Saturday, January 14, 2012

Fetal Cells Heal Baby’s Mother

I read a very interesting article today entitled: Unborn child just a ‘parasite’? Cutting edge science shows fetal cells heal mother for life. It is a very interesting read.

My mind immediately jumped to 1 Timothy 2:15. I don’t think that St. Paul was referring to this link between baby and mother in this context, but my mind jumped here nonetheless. But since St. Paul was speaking by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, it is possible that the Lord was revealing something that we would not discover until a couple of millennia later. Even if this is so, it is not the primary point of the text. Still, it is an interesting thought.

Certainly this discovery would seem to provide a sense of explanation for the strong ties that mothers and their children have throughout life. Perhaps it also gives some information regarding why women have for so long outlived men. Perhaps also there is some explanation regarding why mothers tend to have such amazing stamina for long term care giving when everyone else in the family is sickly and weak. There are of course other factors, but this does leave one wondering about this particular one.

At the very least it brings to mind this wonderful passage from the Psalms:

Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee. For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:12-16)

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american said...

The phenomenon described in this nontechnical and highly biased article is called microchimerism and has not been documented extensively in humans. To date, the only extensive research into microchimerism has been performed in mice, which leads to zero conclusions about its function or even presence in humans. And if all the claims in this “article” are correct, a fetus still maintains a parasitic relationship with the pregnant person because it cannot survive without leeching off the host, and the host receives no appreciable benefit from the relationship (especially not any benefit that overrides the harmful effects of pregnancy)

This is also not breaking news. Biologists have known about microchimerism for years; however, there is very little evidence to suggest that pregnancy is beneficial in humans. Additionally, there is some (but again, little) evidence that suggests that the microchimeric state is harmful to the pregnant person.

Pregnancy is dangerous by its own right- almost half of all pregnant people in the U.S. experience maternal* morbidity. When you add in the exchange of cells between potentially incompatible organisms, the potential for harm to the pregnant person grows higher.

This “article” is offensive on multiple levels: for one, it is a tool for the anti-choice movement to erase the experiences of pregnancy. “Oh look, some stray cells MIGHT find their way to the right organ and MIGHT help you ward off heart disease or cancer. Maybe. That totally makes up for nine months of gestation, labor, and childbirth, right?”

It is also offensive in the way that all anti-choice propaganda is offensive: it fails to recognize that fetuses do not have special rights that allow them to hijack another person’s body. Until the anti-choice movement attempts to make living organ donation mandatory, they don’t have a leg to stand on.

Not Alone +++ PAS said...

Dear angry American,

I was very surprised to see your comment. I was not expecting any out-lashing on this topic. But I thank you for sharing your thoughts. That is not a platitude, but a sincere acknowledgment that you have informed me of a reaction that I had not anticipated. I do not wish to argue, especially angrily, but I will respond to some of your presumptions with facts that you have ignored or avoided. This is an important discussion that should be considered in view of facts rather than opinions. Certainly both the “rights” as and the well being of women should not be ignored or downplayed. So let’s examine this more fully and objectively.

Naturally the article is biased. It is written from a perspective that life is a gift and not a choice, a gift from God through which we each are brought into existence to enjoy life together. It is written from the presumption that life is not ours to choose to end for another.

Your comments are even more severely biased. You are presuming that the new life that has formed in the mother is a nonentity that somehow invaded the mother’s body. Sadly, I must call this ignorant or dishonest or both. This new life did not invade the mother’s body but was produced by the mother’s body and her union with another body. In relatively rare cases this union is against the woman’s will, but is usually consensual. But the new life most certainly cannot be said to be an invasive organism. Half came from the mother’s body and half from the father’s body.

Morever, this implantation of the embryo is in perfect accord with the design of the mother’s body. Her body is designed to work this way. Her genetic makeup that she received from her mother and father guarantees that she will produce ova that will be periodically released to be fertilized if conjugation occurs within that natural cycle. This is not in any sense an invasion by a parasitic organism, but the natural reproductive cycle of the woman’s body.

The woman’s body is in control of the entire process. Her body produces absolutely everything that allows the embryo to remain and grow. Her body produces the means of supplying nutrients to the growing fetus. Her body regulates how long the fetus is permitted to remain in her body and finally determines the appropriate time for parturition. The fetus has absolutely no control over any of the process.

To equate this to a parasitic invasion is to ignore everything that is known about the reproductive functioning of women.

Not Alone +++ PAS said...

The life within a pregnant woman is 100% human and the pure result of the genetic code of humanity. It is not a mutation, nor an aberration, nor an invasion. It is the means through which the race is propagated and preserved. It never happens by accident. The reproductive reality of sexual intercourse may not be rightly accounted by the participants, but the activity is always intentional, sometimes one-sided, but always intentional. Thus the life that is produced is not accidental. It happens exactly according the biological design of the body.

While it is certainly true that microchimerism can have both deleterious and beneficial effects, to say that this “has not been documented extensively in humans” is simply untrue. A very quick Internet search proves this to be a false statement. Morever to say “there is very little evidence to suggest that pregnancy is beneficial in humans” is beyond any sense of honest appraisal.

First, without pregnancy there would be no humans to argue the point. But more importantly, this completely counters the testimony of countless mothers who tell of the positive effects of their pregnancies. Certainly not all are so blessed, but most do experience these benefits, which are also verified medically.

Pregnancy is a burden upon the woman. Much is required of her body and her spirit. This is factual. She provides the ovum. She provides the alterations to her reproductive tract through which the gestational home is created. She provides every bit of nourishment for the growing fetus. Sometimes terrible complications also occur, sometimes causing anguish and even death. This is factual. But this does not nullify the other facts. It should cause us each to give everlasting thanks for our mothers and the many sacrifices that they made on our behalf.

It should also move us to compassion for the rest of humanity who depend upon such loving mothers. It should move us to look beyond our own selfishness and take into account that pregnancy is not something to be despised but honored and praised and protected. For pregnancy is a gift, not a curse, even though it may be a fearful condition for women to face. Life is what “makes up for nine months of gestation, labor, and childbirth.”

To call the Pro-Life advocates “anti-choice” is blatantly dishonest. Pro-Life advocates do not demand that anyone have sexual intercourse and to cause pregnancy. To say that the unborn have no rights is to say that only the powerful have rights and that those who are in positions of power get to choose who does and does not have rights. Much of this horrific abuse does occur in this world. This sadly sometimes includes who does and does not become pregnant. Rape and incest do occur, and sometimes pregnancies are the result. This is a travesty. It is certainly life changing. But does this mean then that the pregnant woman then has the right to deny any choice whatsoever to newly generated life within her on account of the imposition of responsibilities and burdens that she now bears? If so, then where does such “right to choice” end? The history of the world is filled with examples of how this principle can be extended to other powerless and voiceless persons. At what point is it offensive to say that old people have rights or that poor people have rights or that sick people have rights or that anyone else who is counted as burdensome has rights?

Moreover, when rights are considered, what rights are truly essential? According to the Declaration of Independence there are certain inalienable rights. The very first of these is Life! Without life, no one has any rights whatsoever.

Not Alone +++ PAS said...

So let’s be honest about what we are really discussing. According to what you have brought forward, we are debating who does and does not have the right to live and who has the authority to make the choice in these matters. You argue that in the case of pregnancy that the only person with any authority is the pregnant woman and that anyone who says otherwise is wrong, offensive, and perhaps even evil. Moreover, from this position you then argue against pregnancy having any benefit to humans, denying the research and evidence that can be found even with a simple Internet search.

Perhaps you will think me simple minded, but I do not see how anyone, including yourself, benefits from this. I don’t see how you or anyone else is happier or better off from what you argue. I can, however, point to many people who experience happiness and joy and love and hope and benefit to one another because Life was the choice. I can also point to the fact that all who have been allowed the choice to live have hope for improvement in their situations and lives as well as the opportunity to contribute to the lives of others. Your perspective eradicates this for many.

How is it that people of your mindset consider this to be right? Could it be that you are obsessed with “rights” and not truly concerned about “right”? At what point do you count my right to life your right to choose? I actually see this everyday as other people on the road decide that they have the right violate the rules of the road and place my safety in jeopardy. In those situations I am as helpless as the unborn child in the womb. Does the drunk driver have the right to choose to drink and drive because it is his body? Does the person running the red light have the right to choose? Does the terrorist have the right to choose to blow up a building or plane to make a point? If people have a right to be protected by traffic laws and enforcement of these laws and protection from being killed by terrorists, why do babies in the womb have no right to have anyone speak for them? And why should I have no right to speak for them?

I do not know why you are so angry and have such a low view of the unborn, but I do hope that you will ponder what I have shared and perhaps see things from another perspective, one that values people at all stages of their lives and rejoices in the gift of life. Perhaps it is too much to hope, but I would also enjoy knowing you as a friend.

Gary Cepek said...


Thanks for the good use of logic demonstrated in your response to american. The Author of Life is honored by what you write.

Gary Cepek