It’s the Silly Season, a/k/a Pickled Gherkin Summer, so Slate looks to harvest pageclicks with a “special issue” on The Rise of the Twins. Complete with a scienterrific article on the “skyrocketing” increase in the rate of (surviving) multiple births:
According to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention the U.S. twin rate has skyrocketed from one pair born out of every 53 live births in 1980 to one out of every 31 births in 2008. Where are all these double-babies coming from? And what’s going to happen in years to come—will the multiple-birth rate continue to grow until America ends up a nation of twins?…
… which talks wisely of older mothers, IVF treatments, and follicle-stimulating hormones. But one very significant factor in the number of same-age siblings doesn’t get mentioned at all: There are more twins (and triplets, and even octuplets) because we have the technology to identify multiple births in utero, to delay premature labor in multiparous pregnancies, and to keep extremely premature infants alive. One reason we’re seeing a lot more twins on the streets these days is that a lot more of them make it into the “live birth” statistical category!
When my youngest siblings were born in the mid-1960s, the boys were just on either side of the three-pound birthweight which was then considered the limit of viability — it was a modest coup for the NYC hospital where they were delivered that both of them not only survived, but did well enough to go home after only five or six weeks. My mother’s obstetrician was completely unprepared; since he never heard more than one fetal heartbeat through his stethoscope (state of the art!), he paid no attention to her “prediction” that twins ran in the family. Even since the 1980s, the chances that a twin pregnancy will be identified in time for a mother and her medical providers to take extra precautions has increased by a factor of… multiples.
And yet, all the hard science work and technological funding that lets modern mothers discuss the exact gestational age, sex, and probable birth weight of the “pre-born” babies whose ultrasound pictures they’re posting on Facebook is just invisible. Women gush that God has “blessed” them — or, in the NYTimes demographic, fret that perhaps they should consider fetal reduction, to “ensure” the most stress-free, high-resource outcome for a single precious survivor. But the fact that we’re having debates that would have been impossible outside of science fiction less than a generation ago is so routine that it’s not worthy of mention.
We literally have forgotten, or overlooked, how lucky we really are.
fetal reduction is kind of a creepy phrase. Does that mean what I think it means? Getting rid of one twin so the other has a better chance? That’s some cold shit.
Mike in NC
Does the Washington Post still own Slate? Whatever. They both suck.
Davis X. Machina
There are, however, multiple-birth hotspots that are associated with particularly successful fertility clinics. South Jersey is one of them. The NY Times from 2005.
@dlwchico: I don’t generally hear about it with twins. But it can be necessary if a woman has more like 8 or 9 fetuses growing.
I am Rh-. If it were not for the wonders of science, I would have been “blessed” with many dead babies. Too many women are taking safe pregnancy and childbirth for granted in the same exact way they are taking contraception for granted. Not too long ago, and as it still is in much of the world, pregnancy always carried the very real possibility of death.
Stories like this cause me to experience great disgust with the upper-middle class Americans they are targeted to.
fetal reduction is exactly what it sounds like, however it is typically used only used in higher order multiple pregnancies (triplets or above) where the risk of extreme prematurity, with the attendant risk of death of ALL the children might outweigh the difficult choice of losing one or more fetus.
My daughter had twins 4 1/2 years ago. No twins on either side of the family. Ever the biolgist, she told her parents right off that it was because this was her 3rd pregnancy and she was in her 30’s.
Obstetrician took the babies at 36 weeks, via C section. They each weighed around 5 1/2 pounds and their Mother was and is petite.
Fucen Pneumatic Fuck Wrench Tarmal
if only elvis pressley’s twin had survived. we could have used a spare elvis, or a second string, or an understudy king. baby boomers haven’t been right in the head since he croaked.
@Fucen Pneumatic Fuck Wrench Tarmal: I doubt if The Pelvis would have been the whacko & “talent” he was w/o being haunted by the knowledge of his dead twin.
Probably wouldn’t have been the momma’s boy he was either.
Anne Laurie – Do you have any stats that show what percentage of pregnancies result in multiple viable fetuses even if they don’t survive to birth (and how that number has changed over the past 30 years)? Not sure if that is the right terminology, but I hope you know what I mean
So it’s better that both twins die instead of saving the one that’s viable? Who are you, the Pope?
I agree with Beltane. Maternal death is still a major cause of death for women. Like everyone else, I had four great-grandmothers. Two of them died in childbirth or shortly thereafter. Although, life is still hard in many ways, it has improved.
You nailed it:
The money quote:
Our free market medical care system at work.
In the long lost 60s we talked about Zero Population Growth. Some agreed it was a good idea. Some didn’t. But we talked.
Now when you mention it people look at you like your’re nuts.
What the hell happened to us?
@dlwchico: Uh, yeah, that’s exactly what it means. Usually women choose (remember? it’s a choice…) it if they or one/both of the fetuses has a health concern that makes a multiple pregnancy/birth a significant risk.
AKA none of your business, have a nice, big, tall glass of judge not, lest ye be judged.
I do have to admit, though, I ATE UP the article in that Slate series on parasitic twins. One time, when I was eighteen, I got really stoned, and my friends and I spent the entire night talking about conjoined twins. I have been fascinated ever since.
Also note this paragraph from the story.
” The reasons for the reported increase in pregnancy-related mortality are unclear. Possible factors include an increase in the risk of women dying, changed coding with the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision, and the addition by states of pregnancy check boxes to the death certificate. ”
That last bit is important, and may be a significant factor in the reported rise in pregnancy related death: better state reporting systems. There have been some studies published trying to estimate the effect and back calculate the true rates.
That does not excuse anything. The US has one of (I think the) highest rates of any developed high income country. If a lot of the reported increase is due to more reliable state reporting systems, it just means that the US has long been more worser than other countries than we thought.
@Dennis SGMM: That, and subsidies for agriculture that produce an excess of corn which is turned into corn syrup and added to everything.
@Dennis SGMM: From what I understand, the rise in infant mortality rates is due to the increased use of ART. For many reasons, many of which are not always known, the babies of women who use ART to become pregnant tend to have worse outcomes even if there was no known reason for their infertility. ART is primarily (hell, probably exclusively) used by the wealthy. However, the obesity/high blood pressure/diabetes is strongly correlated with poverty. So you’re talking about two different populations.
Brother Shotgun of Sweet Reason
My mother had the same experience as yours. I was born and the doctor said “Oh, here’s another one,” and my identical brother followed 2 minutes later. We were early and small, but apparently within range of the technology of the 50s.
@Mnemosyne: Whatever dude. Good luck picking a fight with me.
I have a friend who was pregnant with twins and one aborted. Her doctor told her that often happened. I have no idea if her doctor knew what he was talking about or if he was trying to make her feel good. She delivered a healthy baby boy who is now 13 and quite a fun guy to have around.
Matt that was an accident. Perhaps I shouldn’t have had that second glass of wine at dinner.
Because of modern science my momo twins lived. Also, thankfully my husband and I had good health insurance or we really would have had to file for bankruptcy. As it was not only was the pregnancy stressful, but expensive, even our portion.
Considering that, because of sever preeclampsia, my son was born at 27 weeks & weighed less than 2 lbs I definitely appreciate modern medicine. It’s not just the commonality of twins that’s in flux because of modern medicine. The whole notion of a 9-month pregnancy being standard, as opposed to merely ideal, has changed as well.
And I’ll second the comment on insurance. Modern medicine may be a miracle, but without some seriously killer insurance there’s no way the wife and I could have afforded my son’s $900k bill.
@suzanne: I didn’t say people shouldn’t be allowed to do it.
Y’all need to not be so fucking touchy about anybody that says anything that might be vaguely anti-abortion if interpreted a certain way.
I didn’t think about it all that much, I just read the article and thought of some lady finding out she has twins and deciding to get rid of one so the other would be bigger or something like that and made a quick comment.
Now go find somebody else to be pissy about abortion with. I’m all for you doing whatever you want.
@beltane: I am Rh- too, my husband and all three of my children are Rh+. The first was born in 1970, not too long after RhoGam was introduced.
I have had this conversation with a lot of people who have no idea how we benefitted from the space program. The first thing I point out is Velcro, then I go on to the ICU and ultrasound, and there are so many more that I can’t usually remember when I need to, but I have their attention with the crack about Velcro.
@Constance: Or perhaps you should have had a third ;)
No worries. No harm, no foul.
@dlwchico: Yes, it is exactly what it sounds like and there is nothing creepy (to me) or wrong about it. It is far better to be a good parent to one child than a bad parent to more than one. If the mother decides she wants to carry multiples to term, that is her choice, although some people will criticize that as well (think Octomom). If the mother decides she wants to increase the health of one child or simply realizes that she cannot physically or emotionally take care of more than one baby at a time that is her choice and it is NOBODY else’s business, especially not Willian Salatean’s. (Sorry his article on the subject in Slate ticked me off)
@Fucen Pneumatic Fuck Wrench Tarmal: I was never a fan of Elvis. I was born in 1950 and the Beatles and Beach Boys were the big hot thing for me.
What exactly is it you want to know? How many women get pregnant with multiples and how many are viable? I don’t understand the “even if they don’t survive to birth” part of your sentence. If a fetus doesn’t survive to birth, usually that means it wasn’t viable. Of course there are exceptions (accidents, etc.)
Who, exactly, would keep statistics on the number of women pregnant with multiples? Women are not required to report their pregnancies to the government. Births are reported, but not pregnancies. There are probably many cases out there like a relative of mine who got pregnant with twins (without fertility treatments). She lost the first one at about six weeks and the second one about a month after that. She didn’t have to report that to anyone, although her insurance probably knew if she went for a D&C after the second loss.
If you want to know fertility clinic stats, you can check out the national stats on the SART website. These are for IVF, so other types of assisted reproduction, such as IUI, fertility medications combined with intercourse, etc. are not included. It might help answer your question, but I don’t know since I don’t really understand what you are asking.
@Violet: Anne Laurie’s premise is that looking at the rate of twin live births is misleading because of the various factors she lists that lead to more cases where both twins actually make it to birth now compared to 30 years ago. I was wondering if there was some kind of statistic that might filter out those factors and back up (or refute) that assertion.
The Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) has guidelines that its physician members are expected to follow. There are not laws in the USA as to how many embryos can be transferred into a woman during IVF (other countries do have such laws), but the physicians are expected to follow the guidelines. Nadya Suleman (Octomom)’s doctor did not follow the guidelines when he transferred twelve embryos. He has since had his medical license revoked for gross negligence with the Suleman case.
As part of the statistics you want, I think you could look at premature birth rates and how many of the children born prematurely have survived. Multiples have a higher incidence of premature birth (I don’t have actual links for that, but I have seen actual data on it, so it shouldn’t be that hard to find), and if preemies are surviving at higher rates than 30 years ago, then it seems multiples would be surviving at higher rates.
I think she only listed one item in that category:
The other things she mentioned were technology to identify them and the thing I mentioned, higher preemie survival rates.
I would imagine that idntifying them as twins leads to more appropriate prenatal care which leads to better outcomes.
You are right that this would not effect live births. But I think that my description of Anne Laurie’s premise is still accurate. As she herself says
(EDIT: I guess what I am really wondering is if there is something more reliable than anecdotal evidence to tell us if this is true)
No, my premise is that, yeah, there are more twins around these days because more twins live to be born, which is not even mentioned in the original article. I wish I had a nice no-sub-required database link to answer your question, but if it exists I can’t find it, and I’m not sure whether it exists. Collecting mortality statistics for “newborns”, much less pre-viability fetal deaths, is tricky for a whole bunch of reasons — so much so, that some health organizations refuse to publish them. But we know that low-birth-weight infants are less likely to survive, and that twins usually weigh less than singletons; the scientific miracle is that we’ve moved the “low birthweight viability” marker from around five pounds (pre-antibiotics) to around three pounds (40, or even 25, years ago) to around two pounds.
Heck, look at the Wikipedia article on vanishing twins:
There’s a lot of good stuff available on PubMed. You have to know how to structure your searches, but I think you can find the answer to your questions there if you look.
I’m also a twin, and I was the “Oh, here’s another one” twin born 3 minutes after my sister. This was in 1973 at Cook County Hospital in Chicago, so I’m not sure how they missed it–but they did. Interestingly enough, I graduated HS (in Minnesota, where I grew up) with five other pairs of twins in my class of 409: three identical pairs and two fraternal boy/girl pairs. I guess that’s why we call it the Twin Cities! Nyuk nyuk.
I really don’t see much of a diffrence between our summaries of your premise.
@Violet: Thanks. I will go poke around there. (EDIT: Looks like I can use PubMed to lookup the full papers cited by the CDC article) One thing I did find in the CDC article that Slate cited was
With a multiple birth rate of 33.8 in 2005 and calculating that 60% of the multiples were not the result of fertility treatments, that means that the non-fertility multiple birth rate in 2005 was about 20.3. In 1980 the multiple birth rate was 19.3 but there is no data available about the use of fertility treatments at that time (though I assume that it was much less prevalent in 1980 since it was still evelving and emerging) It is hard to combine that with age statistics without also knowing the age breakdown of people who undergo fertility treatment, but fertility treatments alone seem to account for the vast majority of the increase in the multiple birth rate over that 25 year period.
Anecdote not being data, a co-worker just had twin girls four weeks early. Granted this was a medical decision related to fetal health but still it does seem to stand in your example.
The SART website I linked above does breakdowns by age. Data reporting is voluntary, but clinics have incentives to report because good results bring in more patients. (It’s also an incentive to discourage women and couples who they don’t consider good risks to seek help elsewhere. That way their stats stay high.) Edit: I forgot to mention that the CDC requires reporting of stats, but I think their reporting requirements are different than the SART ones.
Yes, and I think you’ll find plenty of data to back that up when you search PubMed. However, keep in mind that obstetrical medicine has improved along with reproductive medicine. So thirty years ago women would not have been able to receive fertility treatments as much as they do now. But equally, premature births and other high risk pregnancies would not have had as many successful outcomes as they do today. The two are not wholly able to be separated.
My surprise twins were born 23 years ago today. I kept thinking it was twins – more movement in more places, I was tireder and got bigger faster – and my older, male doctor kept dismissing my concerns. He’d walk in, slap a stethoscope on my stomach, and say “sounds good, see you next month.” I think he thought I was a dumb broad who got her dates wrong. I was in an HMO and didn’t have a choice of doctors. They finally ordered and ultrasound, but my water broke on the day it was scheduled. They wheeled in two fetal monitors. One showed HR 120, one 140. Wow, one baby can’t do that. They didn’t bother to set up for a csection. The first was quickly born, then the idiot doctor came in and broke the 2nd sac without checking her position. Arms and legs came spilling out, everyone seemed to think “oh, shit!”, and he shoved her back in, and after a tense and painful few minutes, got her turned around and born. She was limp and purple, and he warned me that she might not be ok. She just graduated from college Phi Beta Kappa, no thanks to him. Firstborn just graduated too. So, yeah, things like regular ultrasounds and technology give women today what sheer luck gave me.
NY Times has an article today about selective reductions of twins to singles. We decided not to send it to our twins – it would creep them out.
They’ve been a joy, after two years of never letting me sleep.
Twin pregnancy books don’t even seem to go past 35 weeks – most twin pregnancies end by then – mine was 35 weeks, so ignored most of the labor thinking it was too soon to be real. Higher order multiples are born even earlier.
No argument from me about that, though I will point out that those successful outcomes include some single births as well (though obviously the risks you mention occur at a much higher rate for multiple births). It could be the case that while (non fertility) medical improvements have increased the number of multiples that survive they have also increased the number of singlets who survive difficult pregnacies by enough that the total live birth rate for multiples remains unchanged. Ot it could be that medical improvements have disproprionately helped multiples over singles (or vice versa)
PS. I have absolutely no idea so I will ask – what fertility treatments were actually available in 1981? And how available were they?
Send it to just one of them ;)
What kind of thread war will I begin if I mention I am pro-fetus life?
I absolutely think that if the women’s life is in danger, or if one of the fetuses is not salvageable then the procedure should be done. Yet this constant talk of letting people do what they want is hypocritical.
Did we let Qaddafi do what he wants? It’s (was)his nation-state.
Should we let CEOS do what they want to corporations? They are his/hers corporations?
Should we let rich people do what they want to their help?
Relating to an earlier thread, should Dominique Strass Kahn be allowed to do whatever he wants?
My opposition to abortion is not religious based. I am well aware of the statistics that show as many abortions happened illegally as happened before it became legal. I am just curious how other people can simultaneous be against the death penalty and pro-abortion. I would like to see a serious philosophical argument that explains why this is logically coherent.
For clarity- I am for legal abortion, because I believe that abortion should be legal, because it still happens when illegal and creates even more dead and injured people. I just want to hear a good explanation of the people who believe why abortion is none of our god damned business
@Ian: How about my case? I have a genetic kidney disease that I have a 50-50 chance of passing on to my offspring. The disease is life altering, possibly seriously so, and there is currently no cure. It may even be life threatening or deadly, though these possibilities are becoming less likely as dialysis and transplant technologies improve (and the new technology to 3-D print replacement organs with your DNA looks amazing)
If there is a genetic test available at 16 weeks that can tell me if the fetus has the disease or not, should I use that information to decide whether or not to abort the fetus? What about the disease is something more deadly like Huntington’s?
I don’t actually have a firm answer myself though I have thought about it quite a bit. At the same time, I am not really interested in marriage or children so it is a bit of a moot point for me on a personal level. But I don’t think I could tell my sister that she shouldn’t consider that decision.
(And having added that bomb to the thread I really should call it a night.)
Or Tay-Sachs, which is a guaranteed very painful very aggravating death for a child. Many a Jewish woman has refused to bear offspring because of their testing for the genetic markers for it.
Wow. I hardly know where to begin since you don’t seem to be able to differentiate between a fully-grown human being and a half-inch long embryo.
When my cleaning people come over, they don’t plug into my bloodstream and use the same food I eat and the same oxygen I breathe. They are separate people who have their own lungs and digestive systems.
In contrast, a zygote/embryo/fetus is not a separate person. It can only survive by attaching itself to the mother’s system and using the oxygen she breathes, the food she eats, and the blood she circulates.
Pregnancy is a far more tenuous state than most men realize. We now know that most pregnancies end in early miscarriage. As noted above, you could be carrying twins one day and discover the next that one of them has absorbed the other and now you only have one child due. Some women have multiple miscarriages and are never able to carry a child to term, and no one can explain why.
If, using your terms, a zygote/embryo/fetus is the exact equivalent of a separate human being and should have the same rights, do you charge that surviving twin with murder after it’s born since it killed its sibling in the womb? If a woman has unexplained miscarriages, should she be prosecuted for murder since her body keeps killing her babies even though she has no control over it?
This is why I’m pro-choice: because I know that many, many things can go wrong between implantation and delivery, and it is not my place to judge someone for deciding that she does not want to accept the risks of childbirth.
I don’t think that there is such a thing as a firm answer. Some women who discover that their fetus has anencephaly (warning: picture) and will not survive birth abort the pregnancy. Others carry it to term knowing that the baby will be stillborn. I really don’t see how a compassionate society can come up with a hard-and-fast rule that a woman must do one or the other with no regard for her feelings.
You are probably also pro-puppy, and firmly anti-flesh-eating-bacteria. Yay, you!
Here in the practical world, however, “fetus life”, that medically fraught status, is still contingent on some individual woman’s ability & willingness to risk her own resources until — at the very least — it can breathe air and digest its own nourishment. Actual people outrank potential people.
The classic pro-choice argument, in case you haven’t run across it already, is that you, Ian, can’t be forced to donate a kidney to save another human being’s life, not even if that person is Warren Buffett or Barack Obama or Penelope Cruz. You can certainly volunteer to sacrifice your kidney for Penelope Cruz (or George Clooney), because you are a good person, but we’ve decided it’s not a good idea to let Warren Buffett buy spare kidneys on the open market (even if Steve Jobs uses his combined surplus brainpower & monetary resources to game the ‘voluntary’ organ-donation system).
To get back to the Miracles-of-Science technological progress that was my original post… the day will come, quite probably sooner than we expect, when those who are pro-fetus-life will be able to put their beliefs into action by “adopting” fetus-lives for incubation, within their own bodies or (more expensively) in Brave-New-World-style bio-vats. And then we’ll have a whole other brew of thorny philosophical issues to deal with. But, at this time, in this world, comparing an individual woman’s decisions about her own body to some gauzy construct involving sociopolitical and/or financial-marketplace bad behavior is just… incoherent.
ETA: Also, what Mnemosyne said, brilliantly.
In-vitro fertilization was available, though new. The first “test tube baby” was born in 1978 (says Wikipedia) and I remember a big article in the Enquirer about it, along with some “OMG do they have souls? What will happen when they grow up? Is this like clones?” discussion.
Also, when you stop using birth control pills, a common side effect is that the fallopian tubes release two eggs (or more) instead of one, as hormone production re-adjusts. I’d be willing to bet that a lot of women ended up with multiples that way. Including my mother. It’s not a fertility treatment per se, but it’s a result of artifical fertility manipulation so it kind of counts.
Thanks Anne, that was a great post and definitely worth thinking about. I was born in St. Vincent’s btw :)
I have a theory that Elvis had such a hard time of it through life because his twin died during child birth. There is absolutely no evidence to suggest this is the case, but I often wonder if the trajectory of his life and career might have been different had his twin survived.
The best approach with regard to any such subject is to avoid impulses toward questions such as ‘is there really a statistically significant phenomenon occurring?’ or ‘are there differences in methods of observation over time’ or ‘are we paying attention to all the basics’?
Usually the fashion is to leap to giant ‘explanations’, which hopefully end up in fears of this or that food or environmental chemicals, especially when seized upon and promoted by celebrities.
Because the survival of the fetus/embryo/baby requires sacrifice on my part. Quite literally, pregnancy or labor could kill me. So I have to consent to it. No, having sex or undergoing a fertility treatment is not ongoing consent. No one, whether or not my child, has the right to my body/organs/physical resources without my affirmative consent. That’s why the government doesn’t come to my house, arrest me, and harvest my organs or draw my blood or give me tattoos or sever my limbs.
There may be moral implications for you, but the legal issue is crystal clear.
lol, Anne Laurie….vets have been pinching off horse twins for half a century.
expecially for jockeyclub thoroughbreds. twinning is a huge in utero disadvantage, expecially for racing stock, because they all share the same official b-day….Jan 1, regardless of their biological b-day.
im reminded of what my onetime GNXP co-blogger Godless Capitalist said about germline eugenics and genetic engineering of fetii.
@Anne Laurie: hahaha, well said.
but ill repeat….
innovation in the market place?
by “adopting” fetus-lives for incubation, within their own bodies or (more expensively) in Brave-New-World-style bio-vats.
lol, in less than 10 years we will able to buy swell new bene tleilax synthetic wombs from the japanese. they have have been doing full term ectogenis of goats forevah.
but that will not be american technology…we will have to buy japanese.
The Protestant Nation doesnt allow that kind of R&D.
so i take it you are a republican?
medieval ensoulment (life-at-conception) is part of the GOP official party platform.
Wow, a shout out to modern medicine? In Balloon Juice? With 50-plus comments already and not one yet bitching about overpaid doctors and their rip-off high-tech ministrations?
What the hell is the matter with you guys today?
@Chrisd: perhaps they are chastened.
for example, BJ hero Matthew Chance got bottled up at the Rixos being fed disinformation along with the FOXnews crew, so all their emocutting pearlclutching we-dont-know-whats-happening-yet has become sorta irrelevant.
Meanwhile Sarah Stoner in a flak jacket and helmet walked into the compound with the rebels.
perhaps Francis Fukuyama was wrong….its not the end of history ….its just the end of americancentric-history.
@MattR: send it to just one of them:)
Funny story. One of my twins broke up with her boyfriend, who immediately got a new girlfriend, who immediately blocked both of them on Facebook. Sister texted boyfriend WTF? He told girlfriend to apologize. She wrote that she realizes now that they are not the same person, and unblocked sister. Realizes now? It took some thought?
Absolutely I agree with the commenters who mention diseases affecting the fetus. If the child does not have a viable future, then it is cruel to bring it into the world.
The notion that because I am male I should not be able to have an opinion on this is ridiculous.
The accusation that I am a republican is also ridiculous. Not all party members adhere to every level of the national party apparatus.
I am not in favor of having people imprisoned for this. I thought I had made that clear.
Perhaps my examples were piss poor. Let my try a better one. If my old grandfather was staying at my house, utterly dependent on me for meals, comfort, and all else, would it be ok for me to kill him, since he is a burden on me?
I do not advocate pro-life laws, and I would rejoice in a level of scientific/technological advancement that would enable fetuses to come to term outside the body if it is no longer desired by the woman.
If I am incoherent, which I may be, I think it is also fair to say most of the posters who simply say ‘none of my business’ are also incoherent.
that is gunna happen. its called the j-womb. but someone will have to sponsor the rejected fetii. the j-womb is going to be mad expensive at first. recouping that free market investment, charge what the traffic will bear.
will the Life-warriors pitch in? will Saddleback start a fund to rescue teratomas and downs fetii and tay-sachs fetii and terminal genetic anomolies?
the topic of this thread is twinning. do you (Ian) think it should be legal for the host to terminate one twin or several multiples so the survivor has a better chance? How about so the survivor can be healthier, stronger, smarter or a better athelete?
like i said, pinching off a twin is one small step away from the designer babies my old friend Godless Capitalist predicts.
where do you (Ian, personally) draw the line?
Personally, I would council the woman carrying my children/twins/triplets to do absolutely no such thing. Personally, I would beg her to not undergo any such procedure unless it was clearly proven that her life was in danger.
Legally, I think that laws should not venture into this area. I do not offer any policy solution, because I do not see one.
Where do you think life begins? Is it conception, birth, or as our current laws suggest 2/3s of the way through pregnancy? I do not know the answer to this, but I would love to hear your opinion. Personally, I think it begins at conception.
No I do not. I do not believe in charging children with crimes. This is because they have not had a chance to learn the moral value system we instill in young adults as part of the process of education.
@Ian: hmm..perhaps i should have said “personhood”….i actually believe in “souls”…personality, electrochemical patterns and exchanges as thoughts, and quantum consciousness and quantum uncertainty as free will.
Fetuses exhibit REM sleep in utero at about 6 months.
a diploid oocyte is not a person. neither is a blastula or a nerula.
Before 6 mos there is not enough neo-cortical substrate to support thinking and dreaming.
so i think pinching off a twin is not killing.
But how do you feel about designer babies? Both extra-utero germline engineering (freemarket eugenics) and genetic engineering in utero?
but what about the babies lives?
what if you couldn’t afford premature birth and incubation for twins for 6 mos? what if you knew the probabilty of fetal blindess increased radically for the set of multiple births?
and if you could afford it, would you choose one or more to go into the j-womb for ectogenesis?
This is among many reasons I argue for universal health insurance backed by a government that will cover such costs.
As to genetically engineered humans, I oppose such thinking because I fear the slippery slope that this might lead to. I do not think we should make superhumans.
I also do not claim to be an expert on human genetics or the growing of humans outside of a womb (or inside one for that matter) I would not want that myself. I could not give you a good answer to your questions, only that I believe that we should not allow human life (or the potential of it) to go down the garbage. As an answer to my question of policy perhaps we could create financial incentives to encourage people to take j-womb babies. This is extremely unlikely from the politicians who claim to be pro-life.
It is a hard and complicated issue that I do not have the answers to. I certainly think it requires more nuance and thinking than the people on either side give it.
(hate to resort to both sides do it, but I can not stand the hypocritical stance they both take. Conservatives who stand by the death penalty and foreign wars call themselves pro-life, and Liberals who usually stand for the rights of the little unprotected people do not give a damn about the unborn)
@Ian: it’s nice that you “argue for” universal, government-backed health insurance, but it’s not happening anytime soon, while pregnancies are happening right this minute. I know a young couple who were expecting twins. A major complication happened, a risky surgery was performed, it seemed successful but the twins were born at 27 weeks. One died within a day, while the other was in NICU for weeks. The couple was left with over a half-million dollars in medicial bills. They were 22 years old before this happened – their finances were ruined before they even started their lives. That’s the kind of scenario that makes people think they don’t want to go through with a pregnancy.
And no, an 8-week 1/2 inch embryo is not a person in the sense that your aged grandfather is.
That really sucks. I am sorry. I am sympathetic, I wish I could build a world where this does not happen.
As I have said, I am not in favor of the kind of policies that would cause this.
Explain to me why an 8 week old fetus does not deserve rights? Why does being born infer you some certain rights? When do you receive your fundamentally born rights? At what point do you turn from cockroach to be squished to human being with rights? Is it the privilege of coming out of the particular part of the female anatomy? If so, should we distinguish between C-section babies and normally born ones?
As I have said before, I DO NOT HAVE THE ANSWERS TO THIS QUESTION! I would just like to know why and where we decide an unborn fetus has rights. As I have said before, it is complicated and nuanced. And why does being 8 weeks old give you different human attributes as a 70 year old man?
Also I think I made it quite clear I am in favor of legal abortion. I may think it abhorrent, but I agree with you on the consequences.
I think of pregnancy as a continuum. A fertilized egg is a cell, not a person, and most of them are washed out by menstrual blood before implantation. We’re not going to hold a funeral for every bloody tampon. Doctors define pregnancy as occurring with implantation, but it’s still a bunch of cells, not a person. It’s a potential person in the same way a sprouted acorn is a potential tree, but a sprouted acorn doesn’t receive the same care or protection as a 500-year-old oak tree. As the weeks go by, the bundle of cells becomes more like a person, until the last months it is very close to being an independent person, but still dependent on someone else’s body. That’s why Roe vs. Wade has the trimester system , and I think most people instinctively get that. A bundle of cells is very much subordinate to its host, while a 35-week fetus is a baby. Nobody, and I mean nobody, gets a late abortion for frivolous reasons, because they were too busy shopping for shoes to get around to it early. They happen because of serious problems with mother and/or baby. Andrew Sullivan had a long collection of letters from readers on abortion that gave him a more nuanced view – you should check them out.
@Ian: funnie. i dont give a damn about teh Unborn, until they are 6 months old. i dont give a damn about diploid oocytes. that is just a lie. conservatives are the ones that dont give a damn about teh Unborn or they would do something about the holocaust of fertility therapy embryos in terminal cryostasis.
I sure as fuck never said that.
I was trying to say that hard-line prolifers don’t distinguish between the morning-after pill and early abortion, and late abortion. There are large distinctions, though. People get early abortions because they don’t wnt to be pregnant, and I think that’s reasonable, because in early pregnancy, a fetus is not much like a baby, and is entirely dependent on many months living off the sustenance of another. However, in late pregnancy, a fetus is very close to being able to live on its own, and most people would consider it necessary for very serious conditions to exist to consider ending its life, such as a direct threat to the life of the mother. Prolifers say that a fertilized egg is a human being, but given the choice of saving a fertilized egg, or an 8-month healthy fetus, I don’t believe that anyone at all would say “I can’t decide! They’re both a human life and equally valuable!” The point I was making was that all abortions, at all stages, aren’t equal. Do you disagree, Ian?
@Ian: theres always deus ex, Ian.
super-soldiers first, then designer babies.
you cant stop the signal.
@Ian: ahhh heres the right trailer– human augmentation.