SPONTANEOUS ABORTION (MISCARRIAGE) AND PRAYER
Glad to see that monstrous service that we borrowed from the Latins in the 1300s replaced. I should have preferred that we not use what could be interpreted as accusatory "[she] has miscarried the child..." It would be better, more humane and more correct to say "her/she who has suffered a miscarriage." In clinical terms, a miscarriage is a "spontaneous abortion" and if one will examine the clinical literature we will find that somewhere between 60 and 75% of all pregnancies result in a spontaneous abortion; many without the woman even having known that her egg had been fertilised, even after the early zygote had formed. We discussed this at some length at a conference a few years ago, at which some gynecologists spoke to us about the matter (the sort of conference that the synod now considers that it is "dangerous" for me to participate in.) Nothing in this service should even hint that the woman might have any guilt, or that "she" has miscarried. The miscarriage has simply occurred, and most often this is because the zygote or foetus is not viable, though no fault of anyone. Just as often, the problem will be in some deficiency in the male sperm that fertilised the egg, and in that case, it is the father who has miscarried and the mother, who has suffered the miscarriage. We really need to distance ourselves from any medieval notions about these spontaneous abortions (miscarriages). There is no sense to causing added sorrow to a woman who has suffered a spontaneous abortion through no fault or action of her own, or of anyone. Perhaps there might be a prayer for a woman when her pregnancy develops into a hydatidiform mole also? Most of the misconceptions about pregnancy and circumstances surrounding it that we find in Church literature and patristics had arisen in epochs in which very little was known about the reproductive system and processes, and what was "known" was largely wrong. We should not be punishing women (or anyone else) on the basis of primitive misinformation and misconceptions so the wording of the prayer should be carefully chosen in order to avoid any hint of guilt on the part of the woman.