Abortion through ignorance

st. joseph, a regular contributor to the blog, has referred from time to time to methods of contraception which are claimed to act as abortifacients. This subject hasn’t fitted easily into the other posts but it is such an important question that it ought to be discussed. In effect it leaves on one side, for the time being, the issue of the unqualified prohibition on contraception in Humanae Vitae, and challenges everyone to consider the morality of several methods which are in common use.

I claim no particular expertise on this matter, although I have accumulated research files over the years, so this brief introduction is more than usually open to corrections and additions. And of course updating by those who have the relevant statistics and experience to hand.

First, we should distinguish between the lay view on very early abortion and the Church’s teaching. In this country the House of Commons took the view that ‘a pregnancy begins at implantation’ (rather than at conception) and that this was ‘the accepted legal and medical view’.

By contrast the Church teaches that the essential human being is present from conception. Guided by its DNA, modified by its environment, it develops to maturity not only in the womb but thereafter. Implantation takes place by about day 7, and the “primitive streak”, which is the first sign of the nervous system appears at day 15. There is good evidence that the axis of the embryo is set by the point at which the seed enters the egg. Put “axis” into the search box and you will find “Human beings from conception” (9 Oct 08) for fuller details.

Let’s start with the ordinary contraceptive pill. Or perhaps we should use the plural because different combinations of chemicals are used, usually with the aim of finding the best formula for the individual woman. The mini pill for example contains no oestrogen, and for that reason it suits many women. But in a substantial proportion of cases it will not suppress ovulation and so achieves its objective by inhibiting implantation through causing a thinning of the wall of the womb. The standard pill contains both oestrogen and progesterone, and is more effective in suppressing ovulation. However ovulation occurs between 2 and 10 percent of the time. Here, again, the conceptus will not implant because of the effect on the uterine lining. In both these cases the rate of unsuppressed ovulation is much higher than the rate of actual pregnancy. It has been inferred that this difference is, in sexually active women, a measurement of the number of abortions which are taking place. This is difficult to measure in other ways because, in many instances, a woman will not know whether she has miscarried or merely carried on with her usual cycle.

The “morning after” pill can work by preventing or delaying ovulation or the meeting between the seed and the egg. But it also works, on a long-stop basis, by affecting the uterine lining, as in the case of the long term pill.

Intrauterine devices (IUDs) have a contraceptive effect — either from the material from which they are constructed or by their production of hormones. But they also have the effect of making the womb inhospitable to implantation.

As st.joseph implies, the moral questions which arise are not often discussed. And we must remember that the long term pill at least can have therapeutic qualities such as regularising cycles, reducing cramps and minimising pre-menstrual symptoms. The Church permits the pill for such benefits, accepting the temporary sterilisation as an unwanted side effect. But, by the normal application of moral theology, the intended and unintended effects must be proportionate. For a sexually active woman the symptoms which the pill is intended to relieve might have to be very disabling to provide justification in the face of the abortion danger.

I have not attempted to reach a conclusion on these matters, and I hope that your comments and thoughts will help me to do so. It may even be possible to publish a column in the CH in due course based on what I have written, but taking your comments into account.

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About Quentin

Science Editor, Catholic Herald. Portrait © Jacqueline Alma
This entry was posted in Bio-ethics, Moral judgment, Quentin queries. Bookmark the permalink.

47 Responses to Abortion through ignorance

  1. st.joseph says:

    Thank you Quentin for allowing space for something I feel so passionate about and have done so for 40 years-before I became a teacher of N.F.P in the early 80s.At that time it was very well instructed with an 18 month course ,and the Certificate had to be passed by the Central Board of Midwives. The late Dr Anna Flynn and Dr John Kelly at Bristol University Hospital and Birmingham University Hospital. It wasn’t a case of just using it -but teaching it, and we were very proficiently taught on all aspects of fertility and the side effects of artificial contraception etc. also all the circumstances of coming off the pill, pregnancy, and breast feeding.etc etc etc.
    It was funded at that time at least mine with £50 from the Clifton Diocese by Bishop Mervyn Alexander-at least he did have a vision. I didnt want to do it, but no one in the area doctor or nurse would!I said to Our Lady…’Why me’
    Surprisingly I didnt do it because the ‘Church said so’- or ‘thats what we had to do as catholics, I did it because I could see the common sense in it. And I still do even more so than then.

    I learnt after ,because of so many miscarriages ,because I had a Placenta rupture with my last child and it nearly cost both our lives. Thank God.after being told his heart had stopped and being rushed into hospital and with a great deal of prayer he was born very quickly and Naturally.After which my miscarriages began,maybe now a days that could be fixed. But I just thanked the Lord for the children I had and I am blessed.

    What I am getting around to say is ,after so many miscarriages the Specialist said it would be better for me to take the O.C.I did and of course abstained from sexual intercourse, but lo and behold 3months later ended up with a thrombosis and nearly died.

    So I was determined to learn N.F.P and teach others who were in similar circumstances as myself. It was the most satisyfing experience of my life. To gain all that knowledge-it was definitely a gift from God . The hard work was not the studying of it, although that was difficult- all the biology etc having left school at 14yrs.I am still a Founder member of N.F.P.T.A.. Although I dont teach it any more I still try to promote it.And I thank you Quentin for the opportunity to make it more known on your blog, (as there is really no where else) and for the responses in the past.

    I have read the ‘Axis you mentioned and I am very pleased to say the comments are very encouraging. How many have belief that a baby is a baby from conception -as it is mentioned in a lot of the comments.

    Therefore I can not see how anyone can believe that abortifacients are not the killing of an unborn child.

    I heard this morning on the news that the British Medical Association say that as a baby does not feel any pain at 24 weeks it doesn’t see any reason to change the law. It is protected they say from chemicals in its mothers womb.So therefore it is alright to abort it. Who will protect the baby from death.?

    I am sorry this comment is so long, I am always ‘going on a lot’
    But I thought I would fill the space up with my comments, if nothing else.

  2. st.joseph says:

    The actor Ricardo Montalban ,who died last year R.I.P was interviewed on E.W.T.N ,and last year they showed a clip of the interview. I was very moved by this and one of Quentins comments reminded me of it. Therefore I will say what Ricardo Montalban said about something important in his life.

    He said ‘ I am going to think logically, and as if I were not a Catholic ,and its nothing to do with morality, what happined was I asked myself this question. What do I think about abortion?
    When was I, I. Was I,I. 6 months ago,a year ago, 6 years ago, 50 years ago. Was I,I. a week after I was born. Was I,I the moment I was born, although if you showed me a picture of me then and of me now, you would not connect the two.
    It is a big road to travel from there to here,who was going to say at what point was I,I..
    So I decided logically that I was I the moment that incredible miracle of life, when that tiny little fish like, was able to penerate and to fertilize my life. That is when I,was I.

    That was the beginning of my life, that was when every journey starts with a single step, you cannot end a journey without the first step! And that was the first step of the journey of my life.
    I ask myself ‘what is the difference if you kill me now or destroy me then’? I would not be I,.
    I was not I
    on the night my mother told my father, ‘not to-night dear I have a headache.

    I firmly believe that abortion is murder, I really do, the fetus is not going to be an orange or a banana.
    I really do not understand the arguments of pro-abortion, I really dont! And I was I ,when they did not interfere with it.
    End.

    I know we all feel like this, but he said it so beautiful I had to record it and transcript it at the time.

  3. tim says:

    As to the BMA view, it’s interesting to note Article 1 of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.

    “1. Protected animals. — (1) Subject to the provisions of this section, “a protected animal” for the purposes of this Act means any living vertebrate other than man.
    (2) Any such vertebrate in its foetal, larval or embryonic form is a protected animal only from the stage of its development when—
    (a) in the case of a mammal, bird or reptile, half the gestation or incubation period for the relevant species has elapsed…”

    Humans between 20 and 24 weeks gestation lack the protection they would receive if they were animals.

  4. Horace says:

    The original ‘Oath of Hippocrates’ several hundred years before the birth of Christ contains the following:-
    “I swear by Apollo the healer, by Aesculapius, . . . . I will not give a fatal draught to anyone if I am asked, nor will I suggest any such thing. Neither will I give a woman means to procure an abortion. . . ”
    plus c’est la même chose

  5. Daisy says:

    I am surprised that this subject has only, at the time of writing, had 4 replies — and two of them from st.joseph who raised the subject in the first place.
    Surely if it is true that many Catholics are in fact unwittingly causing abortions through their contraceptive methods we need to know more about this. It worries me.
    Are Quentin’s facts correct?
    Are his inferences fair?
    Do we really believe, or just pretend we believe that a new human being is present from conception?
    Or would we rather pass by on the other side? And this time the road to Damascus is this blog.

  6. st.joseph says:

    You are so right Daisy.
    When the subject arises on the use of condoms, people express their opinion loud and clear-even the Holy Father.

    If young people use condoms, I would rather they be sensible and take precautions against the irresponsibilty of bringing a child into the world and spreading sexual transmitted diseases. The only big problem is when they become pregnant and recourse to an abortion.
    We have married couples using abortificants as a contraceptive. and I put the responsibility on the shoulders of the heirarchy and parish priests.

    I notice on going letters in the Catholic Herald recently on the fallable or infallability of the teachings of the church on contraception, they are missing the point!!!
    One particular letter said that ‘the timing of need for lovemaking does not often synchronize with the absence of the ovum-hence the reason why most couples chose contraception over N.F.P.’
    I would say to those who choose abortifacient as a method to use a condom instead. At least it would show young people that they would not be doing the worst of two evils. And would show a better example as catholics to the rest of the world.
    But the answer is not in the long run ,that,but to use the way that God gave us. It is not all about the fallable or infallablity of H.V. Although obedience does play a very big part in it!
    It shows we do need the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

  7. AMDG says:

    This is an incredibly important topic and one which, whatever view one takes of Pope Paul VI’s Encyclical Humanae Vitae, shows that almost everything which that document predicted would happen has indeed come to pass. Of all of these predictions the huge increase in the number of abortions carried out in spite of the availability of contraception begs the question is there a link? The answer according to the Scientific Director of the Pontifical Academy for Life is a resounding yes, based on the commonality between the ideologies associated with both abortion and contraception which place the child (whether real or notional) as the target of the procedure. For those with a real interest in the detailed science involved in contraception and the reality of the abortifacient nature of much of the routine contraception being deployed around the world today, I urge you to take time to read the full interview with the Scientific Director which can be found at:

    http://www.dialoguedynamics.com/content/learning-forum/interviews-and-articles/article/mons-jacques-suaudeau-on-the-link

  8. I have now read the link which AMDG provides. And I would urge everyone, whether or not they have a direct interest in the subject, to do the same.
    It will take about half an hour read carefully and of course much longer to think about it.
    I am minded to publish an overview in the CH column, but I have to think about this. Any advice you have would be welcome. Ideally advice which appears on the blog is most helpful because others can respond, but do email me directly if you wish.

    Quentin

  9. Horace says:

    To reply to Daisy:-
    Are Quentin’s facts correct? I believe so.
    Are his inferences fair? Yes
    Do we really believe, or just pretend we believe that a new human being is present from conception?
    Yes – but I find it very difficult to justify this belief.
    The only argument that I can offer is the hesitant suggestion – the soul (and therefore in some way the ‘person’) is outside of time. [ e.g. Jeremias 1:5 {priusquam te formarem in utero novi te} “Before I formed thee in the womb, I knew thee”]

    The special point that Quentin raises is that ‘the pill’ not only suppresses ovulation, and thus prevents conception, but it also tends to prevent implantation of any conceptus, which may form because the suppression is not complete, and therefore directly produces an abortion.
    I think that this is not generally known (I, for one, did not appreciate it). Thinking about abortion one usually visualises some much more active intervention than simply making implantation more difficult, particularly in view of the fact that very many conceptuses (perhaps 50%) fail to implant anyway.

    I also have now read the link which AMDG provides and evidence provided there is incontrovertible.

  10. Superview says:

    I notice that the markedly compassionate responses to the previous article ‘Paved with good intentions’ came mainly from Daisy and st.joseph. I do think that for the great majority of right-minded and well-intentioned people the moral dilemma when the life of a mother is threatened by her pregnancy is not so difficult (though the tragedy is arguably more intensely felt) when it is approached simply, with intuitively human responses. For them it is obvious that one would put the life of the expectant mother, whether or not she has other children, before that of the foetus. And the decision will always be agonising for all because of the compassion for the mother/parents whose baby must be lost.

    I have to say that believing the matter is to be decided on the comparative ‘innocence’ of the two lives involved seems to me to be untenable. To compare the nominally innocent life (or is it soul) of a foetus which has never breathed its own breath, never entered the world of reason and choice, never known right and wrong, indeed, never known God even (?), with the life the mother has lived in the world of humankind is surely a misguided approach? It is putting the Law before Love. This is not to dismiss the value of the life that is developing, but to clarify the moral reasoning involved in its elevation to supremacy over the mother.

    This brings me to the present related topic. I have throughout my adult life been opposed to abortion (surely the ugliest word in the English language) as the ending of a developing life, with all the implications for society’s attitude to children. I am always moved by the powerful and poignant picture of the tiny, but perfect, foot of an unborn child, and the loss of human potential that its abortion entails. As for the soul, that, as someone has remarked, needs must be left to God. But I have a number of questions that bother me, and which even the asking may bring down the wrath of many.

    I read with great interest the essay to which AMGD referred, and the treatment of the various forms of contraception was very informative; but, unfortunately, with its abysmal economic and social analysis and loaded argumentative conclusions, I felt myself wanting to stand aside from it and seek the truth elsewhere.

    I can see absolutely that logically life begins at conception when the egg is fertilised. From this conclusion does it follow necessarily that the entity that immediately develops is to be accorded at all times and in all circumstances the equivalence of a full human person, when biologically speaking it clearly isn’t? If so, is this because we believe God has followed the process and inserted the human soul at the precise moment the egg is fertilised (it surely cannot be the result of a purely biological event)? However, it seems, again logically on the premises, the same thing happens in the laboratory, when, in an attempt to assist couples unable naturally to conceive, several eggs are deliberately and skilfully fertilised and the resulting embryos introduced into the womb. It would follow that God is compelled to ‘ensoul’ each of them?

    Move on several weeks, even months. I do not know the moral theologian’s response to miscarriages. I fear it may be platitudinous. St.joseph has spoken movingly of her miscarriages, and the very last thing I would want is to be insensitive to the trauma involved. A young couple we know suffered dreadfully with two miscarriages because of an inherited condition, before the dice rolled in their favour (as the doctors advised it might) and they now have a lovely family. Did God choose to end those two miscarried lives? Did he decide which of those conceptions would live and which would never see the light of day? If so, to what purpose? Do the same moral theologians see the loss of a foetus by miscarriage as significant as the loss of any other human life? If not, why not?

    I understand that, returning to the earliest point of life, and the abortifacients issue, a high proportion of all embryos fail to implant in the womb and are lost. An Anglican bishop has asked whether God intended that Heaven (not to say the now discredited Limbo after centuries of erroneous teaching) would be populated by human souls that had never been born? It is a moot point.

  11. Ion Zone says:

    I think the pill should be a standby as it has several negative side effects. It can decrease fertility permanently, reduce desire, and cause weight gain.

  12. st.joseph says:

    Thank you AMDW for your post with so much information,it really puts the record straight. Also for those who have posted so far.

    I will make a few points of interest which feel are important.
    If one believes that a baby is not a real person from conception in the form that we know it as it continues on his/her journey to death-we are still destroying a human being. Natural abortion happens all the time, but then we have not chosen to end their life on earth. Some things have to be left in the hands of God.
    By using the fertility pattern to acheive or delay a pregnancy a couple respects God as Creator,but if they use contraception they are denying God His right to Create.This is often ignored in ethical and theological arguments!

    The Church’s moral teachings are based on ‘natural law’, together with Our Lords command to “love your neighbour as yourself” Because God is Creator the two should never clash, but the natural law sets the context which we decide which is the most loving thing to do.

    Suppose a doctor has a choice of medicenes for treating a particular illness. One medicene could have serious side effects, another minor effects, but the third is completely safe and harmless. All are efficient for treating the ailment. So long as all three are equally available, it would be very odd if he prescribed any but the third medicene.
    It is against nature to do avoidable harm to the body, and it is contrary to love to cause anyone unneccesary suffering or even discomfort.
    It is the same with responsible parenthood: it would be both naturally and morally wrong to choose methods which could cause harm to the body,or might even have ‘minor ‘side effects, let alone the side effects mentioned in AMDG post.

    Natural Family Planning defends the freedom of women.
    Superview you mention I.V.F. The Chuch condems this practice for obvious reasons.

    An American fertility treatment NaPro uses the Crighton Model Fertility Care system to maximise chance of pregnancy as well as modern medical tests and interventions to treat any underlying conditions.It fixes a problem and is not bypassed like I.V.F.. It is found out what is wrong,one is individual with IVF
    one is on a conveyor belt one

    gets their packet of drugs and everyone is doing the same, all suppressing their hormones and taking the same drugs. The only diffirence between them is that some get pregnant and some don’t.

    While the ethos behind NaPro could be said to be Catholic. It is open to all married couples and it doesn’t cross any ethical boundaries and supports one faith rather than challenge it.
    Endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome syndom are amongthe more common conditions treated when couple find it hard to conceive. There are many techniques open to married Catholic couples having trouble conceiving that are approvedby the Church. So people should not feel they are alone.

    I am no expert on this technique, this information is given by The Galway Clinic for Natural Procreative Technology An Article in The Universe Sunday July 5th 2009.I tell people about this as often as I can.

    I was told yesterday that a neighbours relative who I told about the method and who did not want anymore I.V.F. treatment, after so many disappointments and expense., and a catholic, has just a a baby boy. Thank God.

    I am mentioning this even if those do not believe in what the church teaches about contraception and abortificants
    there is a better way! So trust in The Lord.
    .

  13. The excellent contributions which have been made have pushed me strongly towards publishing a column in the CH. That makes the discussion all the more important, since it will be read by some who have no access to Second Sight. I also had the benefit of a lengthy and intense dialogue with my wife on the subject. She has had full experience of the highs and lows of pregnancy.

    Just to take a couple of points at this stage. The first one is that, in this case, we are not measuring one life against another but taking into account the presumed fact that the baby (but not the mother) will die in any case.

    I agree with Superview’s comment on “abysmal economic and social analysis and loaded argumentative conclusions”. Although I would regard them as questionable rather than abysmal. But I think, and Horace confirms, that the facts and inferences about contraceptive methods in the piece which AMDG commends are correct.

    I like to approach the question of “soul” in a different way. The word “implant” is fine as a metaphor but it may confuse us here. I prefer Aristotle – with his concept that the soul is the form of the body (the organising principle which gives the body life – which is why we “fall apart” following the loss of this form at death).

    On this basis conception must be seen as a biological event which brings about a new form (whether the conception is artificial or natural). It is a new form because it is a new life with a unique combination of instructions for developing towards its own maturity. It is so separate that, as I believe Horace will confirm, pregnancy is something of a battle for resources between this foreign body and the mother’s body.

    Built into these instructions is the ability to develop the powers which we associate with the unique characteristics of human beings. There is no sudden point at which these come into action but a steady and comprehensible physical (including neurological) development.

    If we take the ability for abstract rational thinking as an example, would we say that it was present at the first sign of the spinal column? Or on the day of birth? Or at the first birthday. Or should we wait until the traditional age of 7? Can anyone show me a rationally necessary point at which the conceptus definitely acquires human rights other than at conception?

  14. st.joseph says:

    Quentin I am not too sure what you mean in your second paragraph when you say the presumed fact where the baby will die one in any case
    We are mostly agreed that the baby after fertilaxation and 7 days will not be able to cling to its mother womb as the endometrium has failed to keep it safe because of the use of abortificiants.

    Acording to lead resercher Dr Petra-Herman said “We maintain that the effectiveness of S.T.M (symto thermal method) of N.F.P. is comparable to the effectivness of modern contraception methods oral contraceptives, and is an effective and acceptable method of family planning.The Human Reproduction study found using STM correctly led to a rate of 0.4 pregnancies per 100 women per year.
    For the oral contraceptive pill The Family Planning Association quotes 1 pregnancy per 100 per year,ie 99% effective against N.F.P 99.6%.
    For this the woman does not risk loss of fertility, loss of libido depression, strokes, death from thrombosis etc.

    Nowback to your comment.
    There is a saying that if women had glass tummys they would never have an abortion! And to try and answer your question.

    Scientifically, when the sperm enters he ovum there is a moment when the genetic material organises itself,matching chromosomes and all other genetic material, itra-nucleic and extra-nucleic, as we know thhis cell is different from either parent.I wont continue with that only to say when and if will the soul be genetically discovered is a scientists question.
    We all know what the church teaches.
    Science is work in progress. Theology and philosophy also are works in progress.
    How God must enjoy his people exercising the gifts he has given them.

    I would prefer to balance it with (as this blog is about faith and science) a little of the belief we have based on our faith.
    So when does life human life begin?
    When does the tiny organism developing inside the mother actually become a human being? When is it a real person with all the basic rights to life that all human beings have,particularly the right to life.All the necessary elements that create a new human being when the chromosomes of the father and mother unite, they form an absolutely unigue never to be duplicated human person. From that moment on, any further formation of the person is purely a matter of developement. From that moment of conception, the child grows. And keeps growing until life ends. It obviousley does not have entitlements such as it pension , or 18, or 21 or marriage untill coming of age.And for a mother not to allow it the protection of the womb supposodely the safest place for her child.Something Horace said touched me being.Before I formed thee in the womb I knew thee.

    I have to look at this in a Spiritual sense if we have any faith at all- as we belevein the Resurrection, the Ascension, The Eucharist.All that our faith teaches us, Heaven Life hereafter etc.We can not have faith if we need proof of it all.

    Our Lady- The Blessed Virgin, had faith, She didn’t have proof, She accepted the Word of God.She didnt have scans, ultra sounds, She relied on Grace, as we have the gift of. She didnt ask if Jesus was not a human being until 7 days after conception-or when He had any rights-or perhaps it was inconvenient at this time to have a baby We know He had a Divine nature as well- but She didnot know that at the time-only believed. He is special He is the second Person of the Blessed Trinity as we know, but still He came to share in our human nature so that we can have a share in His. So therefore I firmly believe we have no right to take away a babys life from conception onwards, or anybodys for that matter. And we cannot confuse the issue with questions of the rights of a mother or vice versa over her child. These are always heartbreaking questions . So we should leave it to what the church teaches and try to save both-but to deliberetly end one life when there is a perfect choice- a gift from God in N.F.P.

  15. st.joseph says:

    And its free, which in this day of government cut backs would benefit the economy and also the enviroment from the pollution of artificial hormones.
    Is God trying to tell us something!

  16. Superview says:

    Thank you Quentin.
    And thank you st.joseph: I am afraid I am very resistant to Catholic platitudes, of which your comments are fulsome, which is why I find the Science and Faith context of Second Sight a refreshing experience. But you do well to remind me that faith is ultimately a necessary condition.
    For the time being, however, I am embarked on a quest to see just how much of doctrine and dogma can stand up to a rational and evidence-based scrutiny.
    Quentin, I can do no more than admire Aristotle’s ingenuity (I guess his ideas played a part in the history of transubstantiation’s ‘form and substance’?).
    The conclusion that the soul arrives through a biological event, in simple terms the fertilisation of the egg, is a fascinating proposition. I anticipated this hypothesis which is why I postulated God being compelled to ensoul the embryo in the womb or test tube (because God creates souls?). Speculatively speaking, God being omnipotent can surely choose not to do so – though the result would be a contradiction, a human without a soul?
    You will recall the discussion about the biblical Adam and Eve story and human evolution some months back (which still left open to explanation the extraordinary claim in the Catholic Catechism that, though the Adam and Eve story is accepted as figurative, it still relates to an actual event in human history – but then the stakes are huge) and the question you posed as to when ‘ensoulment’ might have occurred in the evolutionary journey. It raises deep issues in this context – when did the first embryo or embryos possess a soul?
    However, on your last point, I wonder whether it is primarily because of the concept of ensoulment at conception that the embryo/foetus is so fully and completely human, despite its obvious biological immaturity, that it is the full equivalent of the expectant mother and can even surpass her claim to life? This is presumably because the soul is (and can only be) created whole and complete (whatever that means) and the equivalent of any other created soul? Isn’t this the Church’s teaching? Incidentally, I’m sure I’ve read that in Judaism the foetus is seen as the adversary of the mother in terms of the resources required for its survival, and when her life is threatened she has the right to defend herself.
    I know this is sensitive ground, but perhaps if there is a total absence of developed functions and capacities (that is, they do not yet exist) of the core attributes that make a human being then it is only the assertion that there is a soul that enables the claim to be made?

  17. st.joseph. I should have made it clear that in commenting on the comparative value of the life of the unborn baby and the life of the mother, I was commenting on the first paragraph of Superview’s contribution of 29 June. I share your view about human life beginning at conception.

  18. Horace says:

    Quentin says “conception must be seen as a biological event which brings about a new form” – defining form as “the organising principle which gives the body life” – and goes on to emphasise the separateness of this ‘new form’ by pointing out that “pregnancy is something of a battle for resources”.

    Although I do not consider it to be incorrect I am worried by the adversarial emphasis in the last phrase. I am also unsure that I can agree with the notion of an “organising principle”.

    Finally we should remember that to say a ‘person’ comes into being “at the precise moment the egg is fertilised” – while not wrong – is a little too simplistic.
    1) Sometimes the fertilisation gives rise to more than one human being – two, perhaps even more!
    2) Not every fertilisation gives rise to a ‘form’ that will develop into a human being – even if not rejected by the body. (Remember I was present at the birth of an anencephalic infant – and this is only one possible instance).

  19. st.joseph says:

    In to-days copy of the Daily Mail there is an artice about harvesting and freezing the ova of career women. Of 150 attempts to fertilise them only 5 babies have been born. a good read.Just for those interested.

  20. Thanks to Horace for his comments. My intention was not a stress the adversarial but to stress the separate identity of the conceptus which, in the secular world, is often regarded as a disposable appendage of the mother, I had in mind that, in the ordinary way, the conceptus would be rejected by the mother’s womb because, bearing the father’s genes, it is a foreign object. But this rejection is in fact avoided by quite complex biological means. The foetus will also draw on the mother’s resources – such as calcium. She may suffer if she does not use supplements. I am told that morning sickness can feel pretty adversarial.

    Form is used here in its philosophical sense. I am currently sitting on several bits of wood. But these bits of wood are so connected into a united whole that it has the form of a chair. But there are live entities such as vegetables, sentient animals and human beings. It is their form, each essentially different but all sharing life at some level, which makes them into a particular entity. In the case of human beings this is immortal life. It is no coincidence that the Latin for soul is anima, and each of these living items are “animated”. When life is lost they disintegrate.

    The ancients believed that at conception the vegetable form, or soul, was produced by the action of the seed. Later, again by the action the seed, this was replaced by the sentient animal soul with its own form. Finally, by the action of God, the form of the human took its place. There was some argument about how long this needed, but figures like 80 or 100 days, or the “quickening” were quoted. Of course the biology was faulty, and the continuity ot development could not be observed until the coming of the microscope.

  21. st.joseph says:

    I did mentioned I would look forward to expert comments, and I must say I definitely received it. I am more than impressed, and have learned somethings myself.I heard a saying the other day from a priest on E.W.T.N. and that was- when he gained 5 degrees studying for the priesthood in Theology and Science, and some one said to him, ‘you must know everything now, he replied quoting (I think) a Saint. No I don’t, I know nothing campared with all the knowledge that is out there.
    Will we ever know all the Truth, only God knows all. After all He Made the Universe.I try to think of something in the Old Testament what He had said to someone, (maybe Lot or Job) I cant remember or find it, but He said ‘Where were you when I made the Universe and the Heavens etc.It really puts us in our place.

    I have often mentioned the responsibilty of the heirarchy and priests to promote good Marriage Preparation especially with teaching Fertility Awareness.A good course more than halves the divorce rate. Then there are more children in stable relationships and less mental illness of all types in teen years.
    Basic to N.F.P, as I mentioned in an earlier comment, it does help to glue people together and it also respects God as our Creator.
    When God created Adam he took the dust from the air and breathed into it just in the same way that the Spirit (breathe of God) hovered over the deep, Genesis Chapter 1.
    If one can look on conception in that same way as when The Blessed Virgin conceived by the power of Holy Spirit ,at the Immaculate Conception, and the Word became Man.
    I know this sounds too simple for the searching mind seeking proof. But I have a simple mind which enables me to accept this belief as Truth, without further ado.Not that I mind listening to other thoughts!
    Other intersting statistics which might be of interest.
    1.that one third of infertile couples conceive if they learn the natural signs of highest fertility whatever method of determining .
    it
    2.It is a lot cheaper than I.V.F.
    3.Testing hormones at critical point of the cycle can be done accurately when the couple can demonstrate the fertile phase.

    To reiterate on some of the comments first, by Quentin which was very informing-just a few reminders.

    Envoid was the first pill on the market, 50 micrograms synthetic oestrogens. It had high doses of hormones and it was intended to stop ovulation, which it probably did. Then it had severe side effects,hypertension,strokes,heart attacks,( trombosis) which I suffered) and deaths.So they made different combinations
    of different synthetic hormones, 30 micrograms, 20 micrograms, these were expected to stop ovulation, but some women could not tolerate them. So then they made progesterone only of several different synthetic types. These last two types of pills did not allow the lining of the womb (endometrium) to develop and so prevented implantation of the baby or did have enough progestagenic effect to allow the baby to thrive in the thinner endometrium.
    So we do not know how many failed implantations (abortions/ any particular pill has caused.
    But many of the 12-16 week terminations are due to failed contraception. Either user failure or method failure.

    There are still deaths caused by the pill. One reported within the last 12 months in a N.F.P Doctor friend of mine’s local paper and there was one in the national press.

    I would like to thank Quentin for allowing this subject to be aired also all those who took the time to comment.

    I would like to just say Quentin and that is, when you say’Some interesting points are emerging on the issue of which allegedly contraceptive methods are in practice abortifacients’ .
    I believe ‘that the proof is there’.

  22. st.joseph says:

    I mentioned earlier in my comments that the Catholic Herald have on-going comments again on the infallible or infallibility of H.V.
    I would like to say’ While the Theologians and Philosophers argue about infallibility and the priority of conscience, the Scientists have obediently done what Pope Paul V1 asked of them in H.V.n24. “to provide a sufficiently secure basis for a regulation of birth founded on the observance of natural rhythms.
    It is down to our Bishops now to follow their example.
    I seem to be always criticising the heirarchy-but I don’t mean to, if I do it is out of love for the the Lord and His Church.
    I just like to keep them on their toes ‘so to speak- and give them a ‘nudge’now and again.

  23. Iona says:

    There’s a great deal of reading here, which I have now just about accomplished, together with the reference from AMDG, which was very informative.

    Horace (on 29th June) said he finds it difficult to justify the belief that a new human being is present from conception. Is this perhaps simply a failure of imagination; and would it not be even more difficult to justify (or even clarify) a belief that at some point during the gestational period a being which was previously not a human being has now become one?

    Also Horace, you have mentioned being present at the birth of an anencephalic infant, and you seem to take it for granted that this could not be regarded as human. Is this because of the lack of a brain? If someone present had wanted to baptise the newborn, would your attitude have been, “no point, as it isn’t human”?

    Superview (also on 29th June) wonders whether God is “compelled to ensoul” eggs fertilised in a laboratory. Presumably not. We can’t compel God to do anything. If an egg fertilised in a lab is then implanted in someone’s womb and grows in the normal way, and is born, we can assume that this is a human being, of infinite value in God’s eyes, as is each and every human being. If anything else happens to it, we don’t know what God’s view is; and why should we?

    (I’m not too happy with this picture of God “ensouling” a newly-fertilised egg, like a sort of super-scientist standing by with a super-syringe, ready to inject a soul just after the spermatozoon has injected itself)

    “Did God choose to end the two miscarried lives? If so, to what purpose?”
    Does God intend Heaven to be “populated by human souls that have never been born?” How can we know God’s purposes with regard to lives which only He sees? Why do we even think it reasonable that we might be able to guess those purposes?

  24. James H. says:

    I second Iona’s comment – a lot to read (it’s taken me days, between work!) 🙂

    I have long thought that the ‘pro-choice’ justification for the non-personhood of a zygote or foetus depends on pretty arbitrary thresholds – is a human, human at implantation? when a heartbeat is detectable (a favourite on comments pages)? at birth? 28 days after birth (according to Peter Singer)? or when the individual is ‘independent of the mother’? In the latter case, that could take 25 years!

    Humanae Vitae has proved prophetic in many ways. Some may say that’s scarcely surprising.

  25. st.joseph says:

    This thought in unlikley.but we could all belong to one big Soul joined to Life Everlasting since the Immaculate Conception and Incarnation But it could be anything .God knows,-.God is able to do anything He wants.I dont mean to be a ‘heretic’, it is just a thought!!!

  26. Horace says:

    The reason that I find it difficult to justify my belief that a new human being is present from conception is perhaps less due to lack of imagination than due to too much imagination!
    Attaching a time to a soul may simply be a logical fallacy – hence my biblical quote.

    The phrase “a ‘person’ comes into being ‘at the precise moment the egg is fertilised’” is often encountered in discussions about abortion and while I believe that this is true, it is not always and invariably true.

    I mentioned the case of an anencephalic baby as a very obvious and very emotionally charged instance.
    [ I am afraid that I DO take it for granted that a baby without a brain cannot be regarded as a human being.
    In the context of the end of life I hold that “When the brain is dead the person is dead” ( A belief that – I think I am correct in saying – is supported by the ‘Working Group of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences’.).
    Applying this to the case of a “baby without a brain” I cannot believe that such an entity is really a human person. ]

    A much more common if less dramatic example lies in the fact that it is estimated that something like half of all pregnancies miscarry and, while many of these are indeed human beings whose life is terminated prematurely, others have more or less severe abnormalities.
    For example, I understand that in some cases [about one third of those miscarrying before the eighth week] although the sperm and egg have indeed fused, subsequent development has gone so wrong that there is NO foetus associated with the sac or placenta.

  27. st.joseph says:

    Would it make a difference in all our thinking if we were to call our ‘soul’ a spirit.
    When our brain dies our soul or Spirit lives on.

    We dont know what a lot of abortions causes, except the doctors will know.
    I dont believe that a feotus or baby or living soul or Spirit will have to go through this life for their Salvation which has already been won for us on the Cross.
    We are all born of the Spirit now every human being from conception. We are Temples of the Holy Spirit from the beginning.
    Anyones thoughts on this would be appreciated.

  28. Superview says:

    If God is God (a saying of our Bishop) he cannot be inconsistent. If we seek to understand the natural world and God’s actions (or inactions) in it, we are seeking to ‘know’ God, one of the elements in the catechism answer to the Question ‘Why did God make you?’. Is it suggested that there are no-go areas in our enquiries about God?

    It is with a spirit of enquiry that I posed the question about the creation of a human embryo in a test tube and whether God cannot do other than ensoul it. This is because there has been – and still is – the belief that it is God who chooses to create life and in that act ensoulment takes place. But from another perspective it is simply a biological process that can be replicated in the test tube by a human hand. Does this not beg the question, for those who believe that ensoulment takes place when the embryo is created, whether God is compelled to ensoul the resulting embryo?

    But if God is God he cannot be compelled to do anything (except that he must call a circle a circle and a square a square)? It may be, therefore, ensoulment takes place at some later point when, so to speak, God chooses? As the discussion is about abortifacients, and when human life is created is the key fact, and human life is defined as ensouled life, it seems to me to be sensible to address inconsistencies in the argument.

    The same goes with the approach to the loss of life through lost embryos or miscarriage. If they truly are full human beings with souls it seems to me (and to others wanting to understand) to beg the question did God terminate them? I doubt it, because I do not see God intervening in the existence he has created as others do (and in this instance it would be continuous as embryos are lost and miscarriages are taking place every moment). Where is the theological enquiry or consistency when considering the natural fate of life from conception and in the womb?

  29. st.joseph says:

    A very thoughtful comment Superview.

    We could say that a fertilised egg from conception and on its way to the womb-is-not a potential human being but a human being with potential.

    We can not presume what is in Gods mind- but as human beings we are a part of the Body of Christ, He being the Head. One of us maybe the arm, maybe the other a leg and so on.

    We do not know what God has planned for us here -on our way to the Kingdom- we are all on a Pilgrimage-who knows what abortifacants and abortions have interfered with Gods Plan.
    Now this can sound very obscure ,and leave us to think that God is some kind of Father who sits up in Heaven dealing with the situation from above.But He has given us the duty to be custudonians over certain matters.
    Maybe future Priests and Popes have been aborted in the past.

    I heard a comment from I think a priest who said that a lady went to confession to St Pio,( before he died) and he told her to go up to a certain Hill and come back to him ,and then he would give her absolution-I can’t remember how many times he told her to do this-but each time she went up, there was a man standing there dressed in white before her eyes. When she went back again she said to Padre Pio ‘I dont understand this ,who is that man.?
    He said to her ‘That is your son, who you aborted many years ago, who was called to the priesthood. She didn’t tell him this in confession and was rather shocked.

    Now my faith is ‘not’ based on matters like this,but I do believe that the Lord does not want us to interfere with His Creation, especially when it means the unborn child. More so if He has given us a Soul whether it is in the beginning or in the end of life.
    I dont think that it is relevant- can we define a soul?

    I used to think when I was a child that our soul was a big hole in our stomach, and if I sinned a black mark went on it ,and when I went to confession it was wiped off.At least right or wrong it was something to think about, I am not sure how children think of it to day, or even any one for that matter.
    That did not mean that I was frightened of that ‘big man’ with the beard sitting on a cloud, I knew Him as Jesus. Gentle and kind with a big Sacred Heart. Maybe that is what our soul should resemble.

  30. Vincent says:

    Reading through this admirable correspondence on a subject with great emotional content, I have little to add.
    There is just one point that seems to confuse matters, although attempts have been made to clarify this.
    It is convenient to speak of two separate entities: body and soul as if they were two parts like engine and car. But if i go back to Quentin’s analogy of the stool, I see how misleading this is.
    Of course one can speak of the material of the stool and the form of the stool as two separate things – one material and one abstract. But in reality the stool is a single thing which is wood made into the form which it needs to fit it to the job of being a stool. Similarly a human being, at whatever stage of life, must have a substance in a form which fits it to be a human being. the question of God choosing or not choosing to ensoul has no meaning. Either this biological entity has the form of a human being made in the image and likeness of God or it hasn’t.
    Horace argues that an anencephalic embryo lacks the fundamental substance which enables it to have the form of a human being. He may be right. (In practice, and particularly if the mother wished, I would baptise the baby conditionally: “If you are a human being, I baptise you…etc.”)

  31. Horace says:

    On the whole I agree with Vincent.
    Particularly with the last paragraph.
    Incidentally on the occasion that I have described the baby was not baptised (even though everyone in the theatre was a Catholic) and as far as I know the mother was not told. But that was 60 years ago.

  32. st.joseph says:

    There are three kinds of Baptism.Baptism of water ,Baptism of Blood and Baptism of Desire.

    I believe that Our Lord looks on these babies with His Merciful Heart, and I can’t think that He would reject a child of His because of not being Baptised.
    We do have a Glorified body when we reach Heaven, and where I respect Horace and Vincents thoughts on the anencephalic baby, through what may be an act of nature-of which many babies die before birth . I believe God will call them unto Himself and call them His beloved’s.After all none of us may have a brain when we move on. I thing God has something more beautiful for us in the Beatific Vision ,that we dont see with our brain.
    I also believe that Our Blessed Mother is their working on their behalf keeping them all under Her Mantle.

    I sometimes wonder if the subject of abortificants is easier on ones conscience,when ensoulment , in ones mind ,is delayed for that reason. Then the sin will be a contraceptive action instead of abortion. This makes it easier for the Heirarchy.
    I think Theologians should come out positivelyon this subject to clear up any misunderstandings. If they have ,why are we questioning it?

  33. Horace says:

    st,joseph: “none of us may have a brain when we move on”
    Then why the emphasis on “Resurrection of the Body”?

  34. st.joseph says:

    Thank you Horace.

    I am speaking in a Mystical Sense.
    I am sure there are many who would not wish to come back in the bodies we left.
    We hopefully will have a Glorified Body like Christ even though He has or had a human Soul and body on earth If you remember the apostles recognised Him with the ‘Breaking of Bread.’
    His presence in the Eucharist is known to us.
    There is so much we do not understand in our life here on earth, but it will be all revealed when we come into the Presence of God and see what Jesus meant when He said ‘Eyes had not seen or ears have not heard the wonders that God has prepared for those who love Him.
    It is a bit presumptious to say that a brain gets us into Heaven,
    I would say the Soul will get us there before that.
    We can not be the judge of any disability of a person, They have more chance than a lot of ‘brainless’people I can think of.!

  35. Superview says:

    I can see entirely that the idea of a human being without a soul is, for a Christian, a contradiction in terms. But, also from what I can see, it is obviously by assertion rather than by evidence or even scriptural support that we can say the soul is there from conception. Again, it is a simple and compelling argument that life begins with conception, and therefore the soul must be created – by God, for only he can create a soul – at the same time. And yet there are problems with it.

    I remain troubled by the test tube scenario – it is a decision not by God but by a laboratory technician to fertilise the egg and I do think it is entirely correct to say, if the proposition that conception equals a soul is asserted, that God has to ensoul the result. You could say it is because a chair is a chair no matter who makes it, but I think this only really works, in this context, at the level of the beginning of life is the beginning of life, which an atheist would have no difficulty with at all.

    I think Horace mentioned the case of twins, and it seems there are grounds for thinking that a later stage of development may be more apposite – I came across this book on Amazon and it addresses these issues, and others covered on Second Sight, with a remarkably generous provision to read substantial parts of each chapter on the Amazon website:

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Christian-Religion-Biotechnology-Decision-making-International/dp/1402031467/ref=sr_1_65?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1278850708&sr=1-65#noop

    Again, how does our behaviour towards the ensouled embryo reflect our belief? We do not make any attempt to baptise early post-conception losses, or, more practically possible, but with evident difficulty and giving rise to other emotions, the various later stages lost by miscarriage? Is this because it is inappropriate to give personhood to the foetus in these circumstances (though ‘it is made in the image and likeness of God’)? On the other hand, we can be grateful that the Limbo solution is now binned, and I agree that God is certainly unlikely to be troubled by Augustine’s theory of original sin (st.joseph puts it differently but we have the same conclusion, I think). So there is no reason to worry about the absence of baptism?

    I do appreciate that whatever notions we may have about the soul, and the resulting human person, we should act prudentially; yet I do feel there is something unreal about the debate as to whether a contraceptive which acts within hours or days of the sexual union is an abortifacient, when nature deals as fatal a hand to the created population of embryos as anything man can do.

  36. st.joseph says:

    Superview I can understand your dilema.
    But when the first Test Tube baby, Louise Brown was born, the Holy Father welcomed her into the world and told her that God loved her, as He did all children that are conceived.

    But that does not make it right.
    The irony is that so many are washed away down the sink.all human embryo’s. The same as embryo’s, who are aborted by what we call contraception-and this is what this blog is all about-abortion through ignorance.
    But it is not ignorance to-day. It is not ‘wanted’to be accepted that embryo’s are flushed away,down toilets to be precise.
    Natural abortions ,we call miscarriages, That is natures way,.
    if you read AMDG Web site, it explains about the method that are abortifacants. Without going into the method used naturally it is not just the case that you say in your last paragraph.
    I believe that our bishops and priests do not wish to speak about this ,and would rather close their ears to the truth of the matter. Perhaps it has been left too late now to do a U turn and proclaim H.V to be right.

  37. st.joseph says:

    Superview. You may be interested in looking into the National Catholic Bioethics Centre.The President is John M Haas PHD.S.T.L..www.ncb centre.org. It will tell one all that is needed to know.

  38. st.joseph says:

    Horace ,thankyou, my spelling is not up to scratch!

  39. Iona says:

    Horace – it’s going back a few days, but what I said was not LACK of imagination, but FAILURE of imagination. Some things are next to impossible to imagine (like Heaven; or a 4-dimensional object), – but that doesn’t mean they can’t exist. Your Biblical quote, “before I formed you in the womb I knew you”, indicates an area where imagination fails: our thinking is constrained by our concept of time, and related concepts such as before and after, and more fundamentally, cause-and-effect; but God is not subject to any such constraints. It is not that He sees what’s going to happen before it does, but He sees it all because for Him there is no “before”. He knows us as individual souls independently of our progress through life including our conception.

    Superview is concerned that the medical specialist injecting a sperm into an ovum in a petri dish – or however it’s done – is constraining God to act, i.e. to ensoul the resulting conceptus. However, many attempts at IVF fail, only a few succeed, and one could argue that the successes are individuals whose existence God wills, and who would have existed in any case even without the petri dish and the medical specialist (sometimes women become unexpectedly pregnant ofter having been assured that their chances of doing so are vanishingly small; maybe the women successfully impregnated after IVF actually would have got pregnant naturally). However, I realise this argument doesn’t work in the case of cloned embryos, – or, won’t work if anyone does succeed in cloning a human embryo which then develops and becomes recognisably human.

    Superview is also puzzling over whether God terminates the estimated 50% of pregnancies which are almost non-starters, or which end in natural miscarriage, and does “not see God intervening in the existence he has created”; but why not? We all die at some point, and a God’s eye view may see an individual’s existence as fulfilled just as surely in a few days or weeks of life in utero as in 20 or 60 or 90 years of life ex utero (if there is such a term as “ex utero”).

  40. st.joseph says:

    God is Omnipotent-Omnipresent and Omniscient.
    Having Great and absolute Power-Present everywhere at the same time-and knowing everything.For Him nothing is impossible!

    To-day is the Feast Day of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. when the great Miracle of the Sun appeared in the sky at Fatima and Our Lady appeared as Our Lady of
    Carmel- with the Child Jesus and St Joseph,.70,000 people saw that Miracle of the Sun.
    St Joseph and the Child Jesus appeared to Bless the world.
    Our Lady also appeared as Our Lady of Dolours.

    July 16th was the last appearance of Our Lady at Lourdes.

    Please pray especially to-day for the conversion of England and the whole World.

  41. Horace says:

    Iona
    Mea culpa – I should indeed have said FAILURE rather than LACK. I agree with everything you say and you have put very competently ideas that I was groping for in my biblical quote.
    In particular I appreciate “our thinking is constrained by our concept of time” and I hope to be able to come back to that in a later discussion.
    I also agree that it is “even more difficult to justify (or even clarify) a belief that at some point during the gestational period a being which was previously not a human being has now become one”.

    However I was looking for a scientific justification of Quentin’s statement “conception must be seen as a biological event which brings about a new form . . . . it is a new life”.
    The trouble here is the word ‘conception’.
    If conception is defined as ‘the biological event which brings about a new life’ there is no problem, in spite of the evident tautology. However, if conception is defined as ‘the moment when the sperm fuses with the egg’ then there are problems, as I tried to indicate.

  42. st.joseph says:

    Horace- I am trying to understand your problems when you say’if conception is defined as the ‘moment when the sperm fuses with the egg. Why would that be a problem. That is when we become one ,seperate from our parents. Whether it be a biological or a spiritual individual.
    Let me just say for instance, if I had not implanted in my mothers womb and the next month she became pregnant again-would that be still me? or may be my brother or sister! I think our personalities come into being at fertilization-even if I was aborted at that stage, I would still be me.

    We did not know much about how the cycle worked until the 19th Century ,there was some knowledge but before that it was just the semen and menstrual blood, they didnt know about sperm and egg.They thought that semen carried in it little human beings (from drawings of little human beings) there were all sorts of different concepts-..

    According to Professor Janet Smith speaking on the subject, and she says ‘ she thought it was in 1853 when the question was put to the Vatican ‘that if couples were having recourse to the infertile period-did confessors have to talk them out of that and the answer given was a definite ‘No’ a very specific answer ‘dont trouble them’. The only problem being that the infertile time and fertile time was not really known it was back to front- so babies were born.Bad biology and physiology at the time .

    In 1930 in Casti Canubbi Pope pius X1 approved of the infertile time for the purpose of family planningThere were a lot of Theological question asked . Then between1853 and 1930s the
    Ova was discovered and Rythmn was enlightened, but not quite right again. Nothing was know about mucus etc, until the 60, when Dr Billings made the advances.

    I am saying this for those who may be in the dark with all the progress we have made with Science.
    I find it amazing that we are goinginto Gods area about the soul.We say conception in the womb-but that would be obvious, as knowledge about the ova &sperm was not known.Maybe that is the meaning of the Scriptural saying ‘I knew you before I formed you in the womb’ Perhaps God was telling us about the Fallopian Tube.
    I am just trying to put comments forward as suggestions-if anyone has anything to add it would be good to hear them.

  43. Horace says:

    When I say that “if conception is defined as ‘the moment when the sperm fuses with the egg’ then there are problems”, I am thinking;- on the one hand that not one but two or more human beings may result;- and on the other that things may go wrong with the process of development so that not only may the infant suffer from deformity but this may be so severe that the result cannot be considered a human being. Perhaps the most severe, if least emotionally disturbing, situation is when the sac forms but there is NO EMBRYO at all. These are the cases which may give rise to problems of definition.

  44. st.joseph says:

    Horice. When would you differeniate Conception from Fertilisation?

  45. Horace says:

    If you accept the meaning of the word “Conception” as ‘the biological event which brings about a new life’ then conception is a particular instance of “Fertilisation” defined as ‘the moment when the sperm fuses with the egg’.

  46. st.joseph says:

    Thank you Horace.
    Please don’t think that I am questioning your authority on this, but I do not see a problem with this.I am just interested in finding out for my own thoughts.

    I know we don’t know how many fertilised embryos are aborted through natural causes-but we don’t know if this is an act of God ,or as we say an act of nature.Only we can thank The Lord that He has taken them from any suffering.
    What causes deformanities in these babies from stage one- or when they continue in the womb You obviousley have more knowledge of this as you have worked in the proffession ,and must be aware of some very disturbing sights.
    All I believe is ,and I must think this way as a mother-and that is if I had ,and I thank God that I haven’t-but a baby that was conceived or fertilised abnormal- I would like to believe that it was taken up to Heaven and its soul would be in the next life.
    You would know this better than me but I often wonder if a lot of the causes are from the continued use of artificial contraceptives or maybe Spermacides.
    Thank you again for your comments.

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