Friday, January 20, 2012

Baby Parasite & Pregnancy Evil? Opposing Opinions, The Search For Truth #1

A letter reply to the thoughtful comment of American, on the post Fetus Actually Beneficial to Mother?

My Dear American,
         Thank you so much for your comment, and I do ask your pardon in the matter of my tardiness.  I would also like to beg your patience in regards to my reply, especially where technical information is concerned, as "Just Google It" does not work too well for me and I have no clue as to what sources are particularly believable and which are not.  Research, particularly internet-based, is in no way my strong suit.  
          Neither my post nor the original article were meant to be very technical and detailed.  Rather, they were meant as a general source of information, with the hopes that interested or ambitious people would then proceed to follow links and research the topic themselves.  The term "microchimerism" was used in the original article; I decided to leave it out in an attempt to keep my post simple and understandable.  Also, the article had two links, one to the 1979 study of microchimerism in humans which sparked studies in human fetomaternal microchimerism; and a link to a 2006 interview on NPR with genetics specialist Dr. Kirby Johnson of Tufts Medical Center in Boston, and Prof. Carol Artlett, a researcher at Philadelphia's Thomas Jefferson University on how their findings are congruent with the theory put forth in the article.      
          I did what I could to try and research this subject more in-depth, and found that most of the articles I came across required memberships to the websites they were on.  I found three which seemed to explain what microchimerism is:; JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) on microchimerism; and The Lancet with an article which I believe just explains what fetomaternal microchmerism in general.  (I know with The Lancet one must be a member in order to read full articles.)  It is true, that many studies into human michrochimerism has to do with the possible harmful effects thereof, mostly having to do with possible connections to scleroderma.  See The Lancet; JCI (Journal of Clinical Investigation; Blood (I think that is the name of the site.); also, The Lancet has an article on the possible connection of microchimerism and thyroid disease.  I do not find studies into harmful effects something to be seen as a threat to my argument - there is usually more interest in trying to discover the answer to disease, than trying to find healthy side-effects.  From what I gathered, the study of microchimerism in humans has been actually been around for about 30 years, and somewhat extensively as well.  
          American, you are somewhat correct, on a completely scientific and materialistic level at least, in your terminology of "parasitic".  There seems to be much debate out there as to whether such a relationship as the mother and fetus have is actually truly parasitic or not, but under the definition you have laid out, I would agree with the terminology.  Though it seems to me that a fetus can not be both a parasite and just a lump of the mother's tissue, as per the "It's my body, I can do what I want with it" argument.  I also would like to throw out there that the "parasitic" relation between mother and child continues for quite a while after the child is what age are children really able to survive without "leeching" off of others?  And if they become unwanted during this time of "parasitic leeching", causing possibly even worse psychological damage to the mother than they did in utero, what makes it wrong to terminate them at this point?  Something to consider - at what point does a person actually begin to have "rights"?  If not at conception, when even its DNA says "human", then when?
          I don't know if you are an evolutionist of any sort or not, and please correct me if you are and my understandings are wrong, but I was under the impression that evolution was for the perpetuation of the species, and species perpetuate themselves through reproduction, in the case of humans, pregnancy.  Pregnancy may be terribly uncomfortable and potentially hazardous, but it does not necessarily follow that pregnancy itself is bad.  The death of the mother would almost guarantee the death of the offspring, thus defeating the evolutionary purpose of reproduction.  Until another means of reproduction evolves, pregnancy will be the only way humans perpetuate the species naturally and it therefore does not make sense to me that pregnancy is as bad as many make it out to be.  I know you did not say it, American, and I don't intend to put words in your mouth, but I have seen elsewhere the argument made that the way humans have evolved is no longer compatible to the way they reproduce, and was wondering if you may have any thoughts on this.            
          American, you are correct in saying that pregnancy is still a dangerous thing, though much less so in developed countries than in the underdeveloped ones thanks to advancements in science and medicine.  Unfortunately for both of us, maternal morbidity is as lacking in a universal definition as parasite is.  The WHO (World Health Organization) and Women's Health USA 2011 seem to define maternal morbidity as complications which a woman could/should have died from but didn't, where others define it to mean any sort of complication whatsoever during pregnancy.  This report from 2009 on maternal morbidity (broad definition) says the rate is around 50% (see pg. 10); whereas this study for the Population Research Center from 2001 says 42% of women experience complications, while only 15% develop potentially life-threatening complications (cited from a WHO study); the numbers (if I did the math correctly, though these studies are not whole population studies) from the Women's Health USA 2011 and WHO from 2004 (results section) are closer to the 15% claim:  9.69% and 12.31%, respectively.  I do not wish to dismiss your valid statement that pregnancy is often dangerous, but I do wish to show that your figures may be a bit misleading.  
          As for the offensiveness of the article, I fail to see it.  Perhaps that is because I am pro-life, and therefore do not view it as an attack upon myself and my "cause".  Though I am not sure how saying that cells from the fetus may remain in the mother even after birth erases the experience of pregnancy; rather, it seems to me that it emphasizes how much of a total experience it really is, in addition to the gestation, labor, and childbirth.  Unless one wishes to eliminate the experience of pregnancy all together, in which case I can see how the article may be offensive.  If it is not human, then it has no human rights; but I encourage you to re-consider the question of "When does one become 'human'?"  If one is not human right off the bat, then when does such a change occur?  Further, the fetus did nothing to put itself in such a situation, it has no intent on "hijacking" anything.  A fetus does not spontaneously develop inside a woman -  man's sperm must meet up with egg.  Why, then, don't we ask instead what gives a man the right to ejaculate his sperm into a woman?  For if we break it down to the beginning, it is his sperm that starts this whole "hijacking" in the first place.  I have often wondered why it must be that a woman must be the one to alter her fertility/body with birth control, while men don't have to do anything.  And birth control was meant to be a liberator for women!  I see it as being more enslaved to men and their sexual appetites divorced from responsibility.  
Though I kind of see what you are getting at, organ donation is not parasitic, and a better argument would be "Until the anti-choice movement attempts to make all killing illegal, they don't have a leg to stand on."
          This has probably been way more than you expected, and I do apologize for any boredom and inconvenience I may have caused.  Oh, not to mention I find it very difficult to do short and concise well.  My apologies once again, and thank you ever so much for commenting in the first place!  I really do appreciate it!

<3  Jenn~Henn

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