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When Does the Spirit Enter the Womb?

by W. John Walsh

While the Church has never issued an official declaration on this subject, President Joseph Fielding Smith taught:

"The time of quickening is when the mother feels the life of her unborn infant. President Brigham Young has left us this explanation of the time when the spirit enters the body: 'When the spirit leaves them [mortal bodies] they are lifeless; and when the mother feels life come to her infant, it is the spirit entering the body preparatory to the immortal existence. But suppose an accident occurs and the spirit has to leave this body prematurely, what then? All that the physician says is—'It is a still birth,' and that is all they know about it; but whether the spirit remains in the body [i.e, in its own body] a minute, an hour, a day, a year, or lives there until the body has reached a good old age, it is certain that the time will come when they will be separated, and the body will return to mother earth, there to sleep upon that mother's bosom. That is all there is about death.'  On other occasions, also, President Young taught that we should have hope for the resurrection of stillborn children. 'They are all right,' he said, and nothing in the way of sealings or ordinances need be done for them." (Doctrines of Salvation, Vol.2, p.280)

[See also Will a Miscarried Child Be Resurrected?; Stillborn Children; Teachings About Premortal Life home page; Premortal Salvation of the Dead; Basic Beliefs home page; Teachings About the Family home page; Teachings About Children home page.]

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