Christian couples with high-risk pregnancies, often due to biotech fertility treatments or a fetal illness, may find themselves facing an agonizing decision, not just an eagerly awaited birth.

When their physicians intensively use fertility drugs and in vitro fertilization, the chance of a multiple conception increases dramatically. In facing the complexities of gestating and birthing triplets or even octuplets, physicians often advise would-be parents to "selectively reduce" the number of living embryos in order to give the others a better chance at life. And even in the more common instance of twins, some physicians recommend aborting one of the fetuses when medical complications arise.

For Scot and Patty Shier of Los Angeles, who faced the question of selective reduction, the promise of having their own baby became a perilous journey through high-tech bioethics.

After more than four years of infertility, the Shiers sought help at a fertility clinic. Because Patty had scarring from a ruptured appendix in childhood, in vitro fertilization—in which eggs and sperm are mixed in a petri dish and the resulting embryos are implanted in the womb—was their only hope for having their own children.

The Shiers, members of the 2,000-member Hope Chapel in Hermosa Beach, say they prayed for God's will in the situation. But not only did several in vitro attempts fail, two adoption attempts also fell through. So they decided for one last attempt. Concerned that job stress might be part of the problem, Patty, a software support technician, took a leave of absence and waited for a call from the clinic. When the phone rang on July 4, 1995, she quickly sensed a different result. The disappointing news of a negative pregnancy test had ...

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