Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Contraception and the beginning of life (part 1)

I often find the question 'what does a church leader actually do?' because there's so much variety that neat categories rarely fit. Plus some of the things I do have little value to a non-believer. Preparing talks? Very productive.

Anyway, here's a question I was emailed this week to get my head around.
"Sorry about this but I would value your opinion on this topic! I only just found out this week that some pro-lifers believe that some of the most common methods of contraception can cause an early abortion. I have always used pills until now, and I have recently been considering the Depo injection and Implanon, the implant, but apparently all of these use, as one of their effects, a hormone which discourages a fertilised egg from embedding in the womb.

From my conversations with Christians so far, it seems there are different opinions on the stage at which a pregnancy begins. I wondered if you could contribute your pearl of wisdom? Do you believe that conception happens at the moment an egg is fertilised, in which case I risk causing an abortion if I use pills, the injection or the implant? Or do you believe that a person comes into being at the moment the fertilised egg embeds in the womb?"
So, a nice easy one then. Not one that comes up in most people's day jobs. I'll post my reply tomorrow but I'd be interested to hear what other people would have said. Or you can wait until tomorrow and critique my response.


Blue, with a hint of amber on 11 November 2008 at 11:11 said...

I always feel the argument that contraception happens before implantation is severely let down by the fact that hundreds of millions of fertilised embryos are passed through the normal menstrual cycle every year without implanting, for entirely natural reasons.

If fertilisation was the point of conception, rather than implantation, then hundreds of millions of souls every year would exist and yet never make it past the mothers menstural cycle, let alone be born.

If people believe innocent children go to heaven then that would mean the population of heaven would be made up of more people who have never been implanted, let alone born, than those who have been born! More people who have never been implanted to their mother's womb than those who have accepted christ having been born.

If people believe that some children are chosen by God for salvation and others aren't then it would make the population of Hell filled with hundreds of millions of souls in torment who have never been implanted to a womb, let alone be born.

For these reasons I find the argument that life begins at fertilisation rather than implantation somewhat difficult to swallow - as it could make the populations of heaven or hell full of more people who have never been born than have been born.

And those numbers are not dependent on any human decision or medical problem, it is just part of the normal make up of the human reproductive cycle and the natural processes of fertilisation and implantation.

"You knit me in my mother's womb" implies to me a post implantation development of an embryo - because I am unconvinced a multiplying egg in a petri dish in a lab is being knit together by God in the same way, until it is implanted in a womb.

Having said all that I am very interested in the different sides of the story and am definitely prepared to move ground. I am as "unconvinced" by stuff I don't believe than I am "convinced" as to what I do believe - if that makes sense.

beatthedrum on 11 November 2008 at 13:10 said...

I agree with the post implantation stand. For the reasons already outlined.

On a similar topic Mark Driscoll comments on IVF treatment saying that if youhave IVF then all embryos should be used as to not use them would be the same as abortion.

Lil Ms. Independent on 12 November 2008 at 03:12 said...

I guess I am on the same page as everyone else. I'm not quite sure when life begins, but I believe it begins sometime after implantation. My husband and I have been talking about alternative methods of birth control for health reasons, so I would love to see what others think on this topic. Some ancient cultures used to believe that the woman had the ability to magically create life in herself, while others believed she was merely the vessel for the being the man had inside him. I think this is something we are still learning about, and in 100 years people might laugh at the things we take as facts now. That said, I've even heard different things about different brands of the pill, the shot, the patch, IUDs, and all I really want is something a little closer to nature, something that will be safe for my body while not giving me moral issues.

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