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Rev. Daniel Winter

February 25, 2014  12:08pm

Our church takes all loss of the pre-born seriously. We run GriefShare for those who have lost their pre-born babies due to miscarriages and many couples have found help there including two couples right now. Their grief is real. Our church also brings a very strong pro-life message to Canada from our Nation's Capital and will be hosting the first ever evangelical initiated national pro-life summit on March 1st, 2014: www.rescuesummit.com Canada is the only western nation without any laws protecting the unborn. Sex-selection abortion (female gendercide) is our newest scourge and is rampant in our big cities. We will be featuring many aspects at this Summit - including the voice of the disabled (Joni-Eareckson Tada), the history behind the Pro-Choice movement (R.C. Sproul) and adoption/fostering by Bruce Clemenger, president of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. We will also be offering a strong voice from those working with women who are grieving over their abortion.

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Jamie Rohrbaugh

January 22, 2013  9:04am

I can't imagine the loss of a child and I don't want to. Whether the child has been born yet or not is immaterial. The loss is still a total loss, a future and a hope snuffed out before time. I grieve for those families who have experienced this. As for our Christian response, doesn't Romans 12:15 tell us to weep with those who weep?

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Pamela Mathews

January 21, 2013  7:45pm

The loss of miscarriage is real and painful. I've been there. But if we want to talk about ethical/theological inconsistency: If life really begins at conception, we should also be working through the issue that 50% of pregnancies do not make it to term, with many women/couples not even being aware they were ever pregnant? Should we be mourning all of those deaths, even if unknown? Do all those embryos go to heaven? Or maybe there actually is some progression of life from fertilization through viability?

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erin gentry

January 21, 2013  6:08pm

Thank you so much for this post. My husband and I miscarried October 2012 - our first child - after trying to get pregnant for two years. Like you, I'm sure I said something hurtful (without intending to cause pain, of course) to a miscarriage mama, but now that I've been there, I see the loss for what it is: earth shattering. Important. Deeply wounding. Difficult to heal from emotionally. Etc. I understood those things on an intellectual level before, but walking through that grief has truly opened my eyes to not just the pain for the parents, but to the insensitivity and mysterious lack of importance that many in the church seem to lend to miscarriages. Today I blogged my thoughts on your fantastic article (http://thejinglejangle.blogspot.com), linking up to this entry and asking my friends/readers for a healthy dialogue on the topic. I hope that deeper understanding and kinder words are brought about from it. Thank you again for your thought-provoking, important, timely article!

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erin gentry

January 21, 2013  4:56pm

Thank you so much for this post. My husband and I miscarried October 2012 - our first child - after trying to get pregnant for two years. Like you, I'm sure I said something hurtful (without intending to cause pain, of course) to a miscarriage mama, but now that I've been there, I see the loss for what it is: earth shattering. Important. Deeply wounding. Difficult to heal from emotionally. Etc. I understood those things on an intellectual level before, but walking through that grief has truly opened my eyes to not just the pain for the parents, but to the insensitivity and mysterious lack of importance that many in the church seem to lend to miscarriages. Today I blogged my thoughts on your fantastic article, linking up to this site. Hopefully a better dialogue is started and responses are kinder. http://thejinglejangle.blogspot.com/2013/01/on-grieving-miscarriag e-as-christians.html Thank you again for your thought-provoking, important, timely article!

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S Griffin

January 18, 2013  3:25am

I feel all across the board people need to realize the hurt families have after miscarriages and not criticize those women who are grieving the loss of their unborn. Their pain is real.

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J Thomas

January 17, 2013  5:59pm

There is never a time when a person will revisit the loss of a child (no matter which state of development) and feel no sense of loss. The parsing of developmental stages into palatable language does not, despite the effort, relieve the memory of loss. We're talking about a powerful emotion that echoes through the limbic system enough to generate its own properties of recoil and emotional avoidance. The question of who the child would have been will never cease to linger. As with any loss, the only thing that changes is our ability to deal with the loss in a matter that doesn't continue to tear at the heart.

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NoVA Reader

January 17, 2013  4:53pm

(cont from below) Sorry I could not fit this in the last post - (link to a meta-analysis of IVF and major malformations completed in 2011 by Case Western. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21625967)

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NoVA Reader

January 17, 2013  4:52pm

(continued from below) And, the studies on the negative effects of the children are also inconclusive – you often have older mothers using IVF, multiple births, pre-term births…the best studies have to account for all those factors. And even those that do show little to no increased risk. But, again, the Catholic/Christian position is that all life is sacred – including those with disabilities, disease, genetic disorders, etc. so this discussion could be expanded far beyond the controversy of IVF. Whether parents should conceive a child knowing it could have an increased risk of any type of disorder is an ethical issue that could apply to any parent - Christian, Catholic, atheist, or otherwise. And if you deem it unethical to conceive a child with increased risks – what does that mean for older mothers? Those foregoing birth control even as they age? Should all parents have genetic tests prior to their attempts to conceive? Those who undergo IVF are required to.

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NoVA Reader

January 17, 2013  4:42pm

I'm not Catholic so in my case, I'll claim ignorance and poor catechism. :) But I stand by my position that these perceptions persist, even among the Catholic faithful, even if they are misguided. Regarding the discussion on AR and health risks, I have experienced OHSS - uncomfortable but almost always temporary. Regarding increased cancer risk for the mother - the studies are far from conclusive and the majority show no increased risk in breast or uterine cancer. But, in either case, I'm not sure that negative health risks for the mother are the correct basis for foregoing AR techniques. Especially since the Catholic position against birth control results in multigravidity - and the health risks associated with a high number of pregnancies and childbirth are MUCH more established than any health risks associated with IVF.

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Kamilla Ludwig

January 17, 2013  1:11pm

NoVA, In answer to your question, in all seriousness, there are three basic explanations for that: 1) Ignorance 2) Poor catechesis 3) Rebellion If you really want to understand the Catholic position on these matters, you need to start with three documents: 1) Humanae Vitae 2) Donum Vitae 3) Dignitas Personae From there, it would be a hood idea to,look at the health effects of pursuing various ART procedures - effects on both the woman and her future children, including OHSS and cancer for the woman as well as a doubled risk of serious birth defects for children conceived via ART. I know CT isn't Catholic but it's time for Protestants to recognize that HV was the single most prophetic religious document of the 20th century. (Not fond of the new design that removes formatting when comments are posted)

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NoVA Reader

January 17, 2013  12:15pm

(continued from below): Again, for me, as I explored the ethics of IVF, I looked at the teachings of various churches and bioethicists for guidance. And I mentioned the Catholic position as a smaller part of my overall analysis, as part of the broader spectrum of thought.

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NoVA Reader

January 17, 2013  12:13pm

Regarding the Catholic position on marital sex…my understanding is that the Church teaches the procreative and unitive nature of sex cannot be separated. So, IVF is prohibited because it is procreation without sex. Likewise, sex without the possibility of procreation is also forbidden/frowned upon/discouraged, etc. I thought that is why oral sex was, at one point, expressly prohibited – that while the Church holds that marital sex has purposes other than pro-creation (like martial unity, bonding, pleasure, etc.), openness to procreation is a prerequisite to legitimate/permissible martial sex. I am happy to be corrected on the official teachings of the Church but I know that my perceptions do persist among many Christians and even some Catholics. For example, if my understanding of Catholic doctrine has no merit, why are married Catholic couples who know that they are infertile asking if it is all right to still have sex? (The debate rages online…)

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Kamilla Ludwig

January 16, 2013  10:42pm

NoVA, You have a very confused view of bioethics and moral theology. For instance, "Catholic position of sex-only-for-the-purpose-of-conception" is not even close to the Catholic teaching. The Church has long held that the marital act has two purposes - procreative and unitive. Having sex when you are fertile, knowing an embryo might not implant, causing an early miscarriage or spontaneous abortion is in no way to *cause* and abortion. I agree that experience is not the only path to wisdom. In fact, the emotions that can color our judgments are often a bar to wisdom in the midst of struggle. That is why we have not been left on our own, to work out our own ethical journeys. The same moral precepts apply to all of us, no matter how difficult our individual circumstances.

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Sarah Flashing

January 16, 2013  9:24pm

NoVA Reader, you are the one who insisted some people cannot participate in the discussion when you stated: ---"As an aside - unless you, yourself, personally have faced the pain of infertility, please don't post comments about adoption, hypotheticals about what you would do, etc."--- I'm merely showing the absurdity of your words. I would never exclude anyone from the discussion because they haven't gone through it at all or in a similar way.....or if they aren't trained in the field. Exaggeration was necessary to make that point. Sorry you missed it.

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NoVA Reader

January 16, 2013  7:29pm

So I brought up worthy discussion points but you suggest to me that I not post any of them? Thanks for the suggestion but I guess I'll post whatever I want. My infertility comment was an attempt to preemptively ward off the lectures about how I should have adopted, or am too devoted to my own genetic material, etc...which I heard plenty of as I worked through my ethical journey. And, just as experience is not the only path to wisdom, neither is training as a theological bioethicist required.

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Sarah Flashing

January 16, 2013  4:30pm

"As an aside - unless you, yourself, personally have faced the pain of infertility, please don't post comments about adoption, hypotheticals about what you would do, etc. " ....you made some comments worthy of discussion, but based upon your last comment, I would suggest that until you are trained as theological bioethicist, please do not post comments about such matters. As if wisdom is only found in experience.... By the way...I did experience infertility and suffered PID as a result of my medical treatment.

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NoVA Reader

January 16, 2013  4:14pm

(cont from below) ...Do you see how silly it becomes to judge someone as not pro-life enough using embryos and miscarried babies as fodder? After all, now that you also know that you will miscarry half the embryos you create, why are you more ethical than a Christian who enters an IVF clinic and creates their embryos in an exacting manner (when in both cases, the intent is to give each one it's absolute best shot at life). Through my journey, I lost embryos. Sometimes the lab made decisions I had no control over. And in a moment of fear, I also let one thaw without transferring. Now, for my fourth child, I am paying extra to only create one transferable embryo per cycle. But I wouldn't judge someone else as not pro-life enough if they arrived at a different ethical conclusion. As an aside - unless you, yourself, personally have faced the pain of infertility, please don't post comments about adoption, hypotheticals about what you would do, etc.

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NoVA Reader

January 16, 2013  3:56pm

I am not sure what emotion/action this article is meant to invoke. In fact, it smacks of a common Christian practice of moral one-upmanship. When faced with infertility I researched the science of embryos because I wanted to make an ethical decision that respected life. Through this, I learned that half of all human embryos are spontaneously aborted on their own. With that knowledge, I began to wonder if the Catholic position of sex-only-for-the-purpose-of-conception was the most ethical - after all, would you have sex knowing you could be causing an "abortion/destruction of an embryo" half the time? Or is it better to stop an embryo from starting in the first place with pre-conception birth control? OR somehow, if by conceiving naturally, we are aborting half our embryos - is IVF actually MORE ethical since by creating only a few a embryos and implanting all of those, we may lose none/very few along the way? Do you see how silly it becomes to judge someone as not pro-life enough?

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Sarah Flashing

January 16, 2013  3:47pm

Janet...the gist...to quote the article..."But Dollar...points out that some pockets of the pro-life community likewise don't acknowledge that a human life was lost." I am responding directly to this, not the therapeutic/ministry concerns--absolutely valid concerns--but not the point here. As I said, it would be correct to say that this problem exists in pockets of churches -- because not all churches and those who profess faith in Christ are pro-life, some are pro-choice (e.g. Ellen Painter Dollar) -- and this is where this problem resides, not pockets in the pro-life community. Certainly Courtney does a great job highlighting the therapeutic/ministry concern, but that is separate from the claim of what the pro-life community may or may not be acknowledging about the moral status of the embryo.

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Louis Hemmings

January 16, 2013  3:45pm

we shouldn't stop at miscarriage, stillbirth or abortion. there is also the pro-life issue of helping families in practical ways with disadvantaged babies & children

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JANET W

January 16, 2013  3:14pm

Sarah .... but the truth is that pockets of the pro-life community ARE inconsistent in grieving for lost fetus'. I'm not sure where the disagreement lies. You, acknowledge that churches aren't always the best at dealing with miscarriages -- if these aren't "pockets of the pro-life community", then who is? Just because a pro-life person can intellectually acknowledge that a miscarried fetus is a human being doesn't mean that they are as active in grieving for that loss as they are for the lives lost to abortion. I think the article is very valid and speaks to a pro-life issue that is rarely addressed.

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Sarah Flashing

January 16, 2013  1:20pm

I'm not sure what "pockets of the pro-life community" Ellen Dollar is referring to. If she is referring to protestant CHURCHES, she would would have a point. Reproductive technologies are being utilized by Christians that put embryos at risk every day and the CHURCH has failed to provide proper education for thinking thru these issues from a biblical worldview. Miscarriage is another aspect of this education. But to say that "pockets of the pro-life community" are inconsistent in identifying embryos as human life at its earliest stage is to not be aware of their/our work. Not only do we recognize that life from the moment of conception is a human life we are fully aware of the grief of miscarriage & that it means a life has been lost. As a member of the pro-life community, I have testified before a state legislature on the life-ending nature of embryonic stem cell research as well as the health risks to young women donating eggs--we understand miscarriage perfectly well.

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JANET W

January 16, 2013  12:57pm

A very thought-provoking article. I didnt' expect to see it here, given the recent articles that have been posted lately. It definitely made me think.

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Karen Smith

January 16, 2013  12:23pm

Fascinating article, and very true - though it wasn't what I hoped for when I saw the headline. Where is the argument for a complete pro-life ethic - one that grieves for those lost to miscarriage, rails against allowing doctors to murder children, supports those that need aid to survive, weeps for those it cannot aid, and mourns for those that governments legally murder?

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Abby Hummel

January 16, 2013  11:53am

There is a huge disconnect in evangelical culture about life. Because it seems like, if you look at what you hear from the pulpit, that life begins at conception when it works out for us politically, but is just a little blip on the road to having a "real" baby if the child dies naturally before some arbitrary half-way point in a pregnancy. Isn't that what we hear? "It's really common - you'll probably have another baby again soon!" I walked out of a "sanctity of human life" sermon after one of my miscarriages because, at 20 minutes in, the pastor never touched on the parents who experienced pregnancy loss. Thanks for speaking up!

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