Friday, April 9, 2021

Pastor Bruce Rivers Memorial

 It brings us great sadness and with a heavy heart to announce the sudden & unexpected passing of Pastor Bruce Rivers of Mount Moriah 1st Baptist Church of Dos Palos, Ca. On 2/12/21 he entered the gates of Heaven. Pastor Rivers was a great servant, ambassador, and advocate for God. He loved life and traveling around the country bringing God's word and Pro-life messages for the unborn. He just spoke at UFL protest rally on 1/21/21. He also spoke for Alpha, San Francisco West Coast Walk for Life, Washington DC Walk for Life--where he met Dr. Alveda King, niece of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Issues 4 Life Oakland, Ca, Walk for Life in New York, radio talk shows and much much more. 

He will be deeply missed. 

Monday, September 16, 2019

Abortion and Wordplay

By Michelle Bowen
             As a writer, I think a lot about words and their impact.  Reading news articles and listening to media coverage of certain events makes me think of how important the words we use are.  If we use words inaccurately, we not only shade the story we are telling but we begin to change the meaning of the words overtime.  The meaning of words is more than just its definition but includes the connotations associated with them. For this reason, the charged topic of Abortion is accompanied by a fair amount of wordplay and manipulation, stretching the definitions of words and playing on the connotations.
             One of the obvious ways it shows up in this topic is the fact that both sides are referred to as a pro; Pro-life and Pro-choice. There are also numerous euphemisms used such as family planning, pregnancy termination, reproductive rights, etc. This got me thinking about whether the definition of abortion has changed over time as society has changed how we discuss the topic.  I began by going to my library, which I inherited from my grandmother, and pulled out her dictionary, The New Lexicon Webster’s Dictionary of the English Language from 1987. This dictionary defined abortion as “the spontaneous or induced expulsion from the womb of a nonviable human fetus | a monstrous person or thing| the failure of a project or attempt.”
             For comparison I went to Google and searched for a modern definition.  The first result was from Oxford which defined abortion as: “1. The deliberate termination of a human pregnancy, most often performed during the first 28 weeks of pregnancy.”  I thought that was interesting as it added a time frame, 28 weeks. That’s 7 months. I also noticed that it removed the notion of a fetus, instead keeping it strictly in terms of a pregnancy.  As far as connotation, not mentioning the independent body within the womb, the fetus, it is one step further removed from humanity. 
             Noting that this second definition was from Oxford, I decided to look up the modern Webster’s definition which led me to which gave the definition as:
1: the termination of a pregnancy after, accompanied by, resulting in, or closely followed by the
death of the embryo or fetus: such as
a: spontaneous expulsion of a human fetus during the first 12 weeks of gestation—compare miscarriage.
  b: induced expulsion of a human fetus
In addition to the definition listed above, also listed the original second and third definitions relating to a monstrosity and a failed project respectively. 
             I found the modern Merriam-Webster definition interesting as it includes the 12-week window for a miscarriage and includes the term fetus unlike the Oxford definition.  This rather subtle change in definition, the inclusion of a new time frame is interesting. While it is unclear how time frame came to be included in the definition, as I do not believe the term changes if the death occurs outside of the 28- or 12-week windows, it is of note that the inclusion of the time frames adds an element of clinical coolness to the term.  It seems to be picking up more connotative meaning.
             When thinking of the time frames, I recall one of the major talking points around abortion, especially with the late term abortion bills being passed this year, is centered around when a fetus should be considered to be living.  Is it 12-weeks? 28-weeks? At birth? Viability? Furthering of scientific advancements have changed at what point a viable infant can be born. Being born at 22-weeks is no longer a death sentence for a child. If we can say the child or fetus is not on par with other people, it is easier to suggest they have no right to life, even easier to avoid the point altogether and suggest the child is not alive at all.
             Another element of the abortion discussion has involved framing it as a “reproductive right”.  If the fetus is not human, not alive, then the mother’s right to decide takes president. Now saying it is a reproductive right is an interesting choice of terms as abortion is, by definition, not reproducing.  The term right is also interesting. Going back to my 1987 New Lexicon Webster’s Dictionary, a right is defined as “that which is morally right, …|that to which one is morally or legally entitled.” The corresponding definition from today’s is “something to which one has a just claim: such as … a : the power or privilege to which one is justly entitled.”  Finally, the Oxford definition brought back by Google states: “a moral or legal entitlement to have or obtain something or to act in a certain way.” The theme in the term ‘right’ seems to be along the lines of something moral, just, and legal.
             Now we come to a bit of the wordplay which happens on both sides, specifically with the connotations of words.  As I studied various terms related to abortion, I discovered that to use the term fetus is technically accurate when referring to the unborn baby.  As someone who is pro-life, I was under the belief that fetus and baby were interchangeable terms and fetus was used simply because it lacks the connotations that baby carries.  This is true, however, if you look at the definitions, fetus is clearly a term to refer to a child who still lives within the mother’s womb while baby and infant are expressly used to describe the child once it is born.   Now is there an actual biological difference between a fetus at 40-weeks and a new born infant? Not really. The umbilical cord attachment is severed and it enters the world outside the mother, but it does not become something else, it remains a human child.  They are terms which are used to differentiate between two different states of a child. The terms associated with an unborn child are seen as colder terms because you cannot see the child beyond ultra sound images. Seeing the child does a lot to awaken the soul to the reality of the child. 
             This wordplay is part of why the euphemisms are so important.  If you refer to abortion as a reproductive right, it gives the impression that the act is just and moral, by extension, you become immoral and unjust by opposing the practice.  The same goes with making it a women’s rights issue. A right is something just and moral, therefor, you become the bad guy for opposing it. 
             If there is no real difference between the child while it exists and grows in the womb and when it does so outside the womb, as far as intrinsic value, then the connotations associated with a baby become more accurate than the technically accurate terms of development.  This is why it is important to understand why the words are used as they are. The intentional ending of a life is framed as a right in order to give the impression that the right of comfort for the mother is more significant, or over shadows, the right to life of the baby.  Because it’s a fetus, right?

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Depressing, disheartening, dispiriting

A Personal Reflection and Thoughts: 

After weeks of researching abortion for this website, I feel sick. I feel like the evil in the world is so prevalent. I feel like the truth is being censored. I feel depressed after reading stories about babies left to die. I feel disheartened after reading stories about how women are proud of their abortions. Just look at photos of abortions and feel your spirit crush. I feel like hope is almost snuffed out by prevalent evil in this world. I dread logging onto this website to discover more bad news about abortion. I will continue to research even though the subject is grim. 

As I look up articles, it is obvious how biased the internet is. 20 links automatically pop up under a google search and every one is skewed pro-choice/pro-abortion. The truth is becoming harder and harder to find or even allowed on media. Articles and videos I remember viewing 10 years ago in high school and college have disappeared. I eventually got fed up, and started using a different search engine. I updated the United for Life Merced website with many pages and links because they are becoming harder to find under Google.  

Although I have to have a strong stomach to look up more devastating facts about abortion, I can only hope that change will come. Truth will win. Our Light will defeat darkness. Hope will not disappoint. Our weapon is prayer. Pray for abortion to end. 

Some facts with a bit of hope, but still devastating:

  • Approximately 879,000 abortions took place in the United States in 2017--down from 892,000 abortions in 2016 and 913,000 abortions in 2015. (retrieved from Abort 73)


Thursday, August 15, 2019

Choice is a Powerful Thing

Choice is a Powerful Thing

By Michelle Bowen

When I was growing up, my parents, especially my father, had little sayings and lessons they were always teaching my sister and me. Things like, “You can hear me now and believe me later,” or “a gun is always loaded.” The one I remember best is: Choice is a powerful thing.

 The older I get, the more I understand the significance of choice.  Growing up, my parents did their best to give us the information we needed to make our decisions and then, if it wasn’t dangerous, let us deal with the consequences of the choices we had made.  I have never been a very adventurous person so I learned more from watching my sister and my parents handle the consequences and rewards of the choices they made, than my own. I have a strange knack for seeing what other people do and learning from it as if I had done it myself.  I do not learn things the hard way most of the time.

 With this foundation, somewhere I picked up the information that contraception is not one hundred percent effective.  I can’t remember where I learned this. It might have been my parents, or sex-ed, or the TV, or something I read, but I learned it and it stuck.  While most people might look at something around a two percent chance of failure as safe, I filed it under “possible consequences”. As a result, I made the choice very early that I would not have sex with someone I did not love, believing that if we were in love, we would stay together and I wouldn’t become a single mother.

Over time this conviction became a pledge to wait until I was married.  If he wasn’t willing to spend the rest of his life with me, I didn’t want to risk having a child with him and thereby linking myself to him for life. Now that I am older, I understand more of the nuance in this.  I understand that you can be blinded by affection and emotions for a person. I have been in bad relationships in which I was too blinded to see how unhealthy they were (this is where I learn things the hard way).  One particularly bad relationship was headed toward marriage, but thankfully that was derailed, in part through my father’s patient insistence that I could do it if I wanted, but I would always be welcomed home. One advantage I think I did have in not marrying the wrong person was I didn’t allow a sexual element into the relationship.  Sometime after making my decision to wait for marriage I picked up the information that you are more likely to stay in a bad relationship if you are sleeping together. That bond can blind you; its kind of meant to.

Now, I know I had some advantages in my plan.  I was not a particularly attractive kid. I had my first boyfriend in high school, a relationship that lasted all of two weeks.  I spent the rest of my four years in high school pining for him so that prevented any other relationships. In addition to not being super sought after, I was raised by my biological parents who are still married.  So, I get it, I had an easier time keeping my pledge than other’s might.

  I share all this simply as a way to show a mindset that isn’t often presented.  With the foundation of choice being a powerful thing, and the knowledge that contraception is not fool proof, I decided the only way I could be sure to avoid being a single mother or being pregnant when I didn’t want to be, was to not have sex.  To abstain until marriage. While I was taught about safe sex, I remember thinking it was a ridiculous notion because it wasn’t really safe was it? There was that small percentage of failure. That potentially devastating failure.

Is it better to have “safe sex” than unsafe sex?  Of course. But I will always believe abstinence is best because there is no failure rate.  Safe sex shouldn’t be a primary technique, maybe a back-up for moments of weakness. I think the notion of being responsible for the consequences of our choices is important.  Yeah, it’s not a huge possibility that contraception will fail, but it IS a possible consequence. We have to decide if we want to take that risk. I didn’t.