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Preconceived Notions

Debbie says:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the 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 have joined together to come out with new guidelines and recommendations for women based on a concept they call “preconception care.”

Women don’t need preconception care: policymakers do. Their preconceptions are showing all over the place, and interfering with good sense and good thinking.

The basic theory is that all women between the ages of puberty and menopause should be considering themselves as “pre-pregnant,” which means taking folic acid supplements, refraining from smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, and keeping chronic conditions such as asthma and diabetes under control.

With the exception of the folic acid supplements, which are pregnancy-specific, and the possible exception of “keeping a healthy weight” (which I agree with if I get to define healthy weight), this is good basic Western medical advice for everyone, regardless of age or gender.

Let’s look at the preconceptions that go into these guidelines:

1) Women are basically baby machines. There’s no reason for us to be healthy except insofar as we might make babies. By extension, the important babies are the male babies, since the only reason for the female babies to be healthy will be to make more babies.

2) The health of our children is more important than our own health. The psychological concept of projection talks about how we can displace our feelings about ourselves onto the other. In contemporary American culture, this is extremely common between parents and children, and between society and children. We don’t let ourselves say “We want to be healthy because we’ll feel better, like ourselves better, and have better lives”? Instead, “we want to be healthy so we can have healthy babies.” Our health doesn’t matter, but our children are important!

3) The high infant mortality rates in the United States can be addressed with health guidelines. The report mentions the infant mortality issues but it does not (because our government will not) address the issues of poverty and access to health care which truly underly this problem. The vast majority of women living on minimum wage and junk food will not read these guidelines, and will not follow them if they do read them, for a host of very good reasons. Like every other health directive in our country, some affluent folks with doctors, health insurance, and lots of food choices will pay attention; most people will either not know, not care, or not have the resources to change their habits. So it’s yet another smokescreen for the hard choices that the society won’t make.

4) (An unlikely preconception for the Bush administration, to say the least) Every 12-year-old girl should preconceive herself as “pre-pregnant.” Won’t this encourage both teen sex and teen pregnancy? Are we willing to pair it with access to safe and effective (and very inexpensive) birth control? Some folks would cast this as being about pregnancy outside of marriage; for me, unsurprisingly, it’s about being ready to mother a child.

My prescription: preconception care for the government policymakers: let’s sweep out the preconceptions about conception, women, health, and sex, and start over with some fresh ideas that might be respectful and effective.

Thanks to Pat Kight for the link.

<br /> <a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Centers+for+Disease+Control" rel="tag">Centers for Disease Control</a><br /> <a href="http://technorati.com/tag/pregnancy" rel="tag">pregnancy</a><br /> <a href="http://technorati.com/tag/women" rel="tag">women</a><br /> <a href="http://technorati.com/tag/feminism" rel="tag">feminism</a><br /> <a href="http://technorati.com/tag/preconception+care" rel="tag">preconception care</a><br /> <a href="http://technorati.com/tag/birth+control" rel="tag">birth control</a><br /> <a href="http://technorati.com/tag/preconception+care" rel="tag">preconception care</a><br /> <a href="http://technorati.com/tag/health" rel="tag">health</a><br /> <a href="http://technorati.com/tag/Body+Impolitic" rel="tag">Body Impolitic</a><br />

5 Responses to “Preconceived Notions”

  1. Lynn Kendall says:

    I would be happier if I thought this program would be used as a way to make sure everybody of babymaking age got good health care, accurate information about sex, easy access to birth control, a decent low-pollution environment (because nobody should have lead poisoning before they’re even born), excellent schooling and job training (because potential parents should be able to read, think, and hold jobs), nutritious food, a safe low-crime environment, and decent housing.

    Everybody, not just women: nutrition, drugs (including tobacco and alcohol), and environmental factors also affect men’s sperm.

    But I suspect it’s just another step toward the Republic of Gilead.

  2. Patsy Nevins says:

    It is all about controlling all of us, believing that we do not know how to breathe without help, & believing that we don’t have the right to own our own bodies & live in them as we please. In many ways, these ideas, these health policies, etc., are a strong reminder of the attitudes of Nazi Germany, which heavily pushed “healthy lifestyles”, campaigned against smoking at least 25 years before anyone in this country considered it unhealthy, & insisted on fitness for all…not for their own health & well-being, not to improve their individual bodies, but for the sake of the “State”…”your body does not belong to you, it belongs to the State.”

    There are strong overtones of all this in what is going on now in the United States, &, in this particular edict, there are also strong overtones of mysogny, total devaluation of women as unique & precious human beings with their own lives to live & their right to live those lives as they see fit.

  3. Dan'l says:

    What this reminds me of more than anything else is the “women and children first” pseudophilosopy propounded in some later Heinlein books.

    I have no particular problem with the idea that children and women of childbearing age should be given priority access to basic health care. Not because women are “baby machines” — as you know, I support (with quibbles) the “right to choose” — but a woman who has made the choice not to have children might later change her mind, and providing decent health care now may prevent problems for a child then.

    That said, I don’t mean to suggest that this attitude is at all what’s on display in the “preconception care” document; it is about women as baby machines, every bit as clearly as “intelligent design” is about Creationism.

  4. lori says:

    Actually, I quibble with your #4. I am pleased to see in the original document at least a pointed statement about the diesireability of access to health care for low income women, if no more specific plans to actually do something about it.

  5. scout29c says:

    The Matrix is Loading

    You thought the Matrix in which we all live in pods of goo and only think we are running around all over town and with our friends was done by some virtual intelligence machine. Oh no my friend!

    It is being done by the self-righteous right. First no fertilized egg will be wasted (leave no conception behind) and then it will be the egg and the sperm. There is only one way to insure proper prepregnancy behavior will occur: institutionalization.

    When young people go through puberty, they will be sent to institutions to insure no egg or sperm is wasted. They will be harvested. Boys will be milked like cows to suck out every sperm before it can be wasted in some sock or paper towel, or heaven forbid, some sex act with another person. Eggs will be removed from girls as they are produced. They will be allowed to leave to go to church, only.

    When a woman becomes pregnant, all manner of probes and monitoring devices will be shoved up into her to insure the fetus is maturing properly. There will be no exceptions. There will be no discrimination, all will have to go.

    It’s the new order. First the brain dead like Terry Shiavo and then the unborn and then the unconceived.

    If you don’t want to know the truth, then keep reading comments and other posts, take the Blue Pill. However if you want to know the truth and future of us all, then click the Red Pill

    Don’t do it if you don’t want to know.

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