Parsing the text and trying not to choke.

I'm sorry, when exactly did I fall asleep? And how did I manage to wake up in The Handmaid's Tale?

Quotes are from the Washington Post:

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.

That's right, from now on, we're either pre-pregnant, pregnant, or too old to bother with.

The sad thing is, I can't even make the argument that this is a new approach. It's just that usually they aren't quite so obvious about it. Seriously, Canada has universities, right? And camera shops? And my mother would be so happy if we moved to Windsor, or Toronto.

Plus, they have something that could be called, without irony, a health care system.

...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, because I *could* get pregnant without intending it, sometime within a thirty year period, the focus of my health care, as provided by whatever doctor I choose as my primary care physician, should be the health of a potential fetus. Quantum physics in action, folks. It's all about potentiality.

Unless, of course, we're talking about the sort of potentiality harmed by things like badly funded schools, underpaid dangerous jobs, and violent conflict. It's just during the period that a child might theoretically be conceived up to birth that it needs government oversight and protection.

"We know that women -- unless you're actively planning [a pregnancy], . . . she doesn't want to talk about it," Biermann said.

Right. It could be that, unless I'm planning a pregnancy, it's none of your damn business. If I decide that I want pre-pregnancy care, I'll let you know. Until then, kindly fuck off.

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.

Excuse me? They don't want to scare women by talking about pregnancy? Because this is a surprise, and we don't know that we can get pregnant unless told so by a doctor? Or because, like other dumb animals, any sudden movements might cause us to run for the hills?

Actually, that's a pretty good idea. If this doesn't give every woman in the country a case of the screaming heebie jeebies, we're in trouble.


At 5/17/2006 12:14 AM, Blogger Priya said...

How about pregnancy now being the standard of reference, eh? Almost like other animals in that animals (well, most higher vertebrates anyway) place higher value on the fertility of the female of the species.

I would like to make a case for "pre-pregnancy" actually being a good thing if it led to better universally-affordable health care and an intensive focus on overall health of females throughout the USA. After all, if I'm going to be looked after better/have better access to medicines/better choices for checkups and treatments if I'm in a 30-year long pre-preggers state, then make the most of this way of framing things, I say.

At 5/17/2006 8:34 PM, Blogger Elizabeth said...

It won't. Unfunded mandate, is the phrase you're looking for.

And I'm not arguing against the medical suggestions, which are on the whole good for women. It's the way that they're framed that sucks.

At 5/17/2006 10:18 PM, Blogger Priya said...

Damn it! I was all set to have another big fight :-)

In any case, it's apparently bloody WP that's being an idiot (ah, selective choosing of parts of text for publication. What would journalism be without it?)

At 5/18/2006 10:24 AM, Anonymous serena said...

Ah the beauty that is the post...how thought provoking of them to print such drivel...and I wonder...where on earth did they bury this little tidbit in their publication...and how did I miss it upon first glances...LOL

prepregnancy care...hilarious...I still say that men need greater care than we do, especially since many more of them die sooner than women.

At 5/19/2006 2:03 PM, Blogger Elizabeth said...

Maybe. I was all set to go with the general reading of "It's the WP, not the CDC" but then I read the actual guidelines, and the language is from the original. Maybe they've pulled out the offensive parts and highlighted them, but they didn't make anything up. Even in the original text, there's a lot not to love.


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