Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Fetal Development and the LDS perspective

Perhaps one of the hardest things for me to come to terms with is the LDS perspective on the unborn child. Unless a child is born and takes a breath, it is not considered a child of record and doesn't go on the church records. The reasoning behind this is that supposedly the spirit has not entered the body yet. The reason this is so bothersome to me, is that so many people of my faith see this as a reason to dismiss a miscarriage. You see, it wasn't a real spirit and therefore not a child. Therefore I have no right to mourn the loss of my non-child. Well I did mourn. And very deeply. So much so that I spent a lot of time soul searching this notion of my faith. I have to say that I completely disagree with it for a number of reasons.

There is much debate in the LDS world as to when the spirit enters the body. Is it at conception? Is it at birth when a breath is taken? Is it at quickening? One of the latter-day prophets had said it was at quickening because that is when the baby first moved.

Well, modern technology has proved that to be completely false. Not to mention the words of the Lord himself as spoken to the prophet Jeremiah in the Old Testament. Jeremiah 1:5 states, "Before I formed thee in the belly, I knew thee."

I had an ultrasound done at 8 weeks on my most recent pregnancy. Guess what, that little baby was dancing around and waving. It was incredible. Just because the mother can't feel it (quickening), doesn't mean it isn't happening. You see, the inside of the uterus has no feeling, so none of this can be felt until the baby weighs enough for other organs to feel it. When a person dies, the spirit leaves the body. Brain activity stops. The heart stops. Movement stops. It requires either a spirit or life support machinery to create those functions of the body. Why would a fetus be any different? Brain activity in a fetus begins at six weeks after conception. The heart begins to beat at 18 days, when the mother is only four days late for her menstrual cycle.

P.E. Rockwell, M.D., Director of Anesthesiology related an experience that he had. This article is used time and again for pro-life arguments, so you may have heard it before. Here it is, ""Eleven years ago, while giving an anesthetic for a ruptured tubal pregnancy (at two months), I was handed what I believed to be the smallest human being ever seen. The embryo sac was intact and transparent. Within the sac was a tiny (one-third inch) human male swimming extremely vigorously in the amniotic fluid, while attached to the wall by the umbilical cord. This tiny human was perfectly developed with long, tapering fingers, feet and toes. It was almost transparent as regards the skin, and the delicate arteries and veins were prominent to the ends of the fingers.

"The baby was extremely alive and swam about the sac approximately one time per second with a natural swimmers stroke. This tiny human did not look at all like the photos and drawings of ‘embryos’ which I have seen, nor did it look like the few embryos I have been able to observe since then, obviously because this one was alive. "When the sac was opened, the tiny human immediately lost its life and took on the appearance of what is accepted as the appearance of an embryo at this stage (blunt extremities, etc.)."

I find it so hypocritical of my religion who is extremely anti-abortion to turn around and not acknowledge a life that was in a womb. If there is no spirit there and it isn't a real baby, then why the argument against abortion? Obviously I have strong feelings on this subject!

I found great condolence in an experience that a LDS friend of mine in England related to me years before my experiences. She and her family had been converted to the LDS religion and had gone to the temple to be sealed together. During a sealing, the parents and children kneel around an altar and the children are placed in birth order. A sealer performs a ceremony that is much like a marriage where the family is blessed to be together for this life and the next. When my friend's family knelt around the altar, the sealer kept shifting the children around. He spaced out the children. Some had three spaces in between, and another had two. He finally felt that he had it right and asked my friend if she had lost some children. She said that she had in miscarriages and the number of spacing was the exact number of miscarriages and in the correct order. The sealer told her that those children were there that day and would also be sealed to their family.

I have clung to her experience to know that one day I will see my babies again. The facts of the development of the fetus, paired with the promises of the Lord are too much to ignore. The only change that occurs at birth is a change in the external life support system of the baby. The baby is no different before birth than after, except that he has changed his method of feeding and obtaining oxygen.

1 comment:

Just Us said...

You don't know me, but I found your blog through a friend of your sister's. I think that is how it goes. Any way, I have suffered the loss of 5 pregnancies, each a different times in the pregnancy. Not knowing how to deal with my extremes in emotions about it, my husband consulted our Branch President about it. He gave my husband the comforting advice that we will be with these lost children again! I know that often there are "traditions" that are established within the church, which are not necessarily true, that we have to do away with. This happens to be one of the bigger ones that many misunderstand, but I know that those children that we lose even before birth will be with us forever.