Mark Furler... If society is measured by its ability to protect its most vulnerable, surely we are failing.
Mark Furler... If society is measured by its ability to protect its most vulnerable, surely we are failing.

They call it selective reduction...

MEDICAL authorities call it 'selective reduction'. Others are calling it murder.

Either way, it's been one of the most talked about segments on Sixty Minutes in a long time.

Little wonder with the opening scene on Sunday night showing a large needle being put through the heart of a foetus.

The procedure, which involves the injection of potassium chloride, is being used where mothers who have multiple pregnancies only want to keep one or two of the children.

Sixty Minutes' described the procedure as the industry's 'dirty little secret'. I think they were being kind.

As the program explained, some want 'selective reduction' for lifestyle reasons  - they simply don't want to have to juggle having three children at once.

Others are doing it because they believe the risks associated with a multiple pregnancy are greater - both for the mother - and also for the children.

I came away wondering what the 'chosen' child would think if they ever found out their brother or sister was terminated by their mother.

While previously the practice had been advocated when there were a large number of pregnancies, now it is being recommended even when there are twins.

Dr. Mark Evans told US news site abc.com that reductions from twins to a single foetus now make up about 10% of procedures he performs in his office, and that number is slowly increasing.

He points out there is a 1 in 700 chance of cerebral palsy with a single birth, but 1 in 100 with twins.

But how many parents of those born with disabilities would choose to  kill their child if they had known before birth?

And what about the right of the 'other child' to have a chance of a healthy, fulfilling life with a sibling.

This practice has been around since the 1980s - yet very few of us have heard about it - nor have there been any major protests.

If society is measured by its ability to protect its most vulnerable, surely we are failing here.

The line in the sand has not only been crossed, it's been obliterated.



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