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Taylor Bardwell Professor Horton English 1101 17 October 2011 Pregnancy Reduction: The Hidden Truth In the article “The Two-Minus-One Pregnancy,” Ruth Padawer examines several women’s cases dealing with a multiple fetus reduction. Throughout the various situations Padawer examined, she came to find that many women were unable to share their experiences with their fetus reduction. In her research and interviews Padawer stumbled upon a quote from Bonnie Steinbock, a philosophy professor at SUNY Albany. “It changes our judgment of the moral character of the individual making the abortion decision, in the first case, it wasn’t her ‘fault’ in the second, it was. It doesn’t mean the careless person shouldn’t have the right to an abortion, but it does mean we’re going to have a very different reaction to that choice.” Just by reading this quote it will show how big of a role judgments play in today’s society. Similar judgments like the views from Steinbock are the reason why many women today have chosen not to inform others of their procedure. Multiple fetal pregnancy reduction is one type of loss that is nearly impossible to 'share' with others let alone have them fully understand the anxiety and dilemma that has been faced. Almost two years ago my best friend Ashley and I encountered a moment that will last forever. For the first time since her procedure Ashley was able to finally share her story dealing with her own fetus reduction to a singleton. Ashley has been my best friend since high school and never once had I expected she would have any type of abortion completed. Ashley became pregnant as a freshman in high school and kept her procedure a secret for roughly four years




before talking about the experience with me. To this day, fear of rejection from her family and friends is the prevailing factor as to why she was unable to share with anyone other than myself. Ashley believes her family will never understand nor will they accept her decision under the circumstances that her family is extremely against abortion of any kind. Judgments that arose from having a child in high school was already rough enough for her to endure without adding the fact that she was supposed to have twins and made the decision to reduce. Fear of judgment and opposition clouded her head and resulted in Ashley enduring the procedure all on her own with no one to support her. Until the summer before we started college Ashley felt she could not confide in anyone who would have a fair reaction to her decision. I met Ashley the summer before our senior year of high school. We had mutual friends for the longest time but never had the opportunity to meet. Given the circumstances she was one of the most respected girls at her school. Over the next two years we grew so close that we became inseparable. It was like I had found my long lost sister. Even with the close bond that we share I could always feel that there was something she had hiding deep inside that wanted to come out. Then it hit me. I can remember the moment she let go of everything she had bottled up inside like it was just yesterday. It was like a bomb had just dropped in the backyard; Ashley broke down out of nowhere. We had both recently found out we were accepted into the same college and were online figuring out what to do next with orientation as I was rambling on about my boyfriend. I had no idea what was about to happen, Ashley was never the type to talk about her feelings. I asked if everything was all right and within a second after she rushed me into her bedroom and locked the door. The awkward silence that followed had my heart racing like I had just finished running the Peachtree road race. The silence finally broke and Ashley began to share the story of her



reduction. I was unaware that my jaw had dropped and my eyes were open wide as if I had just seen a ghost. At that point Ashley became very quiet and hesitant to go on with her story. I quickly collected myself and regained my composure. She must have understood the state of shock I was in and proceed to give me the biggest hug known to man. I then told her there was no need to have a doubt in her mind that I would judge her and that I would always stay by her side to support her one hundred percent. I knew Ashley felt she could trust me, after all I was the only person she shared this information with, but I still felt the need to let her know it was all right to keep going with her story. I could tell that every ounce of her was trying so hard to keep calm but what she had kept inside for so long poured out like a river. Ashley told me her reduction was the most terrifying moment of her life and that she wished we were friends during her freshman year so that she would not have had to go through the pain and grief from her procedure all alone. No matter how hard Ashley explained the pain, stress and heartache that she went through I honestly could not fathom any of it. When Ashley finally finished everything she needed to say I had to then ask her why she felt comfortable sharing her story with me. Why was I the only person? The best answer Ashley could muster up was that she felt safe with me. Ashley felt that she was not close enough with anyone else, not even her own family. She knew I would never judge her nor be angry at her decision. Ashley said the reason I am the only person that knows about her reduction is not just one but many factors. First, fear of rejection from her family and friends. The second reason was the fear she had of losing respect from everyone. Finally, Ashley was most afraid that no one would understand where she was coming from and in turn place unjust moral judgment on her. My response to all of this new information was nothing but an intense feeling of grief. I felt awful that Ashley felt she had not one single person



to turn to in a time of dire need. The reality that Ashley could never speak to someone and that she went through such a difficult time in her life alone broke my heart. Ashley was never the affectionate type but at this point we sat and hugged in silence for a good while. When the tears were wiped away I could not help but have more questions that I wanted answered. The next question I asked was when she would be willing to share her experience with her family. The answer was a stern “never.” I could not help the feeling of remorse as my heart kept breaking for Ashley. I could not imagine how hard it must have been to live life for so long without being able to talk about a matter that was so serious with anyone much less my own family. I told her there was no reason to feel afraid anymore because so much time has passed. I explained that if anything they would be upset she never told them and feel terrible for not being there for their daughter. Ashley just shook her head. She told me every single one of her three siblings is married with children and all have the same views on abortion. There would never be a possibility that any of them would understand. Ashley also added the fact that she does not want her son to grow up and find out that he was supposed to have a brother or sister. I tried for a good two hours to help Ashley understand that she could trust her family; after all they are her blood. After I realized that nothing I said could convince her that there was a way to talk about it with her parents, I went back to my role of a best friend and let her finish venting to me. From that day forward I viewed Ashley as a much different woman than I originally expected her to be. I imagine her as one of the strongest women that I was fortunate enough to meet and become so close with. Unfortunately Ashley is also a young woman hiding in fear of rejection. Through my experience with Ashley I have learned so much. There are many more factors other than the fear of judgments that keep most women from sharing their procedure. The



feelings of guilt and regret play a major role as well. Sadly there is no quick fix for this problem because it is so widely integrated into our society. Choosing to hide your reduction based on your worries from others opinions can cause unwanted stress and may add to the damage that has already been done. My hope for women of all ages that have encountered a crisis much like the one of Ashley’s is that one day there will be a possibility that they can fight through their fear and reach out for help instead of living life hiding such a painful secret.

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