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Selective reduction refers to the practice of aborting one or more fetuses in women who are expecting high-order multiples. Many doctors ask couples to consider this option if they are expecting triplets, quads, or upward following fertility treatment, or may even recommend it. High multiple pregnancies carry a lot of risks for mothers, and also affect the babies' health and their chances of remaining in the womb until term is reached. Selective reduction carries some obvious ethical dilemmas. Couples who are expecting many babies often face very hard decisions. High order multiples are very often born prematurely and may experience growth issues during pregnancy, as their space is cramped.

A good example of a pregnancy with many fetuses is Nadya Suleyman's octuplet pregnancy. The infamous octomom's eight babies were born prematurely through c-section. During selective reduction, one or more of the fetuses are aborted to reduce the number to a less high-risk pregnancy. In pregnancies with many babies, there are certainly medical reasons for considering this option given the well-documented risks to both mother and babies. But these are usually pregnancies resulting from fertility treatments like IVF, where the babies were obviously well planned for and very much desired. If you are expecting multiples, and your doctor brought up the possibility of selective reduction or you are considering it yourself, how do you decide?

The best approach is to inform yourself about the risks of multiple pregnancies and what would await you if you would carry all babies. You should also carefully examine your opinions and feelings about abortion. Remember that, while it is certainly the duty of the medical professionals guiding you to make recommendations and inform you about health risks, you and your partner ultimately make the decision. An increasing number of high-order multiples are coming into the world, and many couples would never even consider abortion.

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