T O P I C R E V I E W
Member # 94
posted 05-16-2006 05:34 PM
I found out about this through
. feministing : New US Federal Government guidelines urge all women who could potentially get pregnant-- that is, any woman between menarche and menopause-- should modify their behaviour in preparation for pregnancy. From the Washington Post I don't think that much the advice given to women is bad in and of itself-- it's basically general health advice that applies well to anyone (refrain from smoking, limit alcohol, get exercise, take folic acid etc), but in the current US climate in which attempts to limit reproductive control are rife, this smacks of wanting to make a woman's body public property not only when she is pregnant, but for her entire reproductive life. I'm particularly concerned about the suggestions that women should avoid certain workplaces simply because they could potentially get pregnant at any time. I think the idea of doctors asking women about their use of birth control at any visit is pretty good, however, so long as she is actually offerred the option of going onto birth control (preferably covered by health insurance), rather than simply being told to put her potential fetus before any other aspect of her life. I wonder why this doesn't also recommend that men stop smoking to protect all those potential and actual fetuses around-- after all, second-hand smoke is more dangerous than smoking yourself, and any man having a cigarette could unwittinginly blow their smoke into the nostrils of a potential baby vessel. This couldn't possibly be about just controlling women's behaviour, could it?
Member # 3
posted 05-16-2006 08:16 PM
...or, heck: suggesting that men always use condoms when NOT seeking to procreate to prevent transmitting STIs to potential mothers which can create very serious, known harms to fetuses and infants.
Or to halt their drinking, or to be monogamous when attempting conception, or to get annual sexual healthcare screenings, or.... ... yeah.
Member # 27901
posted 05-16-2006 09:15 PM
What I find really offensive is that this seems to imply, to me, that women who can't or (like me) don't ever WANT to carry a pregnancy to term are not as deserving of healthcare as a woman who may someday become a mother.
[ 05-16-2006, 09:16 PM: Message edited by: Rumored ]
Member # 28185
posted 05-17-2006 12:05 AM
'At Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, N.Y., a form that's filled out when checking a patient's height, weight and blood pressure prompts nurses to ask women, "Do you smoke, and do you plan to become pregnant in the next year? And if not, what birth control are you using?" '
That line makes it sound more like opening women up about what kind of birth control they're using, rather than trying to make them into baby factories. Adding questions about pregnancies and birth control to standard doctor-patient questionnaires can't be harmful, and may be helpful in encouraging women to ask more questions about their options. Reading the rest of the article, the new guidelines are apparently in place to try and lower the infant mortality rate by making women more aware of the risks of unplanned pregnancies.
Member # 20094
posted 05-17-2006 12:41 AM
I'm all for encouraging people (people, meaning women AND men) to try and lead healthier lives, but the article just gives the impression that women are only "baby vessels" and nothing else. What about the men who contribute to those pregnancies? Their overall health will have an effect on the health of the baby as well, as has already been pointed out.
This just sounds like one more way to try and control women's bodies and behaviour. Grrr.
Member # 25983
posted 05-17-2006 12:50 AM
"All women should consider themselves pre-pregnant.", says the article. All women between their first menstrual period and menopause should take the same precautions that women trying to concieve should?
Are they out of their minds?! There is no way in hell I am going to consider myself "pre-pregnant". I'm 18 friggin years old! Take folic acid supplements, avoid workplace hazards. Oh, seethe. Let's not even take into account the people they might have offended who, say, have fertility problems, or women who are childfree by choice. Pre-pregnant. Whoa. The fact that such a concept exists frightens me.
Member # 28185
posted 05-17-2006 01:23 AM
I don't know, I got a completely different impression from the article. My doctor always asks if I'm pregnant, then asks if I'm using birth control, or if I've done anything that could cause me to become pregnant. When I answer no to all of the above questions, they double-check.
Really, the guidelines are badly phrased, but the higher rate of infant mortality is worrying, and women should be made more aware of what they can do to prevent unplanned pregnancies, and how to take care of their bodies if they think pregnancy is possible. From the last lines of the article, it sounded like the guidelines are mostly asking health care professionals to really ask questions about what women are planning to do to prevent getting pregnant, as opposed to just shrugging it off. No doubt, the guidelines were written by the same federal commitees who take the legal precaution of translating everything into Martian before they release it to the public, and are apparently studying the culture of the Planet Zoog rather than the actual human race, but odds are, the effects of said guidelines are going to be slightly more careful questioning by doctors, and an increase in folic acid in women's formula supplements.
Member # 94
posted 05-17-2006 02:49 AM
This is what part of the article says-- and I don't think you'll find anyone here disagreeing with the idea that offerring birth control to women is a bad thing.
However, there is MUCH more to this than that. This basically says that there are a bunch of behaviours that are widely socially accepted, from which women should refrain between menarche and menopause. Infant mortality is in fact highest amongst lower income women who cannot afford health care. If these people were serious about the health of women and their unborn babies, they would implement universal health care, rather than telling all women that they should modify their behaviour just in case.
Member # 28071
posted 05-17-2006 04:35 AM
Here's my take on this....does anyone else notice that the people who have the highest infant mortality percentage due to socioeconomic class are the very same people who will be completely
unaffected by this whole movement? If you don't have health insurance coverage, health care in general is going to slack, not just prenatal care. The same women who are "putting off or forgoing care" are forgoing care of any kind, including but not restricted to keeping up to date on vaccinations, keeping chronic conditions under control, and taking folic acid supplements. Having a doctor try to prepare these women for pregnency before they become so is a null point...since the doctor won't see them anyway as they have no health care. The whole system is a huge catch 22, and will solve little of the problem. A better approach would be to offer basic helthcare to those who can't afford insurance so these women can receive the care they need...and to promote awareness to everyone regardless of gender on safe sex practices. But no...that might get in the way of the pro-abstinance adgenda where abstinance is somehow synonomous with pro family...so lets just make all women follow a different standard of living. [ 05-17-2006, 04:37 AM: Message edited by: greenapp1es ]
Member # 28185
posted 05-17-2006 09:42 AM
To open a different can of worms, universal health care is universally harmful. Do you really want the same government in charge of taking care of our roads (which are in such marvelous condition) in charge of taking care of your body? Do you really want medical thlb and their are no rewards for hard work? Federal health care is the reason my boyfriend lives his life with constant knee pain, and will probably have to get surgery on his knees in his 30's, and the reason he can no longer serve in the military.
That being said, I'm all for cutting government pork and policing welfare better so there's money to open more free health clinics, and using some of that pork-saved money to pay real doctors to take care of these people. The goal of social spending should be to provide a helping hand so that the poor can better their situation, but the way it is now, it's a crutch that supports poverty, rather than the people living in poverty.
Member # 1386
posted 05-17-2006 10:07 AM
Canada has universal health care. Our infant mortality rate is far below the U.S. which rivals some third world contries. Universal hearth care means middle and low income Canadians not facing bankruptcy or denial of medical services due to a major health crisis. It also means people can schedule regular check ups and doctors can practice more preventative medicine rather than cleaning up after the fact. The fact is universal health care works in most civilized countries on this planet. When you hear the Canadian health care system being disparaged, you are hearing lies with malice of forthought spread by vested interests in the U.S. bent on reducing the average U.S. standard of living.
[ 05-17-2006, 10:09 AM: Message edited by: Bobolink ]
Member # 27418
posted 05-17-2006 10:20 AM
Sir, do you smoke? Do you have a pregnant partner? Do you plan on being around a pregnant partner anytime in the coming year? What method of birth control are you using? Are you taking responsibility for that birth control, or is your partner? Do you have a fund set aside for child support payments, just incase? Are you up to date on your reproductive health? Have you been screened? Are you seeing a psychiatrist?
Member # 3
posted 05-17-2006 11:11 AM
Sithney, I don't know of any data which supports what you're saying about socialized medicine. None. Anyone who even took a cursory glance at global poverty rates and the general state of health of those living in countries with socialized medicine and of those living with privatized systems --
especially here in the states -- could see that pretty readily. And how hard someone works often has very little to do with whether or not they can access healthcare in a privatized system. As well, your ideas about poverty and living in poverty in this country (and why you think we don't have enough clinics, which is certainly an interesting approach, given where most of the debt in this country lies has nada to do with welfare) are something I'd suggest you do a bit more research on. That said, opening a "different can of worms" is hijacking a thread. Let's stay on topic.
Member # 24791
posted 05-17-2006 01:49 PM
universal health care of ANY sort seems to me to be better than millions of people without access to medical care at all, but on the original topic, i agree with Miss Lauren that the idea of considering myself "pre-pregnant" is quite frankly completely repugnant to me.
i'm 19, and regardless of what reproductive choices i will make in the future, shouldn't i take care of my health for MYSELF first, and then see how a possible child could eventually fit into my life? i hope that i have quite a few years ahead of me, and that a number of them will not involve offspring. i don't like the idea of those years simply being spent biding my time, keeping myself in "pre-pregnant" health. also, where does that leave women who have passed their child-bearing years, or those who are sterile or the like? last year, my thyroid gland shut down and i didn't get a period for ten months. am i to assume that i didn't need to be in optimal health at that time since my chances of conceiving were zero? for that matter, they still are, barring a pregnancy from rape (though i feel uneasy even acknowledging that as a possibility), since i am not sexually active. maybe it's just me, but i still think i'm worthy of the best health i can be in
Member # 25425
posted 05-17-2006 02:26 PM
I don't intend on ever having children. I wonder if that means there is no need for me to be in optimal health.
I find the assumption that a woman's value to society and personal identity is hinged on the ability to bear children only pretty offensive. Not only does this leave us looking like we have no purpose besides being the vessels of future children, but it is also hugely discriminating to every woman who has either not the option or simply not the desire to become a mother. On a side note regarding the universal health care, I can't help but find it pretty short-sighted to think that it would solve the problem of lower-income people going without insurance. The system in Germany, for example, is meant to provide healthcare for everyone in theory, but in practice the system is so bankrupt that doctors now have to charge every patient an extra 10 Euro every three months, regardless of the type of insurance, simply because there is no money. Which, of course, leads to people not going to the doctor at all, even if they are in dire need of medical attention, because they just do not have that cash.
Member # 3
posted 05-17-2006 02:30 PM
(If y'all want to have a big discussion about public and privatized medicine, why don't you start a new thread, eh? Just good netiquette, as that's really not what Beppie's post was about.)
Member # 25425
posted 05-17-2006 02:40 PM
Sorry 'bout that. Didn't want to derail the topic. Though I think that the reason some of us felt compelled to veer into that direction is the fact that the article is trying to propose a solution to infant mortality, but is attacking the problem from the wrong end. People who can afford health care are already seeking it out, whether or not they are planning on a pregnancy. It's the people who can't afford to see a doctor to begin with who end up with less than perfect health conditions, and their situation won't be helped by this proposal.
Anyway. If anyone is up for a real discussion on this topic-though I really don't know if anywhere on this board is even the right place for this- let's take it elsewhere.
Member # 3
posted 05-17-2006 02:54 PM
(Try the general health forum!)
Infant mortality is such a complex issue, especially in the states. There are SO many things we can look to as to why we have the worst infant mortality rate in the western world. Poverty is the obvious biggie, and lack of access to both healthcare, sound nutrition and the like as a result is an obvious major cause. But there are loads of other factors, too. For instance, a big reason that teen pregnancies often result in less healthy babies is because of young women -- including those who DO have available healthcare -- not seeking out pre-natal care. Sometimes, that''s because (for those who can get and afford it) teens just don't know that they need it or when, but many times, it's because the teens are trying to hide a pregnancy as long as possible, or are sustaining a pregnency they didn't want and don't really want to sustain in the first place. So, so, SO many reasons this is all the case. But I do think the above guidelines send a pretty clear message about both the state of women's rights per autonomy over their bodies in the U.S., and how the U.S. prioritizes women's health in general. I'm not going to prepare my body for pregnancy if I have no interest in becoming pregnant. Sure, rape stats given what they are, the state of abortion services and birth control services and access being what they are (much of which COULD be made far better by the feds, but they've little interest in such, and obviously, have a strong interest against such in some regards), I may well become pregnant whether I like it or not; I (or any woman) may well find myself in a position at some point where I don't get a choice about staying pregnant or not. But HELL if I'm going to use my energy to "prepare" my body for something I'm not interested in rather than to do what I can to make sure I get to choose that in the first place, get the very care they're talking about whether I want to breed or not, et cetera. And it's a nice red herring, anyway, courtesy of our administration: let's send a message that shifts the blame for infant mortality and health rates off of us, and , per usual, unto women.
Member # 94
posted 05-17-2006 05:27 PM
A pretty important update:
that the Washington Post article is based on. here is the CDC report It turns out (and I'm sorry for not researching this thoroughly to begin with) that the actual report does not mention treating all women as "pre-pregnant" beings-- that is simply the idea that the Washington Post wants to promote. This is still bad-- clearly a very prominent newspaper has deliberately misinterpreted the policy in order to promote the idea that women's bodies should be reduced to baby-making machines, and that women have sole responsibility for any problem their fetus/baby might have. Like me, a lot of people are just going to read the Washington Post article (I only found out about the actual report through a blog), and that is going to influence their views about women and pregnancy. However, the original report does not suggest that-- in fact, in keeping with what we've been saying here, it notes that one of the big problems is indeed women not having viable access to health care and contraception.
Member # 3
posted 05-17-2006 06:05 PM
Well, that's a nice relief then.
And The Post... it's unsurprising that was their presentation of it. It's a very conservative paper.