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.What is this medieval "you're a mere vessel" mentality?
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.
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.
Shouldn't ALL patients and doctors worry about things like smoking, weight, and chronic conditions?
Are there any studies done on male health factors in regard to fetal health?
Is it OK for me to tell my doctor to please consider MY HEALTH as PRIMARY and not some baby that I may or may not have? (The answer to this is "YES" if you have to ask.)
Did stock for folic acid just go up?
Can I go ahead and throw up now even if I'm not experiencing morning sickness?
Seriously, nothing wrong with preventative health care: it's a good thing. But treating all women like they pre-pregnant/perpetually pregnant is fundamentally WRONG.
As the Salon article where Atrios found this states:
Why stop there? What about avoiding sushi, uncooked meats and unpasteurized cheeses? Perhaps women should only be allowed on planes once it has been determined, by routine pelvic exams administered at the gate, that they are not carrying a fetus that could experience trauma midflight.
What's this all about? According to the Post, "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." So even when we're not pregnant, or have no intention of becoming pregnant, or have already been pregnant and are done having babies, we should make our theoretically possible but wholly imaginary fetuses our priorities.
These new guidelines are meant to address the fact that the rate of infant mortality in the U.S. is three times higher than that in Japan and 2.5 times higher than that in Norway, Finland and Iceland. In fact, it's higher than that of most other industrialized nations, and rose for the first time in 40 years in 2002, to seven deaths per 1,000 live births. Moreover, it's worse for poor and minority women. The infant mortality rate among black women is 13.5 per 1,000 live births, as compared with 5.7 for white women.
But that's because we have a sick and failing healthcare system that leaves millions of disadvantaged Americans without anything resembling the care they require. Almost 17 million women lack health insurance.
Pretending that we're going to solve this problem by instituting guidelines that treat women as baby incubators is not the solution. All it does is reinforce an attitude that problems women have with reproduction are the only ones worth worrying about. How about federal recommendations about using birth control to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases? How about federal guidelines that require doctors to talk to women about the dangers smoking, poor nutrition, unprotected sex, drug use, lack of exercise, and heavy drinking can pose for them, and not just their precious potential cargo?
Oh, but God forbid we actually get something like universal healthcare to treat female and male adults and the babies who grow up to be adults that the Government pretends to care about so much.
No better to just treat all momen like we're living in the "Handmaid's Tale."