Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Is Placenta Consumption Cannibalism?

I heard this question being posed the other day and couldn't help but respond. My initial reaction was one of surprise, like who would actually consider this notion or even be interested in it. Then I started to think about it more and realized maybe there was an argument here, so I'm going to put my two cents in.

The placenta is thought of as an organ of the mother's body. We even use the statement "something made by the body for the body." While this is certainly true that the mother's body does make and benefit from the placenta, the placenta is not made of maternal tissue per se. The tissue of the placenta is actually a product of conception. The mother donates her chromosomes and so does the father. So the placenta actually has components of your partner in it as well. This is why many cultures revere the placenta and often refer to the placenta as the baby's twin. After all, they do arise from the same tissue.

My problem with this argument, however, is that while many cultures respect the placenta as the baby's twin, the placenta is not the same as the baby clearly. The placenta is not a baby.

Another argument I've heard is one from the Bible. I had one well meaning Christian relative ask me what the Bible had to say about it when I first started. I decided to research it.

There is one Bible verse that refers placenta consumption.

She will hide from them the afterbirth and the new baby she has borne, so that she herself can secretly eat them. She will have nothing else to eat during the siege and terrible distress that your enemy will inflict on all your towns.

This verse is referring to a woman consuming both her baby and the afterbirth during a siege in which she will have nothing to eat. This is the only verse in the entire Bible that refers to the afterbirth. Both the baby and the placenta hold nutrition, so both are lumped together. However, the Bible doesn't state that the afterbirth is human flesh in this verse, as I have read online that other Christians assume. If anything, it alludes to the nutritious benefits of the placenta!

Also for Bible believing Christians, it's the New Testament that we're more concerned with as we are now covered by grace than the law. The New Testament forbids a lot of things, but not consuming the placenta. In fact, all meat was now okay to consume.

Let's take a look at the definition of cannibalism. . .

Cannibalism is consuming the flesh (defined as muscle and fat, not organs) of your own kind. It refers to the flesh of other humans, not necessarily your own flesh.

So, I guess the answer to the argument lies in the fact of whether or not one considers the placenta to truly be a part of the baby or the mother. It would seem that if it is the mother's, then she could reasonably consume her own flesh and not be a cannibal. Here's where I stand, and you are free to make your own decisions. I cannot in good conscience make the connection that the placenta is the same as the baby, that they are one flesh. Yes, they both came from the same place. . . from the mother and the father. They differentiated into  different tissues with different functions and purposes. One of them was given a soul; the baby. The placenta was not. The placenta is not alive. The placenta has parts of the mother and father and was grown by the mother, just as how we consider our children a part of us. It's not really flesh of the mother, though she created it. It's not really flesh of the baby because the baby moves on from it too. It's an organ that serves it's purpose and is then no longer needed, so it's not really flesh of either the mother nor the baby.

I guess this is a gray area and I'm not sure anyone can draw an exact conclusion. There will always be different opinions and my advice is always the same. If someone doesn't feel comfortable with placenta encapsulation, then don't do it. No one is twisting your arm. No one will have their feelings hurt. It's your choice and if you feel fine about it, then does it really matter that there may be a few people out there who believe you're a cannibal? Tell them, so what? Placenta encapsulation is NOT the same thing as consuming your baby and I think surely that is a point most of us can agree on!


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  2. This is a perfect example of conforming to our own law. It is by God's grace we are save because we can't keep the law!!! God sent His son to redeem us and Christ stepped over stars to pay the randsom on our behalf so we could have eternity back. Christ fulfilled the law as human fall short of God's glory. You are right the law does not save us, it is by His grace we are saved. God wiped our slate clean and the only way to God the Father is through Christ. No more law rituals and slaining of lambs. Christ is the only way. Yet all that has been done in our behalf we are sinners, in even interpreting Godly instruction, conforming His word with our own personal interpretations. Gods words is interpreted righteously by the Holy Spirit. Basically the laws remains as it is God's instruction and breath. God just knew we couldn't keep HIS salvation plan (and laws) therefore Christ took all our transgressions and all of our sins ( it is by grace we are saved). the temple fell, therefore the law of Tithing 20% is no longer a law, because we no longer have the rituals and upkeep of the temple. we are instead instructed to give from you heart for it pleasing to the Lord. Give gracefully and graciously...The law is doing things with God in our heart, mind and soul. When God says something it is so. Matthew 5:17-19 ESV
    “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. God in Deut. Does tell us the Eating of the placenta and own children is forbidden. The bible tells us do not be worried about what to eat. He does tell us what NOT to eat and then what he deemed okay to eat because our own stubborn nature. let's face it, we can kill birds and animals but it is not acceptable to God to eat part of you own-placenta or your child. Nothing should be eaten From our body like tissue, organ and blood. The placenta has blood. This shows the nature of sin and not depending on God.