What Fresh Hell Is This?

May 17, 2006

Oh for fuck's sake!

From WAPO (via Atrios):
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.


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.
What is this medieval "you're a mere vessel" mentality?

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."


Sherry P said...

everyone, male and female should be upset at this.
everyone deserves good health care, everyone should try to live as healthy as they can.
we are not just baby factories and i resent the implications of this.
yes, folic acid IS important to a developing fetus and believe me, when i was pregnant i did everything my ob/gyn told me to do or not do. my choice, but to instill the notion in my daughter or granddaughter that they are baby factories, no, don't think so. better we should make teaching a healty lifestyle to ALL kids, starting in pre-school.then, we are still free to choose if we want to smoke or drink(i quit smoking years ago)or eat junk food(chocolate is a major food group, i don't care WHAT anyone else says!)that's up to us.

yvonne said...

Some of the main problems I see with this vessel mentality is 1, do these people really think women are unintelligent? Women as well as men know what is healthy and what is unhealthy. I for one do not like my intelligence being insulted, I know smoking is bad for me, I know what the healthy foods are, I know I don't need the government or some man to tell me what I should or should not do. I am more than a prenatel machine and as a parent it takes more than making and carrying a baby to produce healthy children. The second comment is on why the government decides to put the blame of infant mortality onto the shoulders of mothers and not in sharing the blame with the lack of health care for all. When my daughter was 22 years old and a full time college student as well as working full time in a pizza shop went to apply for government medical for herself due to some health problems, she was denied because she made $6.00 an hour and had no children. All she had applied for was medical nothing else and they told her if she gets pregnant come back and then they could help her. How absurd is that and we wonder why we have so many on welfare. She felt very disillusioned and felt that because she didn't want children yet she was discriminated against.These things are just more reasons why women are a minority and why the glass celing still exists today, even though population wise we are the majority.

Shawn said...

It's gonna be ineteresting to see what happens in the coming years. That is to say, while I think this guideline will be ignored/struck down, certain extremist elements are gonna be ramping up their campaign against contraception. After all, according to some, if you're having sex and actively stopping conception, that's as bad as abortion.

Hold on tight.

Sherry P said...

some groups are going to use this government health thing as a tool to raise girls to think of themselves as breeding stock, altho "holy" breeders, sort of "sacred cows!" ( deep sarcasm )
as if, once more, it is our only function in life!

jebst45 said...

I am also sure that this DOES NOT mean the government will be extending WIC to include "pre-pregnant" women. According to this mentality all women from the onset of menstration should be given food stamps (or the modern E-quivelent, an Access card) to buy foods high in folic acid, Omega 3 fatty acids (can you imagine the gov. buying women fresh tuna or salmon!!) or protien.