baby’s brain, synapses are forming furiously. His face looks unquestionably human: His eyes have moved from the sides to the front of his head, and his ears are right where they should be. From crown to rump, your baby-to-be is just over 2 inches long (about the size of a lime) and weighs half an ounce.

Even the writer of the Washington Post article, who witnessed reductions in Dr. Evans’ office, calls these babies “clearly human.” While some, like Dr. Evans, like to justify selective reduction based on their claims that it is not abortion (because they are not ending the entire pregnancy) and that it increases the remaining babies’ odds of survival, there are several problems that are not addressed. Of course, while a reduction of twins to a single baby may increase one baby’s chance of survival – from 92% to 97.5%, based on Dr. Evans’ numbers – the one baby killed has his survival rate plummet from 92% to 0%. Don’t tell me that’s in the best interest of saving human life.

1) Disabilities: Dr. Evans (and others like him) see nothing wrong with ending the life of a baby simply because he or she has a genetic condition or disability. Even the fact that triplets have an increased chance of being born with cerebral palsy (a condition that typically has a normal life expectancy and that often does not take away a person’s ability to care for themselves) is justification. A mere chance of being disabled is used to rationalize away an unneeded killing.

2) Fertility Treatments: Even in 2007, Dr. Evans admitted that 75% of his selective reduction patients had undergone IVF. That’s not even mentioning the other fertility treatments out there. IVF and fertility treatments must be reined in if we are to stop this unnecessary slaughter of the innocent. Fertility doctors should refuse to implant so many babies at once. Parents should refuse to allow this. Selective reduction – the killing of multiples – would almost never occur if it were not for out-of-control fertility treatments. This must stop.

Pro-lifers need to take three steps of action. First, we need to speak out about “selective reduction” and “pregnancy management” and call it for what it is: the killing of innocent babies, just like abortion. Second, we need to keep talking about the value of every life – disabled, genetically sound, or not. We need to bring to light all the things that people with Down Syndrome, spina bifida, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, and the rest can do as well as all the advances that have been made for them today. (For a great example, look at Gianna Jessen, an abortion survivor born with cerebral palsy.) Finally, pro-lifers need to speak out about the immorality of the current fertility treatment system. No doctor should have the right to implant so many babies that will just be killed. No parent should have that choice. It’s time we reformed our fertility system.

About Kristi Burton Brown

Kristi Burton Brown is a pro-life attorney, volunteering for Life Legal Defense Foundation and also as an allied attorney for Alliance Defending Freedom. She enjoys being a stay-at-home mom, and is married to the amazing David Brown. Together, they have the cutest two kiddos in the world! Kristi loves her Savior, Jesus Christ, speaking out for the truth, reading historical fiction, scrapbooking, politics, and cooking.

She also has her own blog at: www.thelostgenerations.wordpress.com


View all posts by Kristi Burton Brown

  • http://twitter.com/MarauderTheSN Marauder

    My parents spent ten years trying to have a baby – I’m their only living child – and during that time, they looked into IVF. My mom wanted to know if the doctors could create, say, two embryos and implant both of them; the doctors told her that they would only do IVF if they could make a whole bunch of embryos, freeze some, and implant at least a few at a time. My mom found it extremely offensive that they would only consider helping her have a baby if they could put their own agenda on her eggs and body. She and my dad didn’t do IVF because they weren’t about to create a bunch of embryos only to let them die.

    • Kristiburtonbrown

      Wow, that’s messed up.  Your parents were right.  They are exactly the kind of people this world needs!  May God bless them!  It’s so wrong for doctors to impose their own opinions on people.  I know there are doctors today who will only implant one or two babies, but I’m not sure how widespread it is.

      • notimportant

        Agree with Kristi, that is sick! Good on your parents to have a proper sense of decency!

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=681473501 Clarissa Masnaghetti

        Even in procedures where they only implant a couple they fertilize many.  These embryos are frozen for a time and then discarded when the couple has decided they are done having children.  If they would only fertilize those they were going to implant I would be okay with IVF, as it stands it is far too cost prohibitive to fertilize in pairs so you are always – to my knowledge - going to have embryos discarded in the end.

  • Jason Saylor

    this article brought tears to my eyes. With 2 teens, a one year old and one on the way I can not “FATHOM” even the slightest thought of hurting them with any intention…. this is truly sickening….We absolutely need to be making a stand for these children.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Hannah-Abbott/100001145910796 Hannah Abbott

    Of course these people are changing the words. . .the “choice” fraud is over.  I agree it is a CHIOCE. . . .to kill or not to kill. .  .yes, it is a choice. . .  .it was nonsense

    and now we have the “pregnancy management” and “selective reduction”. .  . how about “MURDERING a child?”

    From liberals.  . .to progressives. . .back to liberals.  … ..back to progressives. . .. ..let’s call these people what they ARE, Communists.. .. .. .filthy rotten lazy communist.

    How about taking your weath distribution and baby killing and just go away. .. .YOUR 15 minutes are over. . .bye bye

  • Brittany Fegley

    I’m pro-life. But when you guys post comments like this think of how the women feel that HAVE aborted their children. We have no right to judge. If its your life, and your decisions. Make the one you want. But, just don’t put those down for the choices they made that they thought/are right. 

    • Elise77

      The position you just articulated is pro-choice, fyi.

      If you believe (as we do) that an unborn child is, by every definition of the word, a human being, then abortion IS murder. It doesn’t matter what someone “feels” about it. If you’re personally opposed to abortion, you need to ask yourself why. Because if abortion is not the actual murder of an actual human being, then there is no reason for your opposition to it, personally or otherwise. If it IS, then there is no justification whatsoever for allowing it to occur.

  • Faith Ledlow

    Wow. This article truly hits home. I also underwent fertility treatments. The first time got one and the 2nd twins. I was offered “selective reduction” and it made me cringe. They said they HAD to tell anyone that conceived more than one about it. God gave me those children I so longed for and to even consider it was like slapping Him in the face! I’m 100% prolife and abortion is wrong no matter what the situation. Your life changes so much after children. In a wonderful way. Never knowing that u could love these little people soo much. No I must say that after my 2 pregnancies and 3 beautiful boys God gave me the last gift unexpectedly and without fertility. My beautiful little girl!! I’d dreamed of a girl forever and He knew it. She was given on His time not mine. My twins were only 4 months old. So u never know. Please don’t kill ur sweet babies.

    • Hermanamindy

       So many people wish they could have twins, the doctors are absolutely insane for even recommending aborting one of them. Even from their pro-abortion standpoint, I don’t see how they could consider having twins as being a risky pregnancy. Woman have been having twins since the beginning of time with only midwives to help them. It seems those doctors are very ignorant.

  • Hermanamindy

    It used to be that having multiple babies was considered the greatest blessing. I remember while growing up, hearing the adults talking about hoping to have twins or even triplets. My husband and I both have twins in our families, and we were hoping to have twins of our own; it never happened, but we would have wanted it to happen. I can’t believe that anybody would want to have only one baby instead of multiples if they were blessed enough to actually be able to conceive multiples in the first place. It isn’t that common of an occurance and with so many people who wish they could have multiples, you would think those fortunate enough to conceive them, would appreciate it. 

  • Rjd7703

    Being a mother of a Turner Syndome and HLHS baby girl Angel meaning she died 19hrs and 34mins after her birth…the doctors were insistent on my aborting her but that wasn’t an option for me. I am thankful I got to have her as long I had her and am thankful the doctors could learn how to help other babies like her with our decision of donating her to science…no regrets…it’s genocide to take things in your own hands like this…and if the doctors convince you otherwise and after its all said and done you don’t believe me…then you are a cold hearted idiot who for great reasons you could not conceive in the first place without scientific intervention…stop playing God and being a control freak…trying to control of what you were prevented from having in the first place for obvious reasons because your selective and predjuduce against the Gifts you would have been given if you had a different mind set in the first place!

  • Ashleybabykylan4

    how cud a person have da nerv to chase a baby  wit a needle jus to kill it? money must b nice cuz its jus sick

  • Troy

    Makes a grown man want to cry. It’s inhumane and brutal. Thank you for the reminder and your continued work Kristi.

  • THETABBYLADY1980

    well i belive that its up to god who should have a baby and who shouldnt . this really upsets me to no end . how could you kill a baby .. you should keep your leggs closed and your thing in your pants.. its not the babies that need to be killed its the ones that are killing the babies … there are so many ways not to to keep it from happening … and you are NOT GOD…

    • http://twitter.com/MarauderTheSN Marauder

      IVF is problematic in that it leads to the destruction of embryos, but saying that “it’s up to God who should have a baby and who shouldn’t,” to imply that there’s something wrong with fertility treatments as a whole, basically tells people who were conceived that way that God didn’t really want them to be born. I was conceived through artificial insemination (I’m the biological child of both my parents) and when I was a kid and I found out, I got very upset because I thought it meant my very existence wasn’t what God wanted. Imagine being a nine-year-old who thinks God doesn’t love her before you imply that infertility treatments are against the will of God.

      Also, some people have fixable biological problems that make them unable to conceive. My mom had an aunt who never got her period even once and, as a result, never had children. If that happened to someone now, they’d be given hormone treatment to start menstruation and might have no problem getting pregnant after that. Back then, people might have taken it to mean that it wasn’t God’s plan for my mom’s aunt to ever have a baby.

      • ken624

        God gave us all wonderful talents to be be able to discover new ways to live our lives, that said, I feel the ends does not justify the means and we need to pursue science that is moral and does not kill human life nor deny the dignity of basic human rights (including the basic right to life) in order to receive the end goal.

      • ken624

        God gave us all wonderful talents to be be able to discover new ways to live our lives, that said, I feel the ends does not justify the means and we need to pursue science that is moral and does not kill human life nor deny the dignity of basic human rights (including the basic right to life) in order to receive the end goal. but just to add, that doesn’t mean that good does not come out of our wrong human decisions, as people tell me all the time I shouldn’t be alive as a product of my mother being raped at 12. Glad she decided for life and gave me to a wonderful family.

  • DrewB04

    My only question is why the title Doctor,your a goddamn killer.

  • Mrblackwood2u

     Help save a life! I made this video to encourage expecting parents to save their child. Please forward. If it saves one innocent life it is the most important thing we can do today.

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  • Ashley

    How could anyone even have killing one of their babies as an option. How do they handle looking at the surviving babies knowing they killed their brother or sister? I just don’t get it.