Questions From Readers
According to news reports, after a baby is delivered, some hospitals save the placenta and umbilical cord to extract things from their blood. Should this concern a Christian?
In many locations, nothing like that occurs, so Christians need not be concerned. If there is very good reason to believe that such a practice is followed in the hospital where a Christian will give birth, it would be proper simply to direct the physician that the placenta and the umbilical cord should be disposed of, not used in any way.
Various medical products have been obtained from biological sources, either animal or human. For example, certain hormones have been extracted from the urine of pregnant horses. Horse blood has been a source of tetanus serum, and gamma globulin to fight disease has long been derived from the blood in human placentas (the afterbirth). The placentas have been retained and frozen by some hospitals and later collected by a pharmaceutical laboratory so that the blood rich in antibodies could be processed to extract gamma globulin.
More recently, researchers have claimed success in using blood from the afterbirth to treat one type of leukemia, and it has been theorized that such blood might be useful in some immune-system disorders or in place of bone-marrow transplants. Hence, there has been a degree of publicity about parents having blood from the afterbirth extracted, frozen, and banked in case it might be useful in a treatment for their child in years to come.
Such commercialization of placental blood is hardly tempting for true Christians, who guide their thinking by God’s perfect law. Our Creator views blood as sacred, representing God-given life. The only use of blood that he authorized was on the altar, in connection with sacrifices. (Leviticus 17:10-12; compare Romans 3:25; 5:8; Ephesians 1:7.) Otherwise, blood removed from a creature was to be poured out on the ground, disposed of.—Leviticus 17:13; Deuteronomy 12:15, 16.
When Christians hunt an animal or kill a domestic chicken or pig, they drain the blood and dispose of it. They do not literally have to pour it on the ground, for the point is that they dispose of the blood rather than put it to any use.
Christians who are hospitalized understand that biological products removed from them are disposed of, whether the products be body wastes, diseased tissue, or blood. Granted, a doctor might want certain tests to be done first, such as a urinalysis, a pathological examination of tumorous tissue, or tests on the blood. But thereafter, the products are disposed of in accord with local law. The hospital patient hardly needs to make special requests to this effect because it is both reasonable and medically prudent to discard such biological products. If a patient had valid reason to doubt that such a normal practice was going to be followed, he or she could mention it to the physician involved, stating that for religious reasons he or she wanted all such products disposed of.
However, as mentioned, this is seldom a concern for the average patient because in many places such salvage and reuse of the afterbirth or other biological products is not even considered, much less practiced routinely.
The article “Let Us Abhor What Is Wicked,” appearing in “The Watchtower” of January 1, 1997, seemed to be focusing on pedophilia. How is this practice to be defined?
Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary defines “pedophilia” as “sexual perversion in which children are the preferred sexual object.” Aspects of this practice are condemned at Deuteronomy 23:17, 18. There God spoke against becoming a temple prostitute (“or, ‘a catamite,’ a boy kept for purposes of sexual perversion,” footnote). These verses also forbid anyone to bring into “the house of Jehovah” the price of “a dog” (“likely a pederast; one who practices anal intercourse, especially with a boy,” footnote). These Scriptural and secular references establish that what The Watchtower was discussing was a child’s being made the object of sexual abuse, including fondling, by an adult.