Mommyish Poll: Do You Consider A ‘Reduction’ To Be An ‘Abortion’?

By  | 

twin reductionEarlier this week, I shared my discontent for the term “twin reduction” when discussing the termination of one or multiple fetuses fruited from IVF practices. While I find the differentiation in terms to be problematic for women’s rights, several readers chimed in with their take on “reduction” vs. “abortion.”

A commenter named Melissa identified what I was getting at in my assertion that giving women different terms for the exact same procedure presents pronounced stigma. She wrote:

While there are many terms used for abortion, I think the way the word abortion is used in society, in media, and even within the medical community assigns to it a negative connotation that words like reduction and termination don’t have. This despite the fact that they all refer to the same procedure of ending an unwanted pregnancy. Reduction and termination seem to be terms used in cases where the abortion is deemed medically necessary. For example, you terminate a fetus that carries a fatal trisomy or you reduce a multiple IVF pregnancy but you don’t often hear the word abortion uttered in these cases. Even “spontaneous abortion” gets recast as miscarriage. But if we’re talking about an unwanted pregnancy from a one night stand or in an unwed, teenage and/or poverty-stricken woman or in a rape victim, it’s always called an “abortion”. I think the point Koa is trying to make is that the context for using “abortion” vs. “reduction” is such that reductions seem acceptable (again, because it’s cast in a medical context) while abortions are not.

Cait, another reader, disagreed with me, but added that in her estimation, a reduction is a “type of abortion”:

…if you were carrying an unwanted multiple pregnancy and your doctor laid out your options including just the vaguely-titled “abortion”, you’d most likely get it confused with a complete termination rather than just a reduction.

The only issue I would have is if someone was trying to assert that a reduction isn’t a type of abortion and should be entirely removed from the word, but I have yet to see that happening.

So if a selective reduction is a “type of abortion,” where should ladies and practitioners meet in terms of terminology? If we’re talking about the same procedure for all women with unwanted pregnancies, no matter how many fetuses they plan to carry to term at present — or perhaps later on their lives — what’s appropriate?

But more importantly, is a “reduction” an “abortion” to you?

[b5poll id=”b93bfc9a40686d8ff7b52453f1b25066″]

(photo: Jiri Hera/