Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Forever Pregnant?

I read this article today-
Forever Pregnant

It talks about the new recommendations and guidelines from the CDC-

New federal guidelines ask all females capable of conceiving a baby to treat themselves -- and to be treated by the health care system -- as pre-pregnant, regardless of whether they plan to get pregnant anytime soon.

Among other things, this means all women between first menstrual period and menopause should take folic acid supplements, refrain from smoking, maintain a healthy weight and keep chronic conditions such as asthma and diabetes under control.

Apparently this is a horrible thing, and a plot by fundies to control your ovaries.

Well, that's what Satyrblade and his friends think anyway.

Looking at the article first, (beyond the evocative title which isn't accurate to the information but that's news for you) I'm struck by the fact that these are RECOMMENDATIONS and GUIDELINES, not laws. It is no different from every time my Dad goes to the doctor and she recommends that he quit smoking and lose weight.

No one is trying to force anyone to get pregnant here. But since about 1/2 of the pregnancies in this countries are STILL unintended, recommendations about 'safe sex' and artificial birth control obviously aren't doing their job. When's the better time to quit smoking, now or when you find out you're pregnant? The same is true of the rest of the recommendations.

If you are never ever planning on having kids and if you do get pregnant will absolutely have an abortion, then these recommendations are not for you, and you can do like my Dad does and gently remind your doctor that you've made these decisions and are comfortable with the possible consequences.

For the majority of women, these guidelines will help them live healthier lives in general AND promote good prenatal health should they choose to or accidentally get pregnant.

As the article says, While most of these recommendations are well known to women who are pregnant or seeking to get pregnant, experts say it's important that women follow this advice throughout their reproductive lives, because about half of pregnancies are unplanned and so much damage can be done to a fetus between conception and the time the pregnancy is confirmed.

Why is giving this information to ALL women a BAD thing? I just don't get that.

The U.S. infant mortality rate is higher than those of most other industrialized nations -- it's three times that of Japan and 2.5 times those of Norway, Finland and Iceland, according to a report released last week by Save the Children, an advocacy group.

Preconception care should be delivered by any doctor a patient sees -- from her primary care physician to her gynecologist. It involves developing a "reproductive health plan" that details if and when children are planned, said Janis Biermann, a report co-author and vice president for education and health promotion at the March of Dimes.

With numbers like these, it would be reprehensible to NOT include 'preconception care' in talking about reproductive health issues.

We're not talking here (as one of satyrblades commenters implied) about this kind of care INSTEAD of birth control. It's not an either/or situation, BOTH should be discussed by women and their doctors to provide the best information for their lifestyle.

Research shows that "during the first few weeks (before 52 days' gestation) of pregnancy" -- during which a woman may not yet realize she's pregnant -- "exposure to alcohol, tobacco and other drugs; lack of essential vitamins (e.g., folic acid); and workplace hazards can adversely affect fetal development and result in pregnancy complications and poor outcomes for both the mother and the infant," the report states.

This isn't new, but bears repeating. Many women who want children 'someday' and find themselves pregnant will keep their babies. Shouldn't they be given the best information possible about how to have a healthy baby?

It's not like we're asking women to do things that are BAD for them, for crying out loud. These recommendations are all good ones regardless of whether you plan on getting pregnant.

Now let's take a look at Satyrblade's rant-

Of COURSE this comes from a man.

A man who apparently subscribes to the Victorian health doctrine that all women are in essence walking uteri.

And apparently all the folks who work at American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the March of Dimes, Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention's Division of Reproductive Health and the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities are all like thinking MEN.

Combine this with the current legal "fad" of restricting birth control, sex education and abortion and the current business trend toward allowing pharmacists to disallow birth control and "morning after" meds on the basis of their "religious convictions,"

WHO'S restricting birth control? No one I know of. Pharmacists aren't 'disallowing' birth control and 'morning after' meds, some just don't want to be the one to dispense them. That's real 'Taliban' like behavior there.

then cross it with the fundamentalist lawmaker insistence upon considering each fetus a viable citizen, and you wind up with a truly frightening scenario for women's rights in our nation.

Hadn't heard of this guy (I'm assuming it's a guy), but pro-lifers believe that a fetus IS a human being deserving rights and protections under the law.

Get out your burquas, girls! The American Taliban has found a way to turn The Handmaid's Tale into reality.

I pity the person who answers the phone at the CDC today.

And I weep for our culture.

Alright, let's toss in the strawman of the 'American Taliban', I was just waiting for that piece of rhetoric. {rolls eyes}

Good frickin' Grief.

I'll end with about the one comment on his blog that actually made sense to me-

I'm of a different mindset than most people on here I guess. I think it's important for any woman that EVER plans or has a GOOD chance(for example not using a highly reliable form of birth control and is having sex) of POSSIBLY becoming pregnant to be educated about the effects of drugs, alcohol, vitamins and mineral supplements, etc...have on unborn children (if they were to continue the pregnancy). I see nothing wrong with requiring healthcare professionals to advise women on these matters, but if a woman says she isn't interested than that should be the end of having anything said to her about it. Any patient has the right to refuse counsel by a Dr. or pharmacist, and also has the right to refuse any treatment they do not wish to receive.

Hallelujah, some one gets it!


At May 21, 2006 12:26 AM, Blogger Alicia said...

First of all, I'm reading through this, just enjoying your writing style. I love the way you can pick out the main points of an argument, then say exactly how and why each point--either is off the facts or is a dumb argument. It's fun to read.

You pointed out that acting, for health reasons, as if you were possibly pregnant, isn't the same thing as expecting to be perpetually pregnant. I agree; I'd actually take it even further. For health reasons, we act as if we expect to get cancer (we do regular exams, watch cancer-causing agents, etc.) even though we hope never to get the disease. Of course, the difference is that pregnancy is a good thing and cancer is a bad thing, but the point is that acting as if something was possible isn't the same as promoting it.

You probably know a few more of the statistics than I--why are so many pregnancies unintended? That's the thing about the abortion debate, too; the time to choose to be a parent or not isn't after the baby is already conceived. Do preventative measures just work that poorly?

I like what you said: "gently remind your doctor that you've made these decisions and are comfortable with the possible consequences." Just remember: after that, it's the doctor's responsibility to listen to that. There are some people ( J is one of them!) who are able automatically to say a clear "no" that people respect, and we all have the responsibility to learn that, but I think it's harder for some of us. That's not an excuse, but I think that's what some people fear--that attitude from doctors of "well, you'll change your mind, honey"--it always drives me bananas when people explain what I should do if X when I've just finished saying "I won't X"...well, that's not too clearly put, but I think you understand. That's not a problem with the bill itself, that's a problem with the attitudes and voices of the people carrying it out.

Good point: that this is giving women ALL information they need; another good point: this is not "instead of" birth control advice.

How widespread is the belief that "all women are in essence walking uteri", anyway? It still mystifies me, since I've never experienced pressure to have children. (The expectation that that's what I'll want because I'm a woman, sure, but not pressure.)

I like the way you brought this back to our old debate about pharmacists, too. Not providing something isn't disallowing it (maybe the confusion is, we've grown so used to all the different choices available in our culture, but that wasn't always the case)--and I think the issue there is safeguarding Catholic pharmacists' consciences while still allowing women in our society, their choices.

Dynamite point at the end, but that's what you were trying to say all through, right? That giving information isn't pressure, and that this is all about providing women with choices--including the choice to have the healthiest baby possible.

At May 21, 2006 10:48 AM, Blogger Kyrie said...

It's fun to read.
Thanks! Just remember that my main points may be dumb arguements to some one else though.

For health reasons, we act as if we expect to get cancer

That's a GREAT analogy, I wish I'd thought of it! ;)

why are so many pregnancies unintended?

I don't have the statistics, but I'll give you my opinion. I think in large part it's due to a reliance on aritficial brith control (ABC). It can give a false sense of security. Sure, the pill is 99% effective, but that's only when taken EVERY DAY. My kid is here because I have trouble remembering to take daily medication. I think ABC also perpetuates the midset that pregnancy is a 'disease' that needs to be controlled. That leads back in to the abortion issue.

That's not a problem with the bill itself

Woah....this isn't a BILL, it's guidelines set out by the CDC. BIG difference. This is not somethign that Congress has ANYTHING to do with, and has NO power of law behind it. If a doctor chooses to ignore these recommendations, there is no penalty to him.

I think that's an incredibly important distinction to keep in mind.

How widespread is the belief that "all women are in essence walking uteri", anyway?

I've NEVER heard this thought presented by any religous group. I believe it is a strawman arguement that anti-Christians use to show how 'evil' and 'repressive' we are. That's not to say that there aren't individuals who DO believe that women's only role in society is to bear children, it's just not part of any Christan 'agenda' that I've EVER heard.

and I think the issue there is safeguarding Catholic pharmacists' consciences while still allowing women in our society, their choices.

Absolutely. But it's not just Catholics here. Many other Christians are involved in this area as well. Especially when it comes to emergency contraception.


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