“No demise can be as total as the one in which even the verbal identification of a thing would become unrecognizable.” That was Fr. Stanley Jaki writing about how modern culture has redefined “soul.” When an abortion advocate told me that “being pregnant doesn’t make you a mother” I dutifully resorted to the trusted Oxford Dictionary. To my inexpressible ugriness* (c1480 horror), it is defined at birth.
This stuff keeps me awake at night more than my five month old little boy. I’m calling on my fellow Catholics to help fight the denigration of precious words, to defend the meaning of motherhood. This is the remark of the abortion advocate, pseudonymously named “Lauretta Riddle.”
|Thread is here. (I left the group shortly afterwards.)
Never mind about the last part; of course women can become mothers without giving birth. What is troublesome is the first statement. I rely on the unabridged Oxford English Dictionary so much for the proper use of words that I pay the monthly membership fee to access it online. Words matter; they shape our culture. That’s how we communicate concepts and changing the meaning of words is one way people throughout history have controlled ideas. Need proof? Try telling such a woman as Lauretta that childbirth involves birthing something that is already a “child.” Try telling her that “marriage” is one man and one woman. Try telling her that “rights” come from God. When I saw that the OED defined a “mother” as one who has “given birth” the blood honestly drained from my face. What’s up? “The female parent of a human being” can apply to pregnancy but the definition of “human being” is “person” and that can be ambiguous since we unfortunately have laws that do not recognize the unborn human being as a person. I am shocked at the omission of pregnancy as part of motherhood.
|mother, n.1 (and int.)
Third edition, December 2002; online version June 2011. <http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/122640>; accessed 13 July 2011. An entry for this word was first included in New English Dictionary, 1908.
The full unabridged Oxford English Dictionary “is a historical dictionary and it forms a record of all the core words and meanings in English over more than 1,000 years, from Old English to the present day, and including many obsolete and historical terms. Meanings are ordered chronologically in the OED, according to when they were first recorded in English, so that senses with the earliest evidence of usage appear first and more recent senses appear further down the entry – like a ‘family tree’ for each word.” The Oxford Dictionary Online, which is free, “focuses on current English and includes modern meanings and uses of words. Where words have more than one meaning, the most important and common meanings in modern English are given first, and less common and more specialist or technical uses are listed below.” The Oxford Dictionary Online defines “mother” as “a woman in relation to a child or children to whom she has given birth.” This means that Oxford acknowledges the “female parent of a human being” as a historical usage, but acknowledges having “given birth” as the modern and current usage. The dictionary today literally does not define a pregnant woman as a mother! Consider this.
The difference in time of these two pictures is 7 hours.
|Is this a mother?
|Is this a mother?
What happens if one of these is not recognized as a “mother”?
Fortunately there is something that can be done. I realize this may seem below the radar, but that’s exactly what we should guard against. Thanks to “Lauretta Riddle” for bringing the weight of this issue to my attention. The OED will change its given definition to reflect usage of words in English speaking societies. Anyone can contribute such information for the editors to consider, but they need usage proof. There is plenty of proof that the word “mother” refers to a pregnant woman in the medical field and in non-medical society.
Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine (uses the word “mother” 25 times in reference to pregnancy)
What is Maternal Fetal Medicine
British Maternal and Fetal Medicine Society
Further, the OED will change its given definition to maintain consistency. The dictionary also defines “maternity” as “the state, condition, or fact of being a mother, or of expecting a child; motherhood.” It defines “motherhood” as “the state, condition, or fact of being a mother.” Those two words apply to pregnancy. What can you do to help change this definition to reflect reality? Join me in contacting the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary. Below I explain how to do it. Thank you!
*ugriness, n. Second edition, 1989; online version June 2011. ; accessed 13 July 2011. Earlier version first published in New English Dictionary, 1921.
How to contribute to the OED:
Information on contributing
What evidence is needed
You can read the first two links just for information. To contribute you need to click on the Submission Form. Below is an example of how I filled it in using the first linked evidence above from the Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine. You can use any other evidence you can find as well, including the others I listed. Feel free to copy and paste the info I compiled below in the submission form too.
“The female parent of a human being; a woman in relation to a child or children to whom she has given birth” A pregnant woman is also a mother.
Sense number: I. 1. a.
“This monograph highlights important research that has emerged to improve the outcomes of mothers and babies and describes the challenges that face us as we strive to provide optimal pregnancy outcomes for mothers and their babies.”
“Maternal-fetal medicine specialists, also known as MFM specialists, perinatologists, and high-risk pregnancy physicians, are highly trained obstetrician/gynecologists with advanced expertise in obstetric, medical, and surgical complications of pregnancy and their effects on the mother and fetus.”
“A high-risk pregnancy is one in which some condition puts the mother or the developing fetus, or both, at an increased risk for complications during or after pregnancy and birth.”
“…treatment, and care of expectant mothers and their unborn babies…”
“…infectious diseases that can affect both mother and child, such as HIV…”
“…experts in understanding and balancing the risks to the mother and the fetus…”
“…help weigh the risks and benefits for both mother and baby of delivery versus continued pregnancy…”
“…negated if the mother is obese. Visualization of fetal anatomy…”
“…fetal DNA or RNA that can be found in the mother’s bloodstream…”
“High blood pressure (hypertension) during pregnancy endangers the health of both the mother and the baby…”
“For the mother, hypertension is associated with early delivery…”
Title source: Maternal-Fetal Medicine High-risk Pregnancy care, research, and education for Over 35 Years
Type of source: monograph
Authors: The Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine and the SMFM Foundation
Thought Leaders: Jennifer Bailit, MD, MPH, John Barton,
MD, Ahmet Baschat, MD, Vincenzo Berghella,
MD, Sean Blackwell, MD, Steven Bloom, MD,
George Bronsky, MD, Alison Cahill, MD, Stephen Caritis, MD, Patrick Catalano, MD, Joshua Copel, MD, Donald Coustan, MD, Donald
Dudley, MD, Lorraine Dugoff, MD, Michal
Elovitz, MD, Mark Evans, MD, Michael Foley,
MD, Steven Gabbe, MD, Alessandro Ghidini,
MD, Alice Goepfert, MD, Kimberly Gregory,
MD, Cynthia Gyamfi, MD, Margaret Harper,
MD, Jay Iams, MD, John Ilekis, MD, Kristine
Lain, MD, MS, Mark Landon, MD, George
Macones, MD, Carol Major, MD, Giancarlo
Mari, MD, Mary Katherine Menard, MD, Leslie Myatt, PhD, George Neubert MD, Roger
Newman, MD, Errol Norwitz, MD, PhD, Michael Paidas, MD, Julian Parer, MD, PhD, Lawrence Platt, MD, Ruben Quintero, MD, Susan
Ramin, MD, Uma Reddy, MD, Kathryn Reed,
MD, James Roberts, MD, Dwight Rouse, MD,
George Saade, MD, Baha Sibai, MD, Robert
Silver, MD, Lynn Simpson, MD, Jorge Tolosa,
MD, Michael Varner, MD, William Watson,
MD, Katharine D. Wenstrom, MD, Isabelle
Wilkins, MD, Deborah Wing, MD; Writing
Group members: Kjersti Aagaard-Tillery, MD,
Sean Blackwell, MD, Arnold Cohen, MD, William Grobman, MD, MBA, Cynthia Gyamfi,
MD, Daniel O’Keeffe, MD, Alan Peaceman,
MD, Laura Riley, MD, Lynn Simpson, MD,
Michael Varner, MD; steering committee:
Thomas Garite, MD, Sarah Kilpatrick, MD,
PhD, Brian Mercer, MD, Catherine Spong,
MD, Ariste Sallas-Brookwell, BA; and to our
Medical Writer: Marian Wiseman, MA.
Editors: The Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine and the SMFM Foundation
Sarah J. Kilpatrick, Md, Phd
Thomas J. Garite, Md
Location of quote in text: “Mother” is used throughout in reference to pregnant women.
Further details: Link to monograph: http://www.mfmnyc.com/FetalMedicine_Articles/SMFMMonograph3.1.pdf
Pregnant women are commonly referred to as “mothers.” There are abundant examples in this type of literature. Further, leaving pregnancy out of the definition of “mother” is inconsistent with the definition of “maternity” defined as “the state, condition, or fact of being a mother, or of expecting a child; motherhood.” “Motherhood” is defined as “the state, condition, or fact of being a mother.”
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