Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Still A Baby Vessel

TNG at Neural Gourmet emailed me about this story today:

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.
Oh, where to begin? I'll start by stating the obvious: prenatal care is essential. If these experts really cared about healthy pregnancies, and healthy newborns, then all prenatal care would be FREE. But that's another post. For now, let's take a look at the message in these guidelines.

All women are "pre-pregnant"? What's most imporant about any woman is that she could conceive at any moment. Back away from her, she could be conceiving right before your eyes! Could the people who designed these guidelines not grasp the implications of their statement? Women already exist as sex objects. Implementing a standard for medical professionals to treat all women as pre-pregnant literally reduces us to baby vessels.

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.

As an asthmatic, I believe it's important to keep my symptoms under control even though I will never have a child. Of course it's important for pregnant women to be as healthy as possible. It's also important for women who are not pregnant to be as healthy as possible. Women are valuable as individuals, regardless of their reproductive status.

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.

Approximately half of all pregnancies are unplanned. The logical conclusion experts draw from this fact is that all women of reproductive age must be treated as pre-pregnant. All women should be on a prenatal regimine for the safety of the fetus. Well, that's one possible conclusion. How about a different perspective? It's disgusting that half of all pregnancies are unplanned. How about the experts redirecting their efforts to developing safe, reliable, and affordable birth control? How about getting to a place where virtually all pregnancies are planned, so that women have the opportunity to deal with any pre-pregnancy health issues in a timely manner? No, it's a lot easier to treat all women of reproductive age as status: pregnancy forthcoming.

Experts acknowledge that women with no plans to get pregnant in the near future may resist preconception care.

"We know that women -- unless you're actively planning [a pregnancy], . . . she doesn't want to talk about it," Biermann said. So clinicians must find a "way to do this and not scare women," by promoting preconception care as part of standard women's health care, she said.

Resistance is futile.

Maybe women don't appreciate structuring their lives around a future pregnancy. Maybe women resent always being treated as nothing more than a uterus. Maybe women have enough other problems to deal with. Don't worry, doctors are used to dealing with noncompliant patients.

Women should also make sure all vaccinations are up-to-date and avoid contact with lead-based paints and cat feces, Biermann said.

The report recommends that women stop smoking and discuss with their doctor the danger alcohol poses to a developing fetus.

I guess women never need to clean a litter box again. Remember, you're pre-pregnant, so it just isn't safe for you, dear.

I don't know how to break the news to the experts, but lifestyle choices and environmental toxins affect men. Most importantly, they affect men's sperm. The narrow focus on women's lifestyle choices, and their environmental exposure to pathogens and toxins is incredibly dated. Scientists have known for some time that mutated sperm cause birth defects, and complications with pregnancy. Are the experts going to suggest we treat all men as pre-ejaculators, and develop a program to treat men accordingly?

I have a radical, yet simple idea. Let's treat all humans as equally valuable individuals. Let's worry about exposure to toxins on the basis that they're damaging to everyone, including nonhuman animals. Let's work to insure that all people are as healthy as they possibly can be, because that's a worthy goal in and of itself. Treat each person as a valued being, work for optimal health and a healthy environment, and finally develop decent birth control. Do these things, and babies will be healthy.


neuralgourmet said...

While the whole policy plan is just steeped in sexism and cultural bias I can't help but laugh at the implications of this line:

"...experts say it's important that women follow this advice throughout their reproductive lives"

Did you get that ladies? After you've exhausted that all important egg supply (or pre-babies as they're likely to be called now) you can just let yourself go all to hell. So once you hit your 45th or 50th or whatever birthday you can start boozin', smokin' and druggin' to your heart's content.

BTW: I'll link from my brief post to yours.

spotted elephant said...

Yeah-after menopause, or if you've had a hysterectomy, you can smoke 4 packs a day! We don't care. We don't have to care. We're the experts.

Sigh. And you were so right about the Orwellian language. I had to ignore that, because I get so creeped out when I think down that line. Thanks for the link.

J.R. Kinnard said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Justjuliefornow said...

As a 45 y/o childfree human I think I will start eating those lead-based paint chips immediately. I've heard they're really good with salsa or cream cheese.

Why can't dog feces be bad for you? I'm a dog person. Cats always get the good stuff.

spotted elephant said...

Julie, I didn't know you were childfree-I am too. Maybe we can make a lead chip/asbestos cake to share!

gandhi rules said...

Yours is the second blog I've read this story on. I'm so f-ing offended that some federal boys club would have the nuts to treat me like a baby bowl. But anything is possible with our current ignoramus in the white house. This is just another indirect kick at abortion too.

cameo said...

what i find the funniest, as a mother to three, is i've been told by several physicians - before a woman knows she is pregnant, there is very little she can do to harm her baby. it's once she knows she is pregnant that continuing smoking, drinking, etc., that harm comes to the fetus. and true, as you said, if there are abnormalities, it's through the sperm. and i agree with you the REAL issue here is not necessarily the health of the "pre-pregnant" woman, it's the fact that half of pregnancies aren't planned. in my case, it's roughly 65%. regardless, the whole thing is just plain stupid. i can see where these people think they're coming from a good place. but that's the scariest notion of all. but, to play devil's advocate, we must remember that not all women (men/people) are properly educated, and with that comes different lifestyles and choices. and a blanket statement/proposition like this may not be directed to ALL women. you know, in some situations, there can be no exceptions - there just has to be a broad rule of thumb. doesn't make it right to think in terms of women as a uterus, but if this CAN change the perception of one under-educated woman, and therefore change the life of her child, then it's worth it.

cameo said...

oh yea, and i'm glad you liked the video. and i'm glad you like me enough to watch it! food for thought, huh? thanks.

Madame DeBarge said...

Okay, I have a long-term IUD to prevent unplanned pregnancies, and planned my one and only.
However, I can just see a doctor talking to my mother, trying to tell her that they have to treat my 14 year old sister as "pre-pregnant", just because she's menstruated.
Should I start finding paint-chips to contribute to the cake?

Suebob said...

It's all just a little too fucking "A Handmaid's Tale" for me.

spotted elephant said...

GR-Yes, we could be in for worse. :(

Cameo-I'm with you on doing whatever we can to improve women's and children's health. But treating all women of reproductive age as pre-pregnant is inexcusable. Women always have to take the hit. If the sexism has a good outcome, (healthy babies), then it's OK. No, it isn't OK, we're always the sacrificial lambs.

A much better solution would be free health care, so that poor women can get the care they need regardless of pregnancy status. This option has nothing but good outcomes. I'm not willing to support smaller options that sell women out (yet again).

Madame-Yes, we need LOTS of paint chips for the cake. Spent nuclear fuel rods would be great too-we could make chairs out of them. Don't want to eat the cake standing up!

Sue-Yes-The Handmaid's Tale. That's it exactly. Shit, I think my copy was a victim of countless moves. I'll have to get another.

cameo said...

i'm still waiting for the day when the push isn't for men's "get it up" pills, but instead "shooting blanks" pills, or shots, or just under the skin implants or patches. i've been waiting for a long time. i bet the shit STILL won't be around when roxy's an adult.

quakerdave said...

C'mon now, ladies. You mean you haven't all been fitted for your burkahs yet? You knew this was coming, weren't you? And why all the recent attention in the media to polygamy? Because that's on the agenda, too. Lots of wives, lots of babies, lots of begattin' goin' on. Just like the good old days.

The Old Testament days.

Offended? We need to all get genuinely pissed off.

manxome said...

"Oh, where to begin?"


"Resistance is futile. .. Don't worry, doctors are used to dealing with noncompliant patients."

Thank you for this one. I swear, by the time I got to this part, my eyes were bleeding and it was getting really hard to see what I was typing!

hexyhex said...

Guess I better chuck out those schizophrenia medicines... they might harm the baby I'm not carrying, and it's in the best interest of that hypothetical non-baby for me to be batshit insane rather than pose a risk to it.

Jesus. I already think of myself as perpetually "potentially pregnant" and constantly ready to conceive. That's why I take god damned birth control.

Laura said...

*speechless and shaking slightly* It's almost enough to make me take up smoking...

spotted elephant said...

Cameo-I wish I could argue with you and say, of course it will be around when she's an adult. But I really dont' think it will be.

QuakerDave-It's so easy for so many to brush things like this off as no big deal. If you don't look at the bigger picture, and you don't pay attention, you're going to get a really nasty wake-up call.

Manxome-I was so glad to find you'd posted on this. Having the rage spread, it just helps.

Hexy-I wish we were on the same continent. Then we could chuck our meds together, go batshit crazy together, and be roomies in the hospital! :)

Laura-Oh, I'm ROTFL-taking up smoking. Hmmm, maybe that's the way to fight this. Label me pre-pregnant, and I'll do things that make every doctor weep.

OK, a little self-destructive, but fun to think about.

hexyhex said...

No offence, SE, but if we're going to be on the same continent, can it be mine? Yours scares me.

spotted elephant said...

Hexy-I was assuming it would be yours. The US is way too scary.

hexyhex said...

Yeah, and we have all sorts of wacky wildlife to stare at in confusion and slight fear!

We'll just have to make sure you stay out of Queensland... whole damn state has a $30 000 fine for keeping rabbits as pets, with forcible euthanasia of the rabbit if you're caught. *hides Bam and Bumble from Queenslanders*