Barefoot and Back in the Kitchen

Anne Martens

The Centers for Disease Control has taken a break from containing bird flu to determine that I'm pre-pregnant. By edict.

Pregnancy, it seems, is the new normal for women. You're pre-pregnant, and then (sperm willing) you're normal and fulfilling your duty to god and country by being pregnant, and then you're useless and they ship you off and turn you into glue. The three stages of womanhood. Defined, not by personality or achievement or contribution to society, not even by reproductive ability, but by the act of reproduction alone.

Men, presumably, aren't pre or post anything, so long as their boys can swim.

Alright, CDC, I'll see your pre-pregnant, I'll take your vitamins, and I'll refrain from chewing on the windowsill lest there be lead-based paint. But let's up the ante here. Pre-pregnancy is a delicate, delicate state. I will need you, CDC, to provide me with weekly housecleaning service because I mustn't overexert myself and some of those fumes can be toxic. I will need you, CDC, to cover all of my pre-pregnancy medical expenses, annual pap smears, and the birth control that keeps my cleaning service coming. CDC, I expect that you will assist in my education costs as well, because educated parents raise better children. Oh CDC, will you organize my union drive, will you contribute to my IRA, will you offer marriage counseling? Will you give me the job security and economic security and emotional security that will surely improve the prospects of my future pregnancy?

Or will you take me out of the workforce altogether, so that I can concentrate on my duty as a baby maker. Will you endorse an unwanted child from a rape, from incest, from a loveless marriage, because the state of being pregnant trumps the health and well-being of the woman. Will you outlaw abortion and take away contraception because they interfere with the one societally useful purpose of womanhood.

Will you follow through on all the logical implications of defining women as baby making factories?

Will you ever, finally, treat me like a whole woman?

  • Koz (unverified)
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    What's wrong with taking better care of yourself? And if half of pregnancies are unplanned, maybe it's not a bad idea. Perhaps a great number of these pregnancies get carried to term.

    By the way, just as young women are "pre-pregnant" aren't we all "pre-death"? Why else are there recommendations to exercise, to eat a more healthy diet, to stop smoking, etc. And if you have life or health insurance you have institutionalized incentives and punishments for living a healthier "pre-death" lifestyle, ie., your premiums go up or down. Why does no one protest against these steps?

    Or how about vaccinations? Chances are a child won't catch one of those diseases, so why bother? Or how about the new vaccine against cervical cancer? If the federal government mandates vaccinating young women against this, is that bad? Oh my gosh, heaven forbid that we designate these women as "pre-cancerous".

    Get a life. Take a multivitamin and try to live a healthy lifestyle.

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    Is this the same CDC that promotes "abstinence only", rejects condom use, suggests that abortions lead to higher instances of breast cancer?

    There are two possible avenues to appointment to a management position in the Bush CDC:

    Be a fundamentalist Christian opponent of abortion. Be a drug company executive.

    Actual scientists with relevant resumes need not apply.

    Not surprising then, that they would think of women as baby factories, first and foremost.

    After all, there must be some personal moral weakness common to all american women, otherwise our infant mortality rate wouldn't be in the cellar among industrialized nations.

    Right?

  • jami (unverified)
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    can you imagine the laughing if the centers for disease control deemed it important to call all men pre-fathers? i mean, laptops are totally cooking their goods, but you don't hear any edicts on high about how men should stop computing forevermore.

  • LMAO (unverified)
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    Eyes wide shut feminism strikes again.

    The BUSH CDC is trying to control your life! Let's rally in front of Gordon Smith's office, or put an Impeachment Now bumper sticker on your Prius.

    That'll teach 'em.

  • Jesse O (unverified)
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    Yeah, it seems pretty much overkill to name it "prepregnant" .... I'm not sure which of the suggestions (folic acid?) don't apply once you pass menopause, but CDC shouldn't be using capacity to become pregnant to give out health advice.

    From the CDC:

    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.

  • LMAO (unverified)
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    Of all the nerve: the Centers for Disease Control thinks you should stop smoking, maintain a healthy wait, and keep chronic conditions under control. Bunch of ideologues: that's what they are!

    Other righty-tighty groups involved include 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.

  • LT (unverified)
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    So will the CDC take a stand on whether teenagers (who have had their first periods but are not 18) need a parental consent form? Does NY have a law to cover the questionaire at Montefiore Medical Center in Bronx, N.Y.? And what other problems are there with this idea? Obstacles to preconception care include getting insurance companies to pay for visits and putting the concept into regular use by doctors and patients. Experts acknowledge that women with no plans to get pregnant in the near future may resist preconception care.

    Some medical facilities have already found a way to weave preconception care in with regular visits. 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?"

    Whenever Democratic agencies come up with pronouncements like this, Republicans make fun of them.

    I suggest the same should be true here.

    It was wise to take care of one's health before this article appeared. But do the "pro-life" folks who think tax cuts are more important than national health care really want to implement all the suggestions in the article? How would they do that?

  • Don Smith (unverified)
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    This is clearly an edict from the Folic Acid Supplement lobby to boost sales now that Daisy Fuentes is no longer fronting folic... :)

  • Idler (unverified)
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    Suddenly prenatal care is a manifestation of Christian Fundamentalism.

    I sense more hostility on the part of the author toward motherhood than on the part of CDC toward the other pursuits a woman is likely to engage in during her life.

    What could be worse than being thought of as being the half of humanity that gives birth! How insulting!

  • sasha (unverified)
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    Yes indeed there is a sexist conspiracy under every government bureaucrat.

    Jeez, Anne, get over it. You give non-whole women a bad name. Are they all as emotionally distraught and irrational as you? Or is that just the hormones involved with being pre-pregnant?

  • LT (unverified)
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    Is the goal marriage and then motherhood. or is the goal motherhood by whatever means? sense more hostility on the part of the author toward motherhood than on the part of CDC toward the other pursuits a woman is likely to engage in during her life.

    What could be worse than being thought of as being the half of humanity that gives birth! How insulting!

    Should contraception be outlawed because there is nothing a female can do that is more important than giving birth? Should married women who don't have children take fertility drugs even though those might cause cancer?

    Maybe the role of women to control their own bodies as much as men do is under attack?

    If there were an edict that men and women of child bearing age should take care of their health, that would be another thing, but that is not what this article says.

  • I M Nuts (unverified)
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    I oh my goodness... Bill Morrissette and Peter Courtney are running the CDC?

    How crazy to suggest that young people should not smoke or eat junk food and that maybe they sould exercise and take their vitamins.

    All you Minnis supporters who love the tobacco industry, want keep vending machines in schools, and don't want to mandate PE need to quit bashing the CDC. They are just doing what your "Queen" refused to do last session and actually protect them from themselves!

  • mconley (unverified)
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    Did you hear that the Justice Dept wants to regulate testosterone in boys/men from puberty to death? It's a new initiative to curb violence.

    Now, that's what I call public policy.

  • Idler (unverified)
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    LT, I think the goal is to maximize the conditions of prenatal development. Since men don't bear children, their health is not a big issue for prenatal development.

    In the paranoid hyperfeminist mind, mere concern about this morphs into some kind of fundamentalist menace.

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    Betty Friedan must be rolling over in her grave. Gender treachery rears it's ugly head in the form of CDS's worship of the healthy uterus. Now the CDC would have women standing in a feedlot, force fed organic food, happily chewing away, waiting to grab the golden ring and achieve the glory of pregnancy. Margaret Atwood wrote a damned good book, "The Handmaids Tale' foreshadowing the CDC's current rhetoric. Perhaps the CDC should print out tee-shirts with this quote, "Give me children, or else I die." (Genesis 30.1)

    I'm headed out to find some Jezebel's enjoying their post-mentapausal zest. Make mine a double barkeep.

  • Bob Fancher (unverified)
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    I remember about thirty years ago overhearing my then-brother-in-law, a physician, on the phone to a company that routinely hired him to do their their pre-employment health screenings. He told the employer they couldn't hire the women in question because yes, indeed, she was a perfectly normal, fertile woman. I was shocked, and I guess naive. When he hung up, I asked him why. "Because she'd be working around chemicals that would be noxious to a fetus," he explained. "She might get pregnant without knowing it and sue the company if she has problems with her pregnancy."

    That--not the issue of whether or not it's smart to take good care of one's self, or whether one favors or hates motherhood--is the problem with the CDC recommendations. They implicitly endorse what is, I believe, now an illegal status discrimination.

    "Might get pregnant" was a deeply-engrained, pervasive justification for discrimnation against women, and the feminist movement won a great many victories against it. Unless you're really in favor of returning to pre-feminist policies, it makes sense to be concerned to see a major Federal government endorsing "might get pregnant" as a basis for policy.

  • LT (unverified)
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    So, Idler, those of us who are old enough to remember the 1950s and 1960s are hyperfeminists because we believe women's medical decisions and men's medical decisions should be under the same level of control by the government?

    In the paranoid hyperfeminist mind, mere concern about this morphs into some kind of fundamentalist menace.

    Thanks for proving the premise that when some see a girl/ woman of any age they think "baby making machine".

    There are those who believe women should be denied certain jobs while in their child bearing years. Calling those who point that out hyperfeminist or some such doesn't change that.

    Elizabeth Dole (not really an old person) has told a story about being hassled in law school "the place you took in this class should have gone to a man".

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    Bob--

    Thank you for the comments. To me, this is at the heart of our opposition to what the CDC said.

    Yes, we should all eat healthy, not drink or smoke, etc. We should do that just because we'd want to be healthy human beings. That's not really the issue here-- it's that women in their child bearing years are being singled out to be treated differently.

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    Jenni: That's not really the issue here-- it's that women in their child bearing years are being singled out to be treated differently.

    OK, so women in their child bearing years are being "singled out" by the CDC for, um, health advice about what you should do if you're a woman in your child bearing years. I, on the other hand, am not yet "singled out" for advice on heart attacks, but I'm sure that eventually I will be, as an old male.

    So explain again why receiving circumstance-specific health advice is so bad? I just don't get it.

  • LMAO (unverified)
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    LT: How is the government trying to "control medical decisions"?

    The Centers for Disease Control (like the Surgeon General) is tasked with the promotion of health and welfare, and the prevention of injury and disease. To suggest that concern for fetal health is tantamount to discrimination against women belies your extremist views on abortion. To wit: a government publication regarding the promotion of fetal health is anti-woman?

    The government requires warning labels on cigarettes. It's irrational to suggest the government is preventing you from smoking based on that warning label.

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    There's a big difference in recommending that older people of either sex should follow certain guidelines to keep the heart healthy and what the CDC is doing.

    What they're doing is classifying women of child bearing years into a a category called "pre-pregnant." This is basically what was done a few decades ago, although it didn't have an official name. That led to a lot of discrimination against women, instances of which are listed above.

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    Women and men have increasingly become too comfortable with the creep toward an authoritarian government with no problems limiting civil liberities, listening to thousands of phone calls, data mining, bribing and corruption. The subjugation of women into a pre-pregnancy class may not sound too serious in the scheme of things. Is anyone wondering when the CDC will start issuing the burkas?

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    So... the CDC is such an arbiter of popular weltanschauung, that its categorizations will singlehandedly bring back the worst of the 1950s? ('Cause, you know, the Journal of Emerging Infectious Disease Reports is in just all the salons.) Companies will stop hiring women because "the girls" are all prepregant, or perhaps even post-prepregnant, or even post-post-prepregnant (with daycare), Fair Employment Act be damned?

    The mind boggles.

    Well, maybe you're right. Who am I to say? But if you're going to jump all over the practice of medical classification, I would suggest you learn a bit more. Medical "discrimination" against the elderly is hardly benign, not only in terms of insurance, but also for things like organ transplant waiting lists. Perhaps it's necessary, perhaps not, but a hell of a lot more important to the affected individuals than use of a politically-incorrect word.

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    I never said there wasn't medical discrimination of other groups of people. I said that saying those who are at risk for heart problems to take good care of their heart is not the same as classifying people as "pre-pregnant." Just because it's already happening with other groups doesn't mean we have to live with it. It's wrong when stuff like medical discrimination happens to any group.

    The Journal of Emerging Infectious Disease Reports may not be everywhere and read by many; however, publications like the Washington Post (which reported on this) most definitely is. And that's just the beginning.

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)
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    On the surface, the CDC's position seems mild and beneficial to our society.

    The reason lots of us get bent out of shape about these little beneficial things is that we are worn out with a history of these things turning out to be a "tip of the iceburg" sort of thing.

    Example: No child left behind. Great! What an idea! Let's pump some Federal money into Education so that we educate a new generation to take care of us as we age. Nothing better. Of course, the Federal Government will only put their money into education so long as there is "accountability". And of course, if the public sector can't respond to the standards of accountability, then we should hand over our education system to the private sector because education is so important. And by the way, the private sector won't have the same standards of accountability. And by the way, the standards of the public sector, slowly phased in, are actually impossible to meet.

    We have a war on terrorism that has become a war on American freedoms.

    Hmm, where have I heard this all before??? Orwell? Hilter??

    So, nothing is as it seems. Every woman has every reason to quake in her shoes when she hears that the government has taken an interest in her reproductive abilities.

    I guess I'm starting to be in the Libertarian wing of the Democratic Party - keep the government out of my life!

    If there is no purpose behind the CDC's interest in reproduction, then why are they doing what they are doing?

    Yes, there is a conspiracy under every rock in the Bush Administration.

  • LMAO (unverified)
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    Jenni:

    You need to read the entire CDC Report entitled "Recommendations to Improve Preconception Health and Health Care " and then climb down off your high horse. It does not suggest that all women are "pre-pregnant" breeding machines which must be subjected to government or physician monitoring.

    Here's the agenda from the national summit which preceeded the report which offers scant evidence of a vast right-wing conspiracy.

    The Washington Post journalist (Ms. January Payne) clearly intended to stir up a hornet's nest (what other purpose can the reader infer from the Post's title "Pregnant Forever"), and she succeeded, at least on B/O. Remember: the primary goal of a newspaper is to sell newspapers. Conversely, the primary role of the journalist is to draw attention to their writing.

  • Matt Harpold (unverified)
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    Oh CDC! How dare you try to solve the conundrum of elevated infant mortality rate! Telling women they should make sure to have lots of folic acid in their diets? You sexist fascists!

    "Politics here is death." -William S Burroughs

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    Of course saying those who are at risk for heart problems to take good care of their heart is not the same as classifying people as "pre-pregnant"! People at risk for heart problems can't get insurance and may be denied health care. People who are "pre-pregnant" are being told to take pre-natal vitimins, just in case they're a little less "pre-pregnant" than they think they are.

    So, hmmmm. "Insulted by being Told To Take Vitamins and not booze it up" -vs- "Denied Care/Allowed to Die". They're different, alright. But which is worse?

    Or perhaps, more aptly, "Insulted by being Told To Take Vitamins and not booze it up" -vs- "Having a kid with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome", which is what the CDC is really concerned about. A lot of people actually - the post-pre-pregnant ones especially; they have 9 long months to worry about it.

    Now if you're right and this really is "just the beginning" of some new insidious right-wing attack on women being able to work, I'll put on my walking shoes and go canvass against whatever else they're trying to do. But so long as it seems like you're merely trying to conjure up offense at doctors telling fertile, sexually active, young women to be a bit more realistic about the chances of an accident, I'll treat you like I do all those "abstenence only" idiots with similar unrealistic expectations about teenagers' self-control.

  • LT (unverified)
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    How much of the infant mortality rate is caused solely by women not taking folic acid and otherwise "not taking care of themselves"? How much of it is due to women who can't get health insurance, are not well nourished because WIC (or any other nutrition program) doesn't work as well as intended, can't get prenatal care or can't get transportation to health appointments?

    Steve is right about NCLB. The fine print (until lots of people screamed) included telling rural schools (who often have one person teaching several subjects--and rural schools are lucky if they can hold onto teachers if the ones they have decide they'd rather live in larger communities)that unless they had teachers qualified (college major or pass a test) in each subject they taught, letters would go to parents saying the teachers were "unqualified" even if those teachers had been succesful for years. No warning, no additional time given (until people screamed) and the Sec. of Education called those teachers who questioned any detail of the NCLB implementation "terrorists".

    Yet we are supposed to believe a CDC report because someone said so, and the report should be believed as written given the track record of this Administration?

    Bush just now is admitting mistakes in Iraq policy, but of course teacher were responsible for NCLB results as soon as it went into effect. The only "accountability" allowed was NCLB tests--not improvement from year to year, not how many kids went on to college, just high stakes tests.

    If you have faith that a CDC report is nothing more than it appears on its face, then fine. But after years of Bush tricks (didn't he once praise now-convicted felon Ken Lay?), don't ask me to believe Bush if he tells me it is raining outside (unless I go outside and get wet).

    According to the Constitution, "we the people" are the government. We are not required to trust a government report (CDC or anything else) will be implemented as it appears on the surface.

    If you don't like that attitude, tough luck.

  • Madam Hatter (unverified)
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    Thanks for posting this Anne. Call me another "paranoid hyperfeminist" if you want, but in light of the CDC's other proclamations (see Pat Ryan's post above), So. Dakota's ban on abortions, the FDA's crazy rulings on the morning after pill, and the huge debate about the new cervical cancer vaccine, I think I have a right.

    From the WaPo article:

    The report recommends that women stop smoking and discuss with their doctor the danger alcohol poses to a developing fetus.

    Research shows that "during the first few weeks (before 52 days' gestation) of pregnancy" -- during which a woman may not yet realize she's pregnant -- "exposure to alcohol, tobacco and other drugs; lack of essential vitamins (e.g., folic acid); and workplace hazards can adversely affect fetal development and result in pregnancy complications and poor outcomes for both the mother and the infant," the report states.

    So now what? Am I going to be charged with child abuse or endangerment because I have a beer after work - because I MIGHT be harming a THEORETICAL baby? Or, like Bob Fancher wrote above: they want to legalize discrimination against women because of POSSIBLE workplace hazards to POTENTIAL babies.

    Why would anyone go to the bother of issuing "new federal guidelines" if these are just common sense health tips that we all are well aware of already? Stop smoking, control asthma and diabetes, avoid lead-based paint... Really? How earth-shattering. We needed a federal study, report and guidelines to tell us this? Duh... What's the point?

    Give me a break. This is ALL about control - it just happens to be directed at women of child bearing age - this time.

    How ironic is it that they can preach about maintaining good health - in this country with 17 million women who lack health insurance - not for the sake of the woman, but for POTENTIAL fetuses. How hypocritical to focus on these things when poverty (and all its associated problems - poor nutrition, health care, etc.) is the #1 cause of infant mortality.

    Why do you suppose U.S. infant mortality increased in 2002 for the first time? Hmmmm.... Let's see if we can figure that one out. It has absolutely nothing to do with the ever-increasing income disparity in this country, does it? No, no, it must be all those selfish, ignorant, health-neglecting "pre-pregnant" women!

  • Frontal Lobotomy (unverified)
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    Before you embarrass yourselves further, you ought to at least skim a few pages of the CDC Report.

    This report is as dry and esoteric as they come. If y'all are going to politicize the CDC's effort to reduce birth defects and infant mortality, then the moderates on this blog don't stand a chance.

  • Bob Fancher (unverified)
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    From the CDC report:

    “The target population for preconception health promotion is women, from menarche to menopause, who are capable of having children, even if they do not intend to conceive.”

    “ . . .limited evidence is available to determine effective methods for delivering preconception care and improving preconception health. Only a limited number of studies regarding effectiveness of interventions have been tested.” (emphasis added)

    “The recommendations are a starting point to make comprehensive preconception care a standard of care in the United States . . .”

    If the motivations, or frame of reference of the recommenders, have nothing to do with politics, why (a) bother to issue a report when there is limited evidence of the effectiveness of the recommended interventions, (b) seek to make those admittedly-poorly-evidenced recommendations a "standard of care," and (c) target all women "even if they do not intend to conceive."

  • jrw (unverified)
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    Y'know, if the CDC is sufficiently concerned about endangering developing foeti, they might also want to be issuing warnings to all men capable of producing reproductive sperm to avoid mutagenic and teratogenic substances.

    Or, if engaged in an intimate relationship with a woman of childbearing age, mandate strict rules which decrease a woman's exposure to any dangerous substance they might be carrying around on their clothing?

    You notice they ain't doing that.

    Gee. Wonder why.

    (and, for the record, I done did my childbearing thing, produced a productive member of society to boot. And I still get a kink in my knickers when I hear about this sort of thing.

    Don't equate attitudes such as Anne's to resentment of childbearing. Those of us who've served our time in the childrearing, childbearing trenches often feel the very same way.)

  • LT (unverified)
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    I clicked on the link to the report. Women of childbearing age are listed as aged 15-44. Will we soon be hearing about parental consent forms for 15 year olds to be told by doctors to make sure they get enough folic acid? What if they live in poor neighborhoods where they might encounter lead based paint? Is telling them to say away from it enough, or should there be programs to get rid of lead based paint? (But then, that might require not giving tax breaks to landlords who haven't cleaned up their properties which still have lead based paint.)

    Here's part of that report--the title is quite a mouthful. Recommendations to Improve Preconception Health and Health Care --- United States A Report of the CDC/ATSDR Preconception Care Work Group and the Select Panel on Preconception Care The 10 recommendations in this report are based on preconception health care for the U.S. population and are aimed at achieving four goals to 1) improve the knowledge and attitudes and behaviors of men and women related to preconception health; 2) assure that all women of childbearing age in the United States receive preconception care services (i.e., evidence-based risk screening, health promotion, and interventions) that will enable them to enter pregnancy in optimal health; 3) reduce risks indicated by a previous adverse pregnancy outcome through interventions during the interconception period, which can prevent or minimize health problems for a mother and her future children; and 4) reduce the disparities in adverse pregnancy outcomes.

    Since I have never heard of "preconception health care" before, I decided to Google the term.

    Among other things, I found this: http://www.americanpregnancy.org/gettingpregnant/menpreconception.htm

    As couples prepare for pregnancy, it is easy to focus only on the woman’s health. However, there are several habits men need to be forming during these critical months of preparation, too. Issues of fertility do not rest solely on the female. According to the Organization of Teratology Information Services (OTIS), "Agents that may cause birth defects do not reach the developing fetus through the father as they do from the pregnant mother." But we do know that male exposure to certain things can lead to some preliminary problems with fertility and also slighly elevate the risk of certain birth defects.

    OK, Idler, Steven, LMAO, tell us what you think of that. Or are we only supposed to be discussing the health of women because men are allowed to do whatever they please?

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    LMAo--

    Maybe you need to read people's posts before you post.

    Never did I say anything even close to:

    "all women are 'pre-pregnant' breeding machines which must be subjected to government or physician monitoring."

    If they really wanted to reduce infant mortality and the like, this isn't how you'd go about doing it. You'd push for sex ed in schools. You'd push for more access to family planning, contraception, etc. You'd have fought hard for insurance companies to be required to cover birth control. You'd push for family clinics where pregnant women and children can go for health care at free or reduced prices. You'd help pregnant women get the healthy foods that they need, and often can't afford. And you wouldn't have the system set up to treat them like idiots or bad parents just because they can't afford health care, healthy food, etc.-- because right now the treatment of parents at these places is enough to make you never come back.

  • Idler (unverified)
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    The aptly named Madam Hatter asks:

    Why do you suppose U.S. infant mortality increased in 2002 for the first time? Hmmmm.... Let's see if we can figure that one out. It has absolutely nothing to do with the ever-increasing income disparity in this country, does it? No, no, it must be all those selfish, ignorant, health-neglecting "pre-pregnant" women!

    Maybe it's all those selfish, overpaid American physicians counting infant mortality in a more concientious way than their colleagues in other First World Countries:

    The Orange County Register reported last year:

    Since the United States generally uses the WHO [World Health Organization] definition of live birth, in their 2004 book "Lives at Risk," economist John Goodman and his colleagues conclude, "Taking into account such data-reporting differences, the rates of low- birth-weight babies born in America are about the same as other developed countries" in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Likewise, infant mortality rates, adjusted for the distribution of newborns by weight, are about the same.

    American advances in medical treatment now make it possible to save babies who would have surely died only a few decades ago. Until recently, very low birth-weight babies - less than 3 pounds - almost always died. Now, some of these babies survive. While such vulnerable babies may live with advanced medical assistance and technology, low birth-weight babies (weighing less than 5.5 pounds) recently had an infant mortality rate 20 times higher than heavier babies, according to WHO. Ironically, U.S. doctors' ability to save babies' lives causes higher infant mortality numbers here than would be the case with less advanced treatment.

  • Levon1715 (unverified)
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    The Orwellian term "pre-pregnant" illustrates the "pre-intelligent" state of the Crusaders in charge.

    Time to end this pre-inebriated state I'm currently experiencing.

  • Idler (unverified)
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    Too bad Levon1715 has moved past his pre-inebriated state. Perhaps, had he remained sober, he could have explained exactly why the term "pre-pregnant" is "Orwellian." (Infelicitous, perhaps. Somewhat silly, maybe. But "Orwellian"?)

    I think Steve Bucknum provides the key: “Nothing is as it seems.”

    Steve, normally a fairly sober commenter, sees the CDC announcement as providing women “every reason to quake in [their] shoes.” His slippery slope drops him into regions sufficiently sinister to lead him to reflect, “where have I heard this all before??? Orwell? Hilter??” He must have been thinking of that Monty Python episode where the dictator concealed his identity by shifting those same consonants. Bucknum concludes that “there is a conspiracy under every rock.” Possibly. And maybe, to paraphrase a character in another Monty Python sketch, there are communists under every bed, eating the wife's jam. There certainly appear to be conspiracy theories under every rock.

    To a certain turn of mind, a concern for public order equates to “fascism,” simply arguing against people with whom one disagrees is branded “censorship” or even “crushing dissent,” and a reconsideration of any part of traditional wisdom about a mother's role in child bearing and rearing amounts to the imminent establishment of the misogynist dystopia limned in The Handmaid's Tale.

    Thus the CDC's recommendations for maximizing the chances of healthy pregnancy amount to “worship of the healthy uterus.” (Shall we give three cheers for the unhealthy uterus...?) To focus on childbirth is to convert women to chattel or, in paulie's world, cattle. The feedlot awaits, he warns, complete with locally produced organic oats.

    Noticing that women get pregnant and men do not is, as Bob Fancher puts it “an illegal status discrimination.”

    LT's language is interesting, in that it bears the same implied contempt for motherhood present in Ann Martens' post. She says:

    Thanks for proving the premise that when some see a girl/ woman of any age they think "baby making machine".

    Of course there's no evidence that the authors of the CDC think that way when they see a woman, but they are simply recognizing reality when they make recommendations related to the fact that women of a certain age are the only such “machine” (to use LT's repugnant phrase) humanity has. Who is LT to say that the recommendations aren't made with awe and wonderment, or simply clinical diligence? Again, that doesn't fit the predetermined fantasy of the heirs of the prophet Atwood.

    Jenni comments with her accustomed gravity about “women in their child-bearing years being singled out” for advice pertinent only to women in their childbearing years. Shocking! And the overwrought, Area-51 enthusiast-worthy commentary continues:

    Men don't actually carry children to term, but it's highly suspicious that they're not given the same advice…

    Evidence is incomplete, leading the CDC to describe the recommendations as a “starting point” rather than the last word. This is seen as extremely fishy…

    At this rate “the CDC will start issuing the burkas,” as paulie puts it, before the Bush presidency is over -- perhaps right after The Handmaid's Tale moral regime is finally established once and for all.

  • Lacy Underall (unverified)
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    Why do liberals feel so much hostility towards other people's unborn babies?

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    Jenni comments with her accustomed gravity about “women in their child-bearing years being singled out” for advice pertinent only to women in their childbearing years.

    Actually, the majority of advice is good for everyone-- healthy food, not smoking or drinking, etc.

    And I love how this so often becomes people attacking those of us who disagree with this as being anti-motherhood, not wanting children, etc. I take offense at that, as I am a mother.

  • LT (unverified)
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    It wasn't a "liberal" who said "you mean to tell me that we fought Communism just so we could tell women they couldn't make decisions about their own bodies?". It was Barry Goldwater, a true conservative.

    And Lacy, there always have been people of the MYOB persuasion (regardless of how they vote) who don't think other people's lives are there responsibility.

    It is one thing to help others in a soup kitchen, food bank, or some other community activity.

    But maybe the younger people here don't remember the early 1980s when there were clergy debating each other over the role of prayer in schools (would it have to be so diluted that some would consider the prayer too weak?) debate over infant formula (was it being sold to countries where there wasn't enough pure water to mix it?), over school lunches (was ketchup a vegetable or a condiment?), over politicians whose voting record included voting the Right to Life party line and then voting for cuts to nutrition programs for mothers and children--and of course supporting the tobacco subsidy because that was an important constituent group in some states.

    There was a college back then where the linguistics dept. published a Journal of Doublespeak--a lot of that in the Reagan years.

    Lacy, are you saying you want to be involved in the lives of expectant mothers in your community whether they want your involvement or not? Are you part of a program like Healthy Start, or just rhetorically active? Should there be a person visiting every new mother to see how she is getting along? Or is that government intervention because if all women of childbearing age would just take their folic acid (starting while still in high school?) and follow all the other suggestions they will automatically have easy deliveries and easy first weeks with their newborns ---and of course all women have great health insurance?

    Or are you just upset that people would question the wisdom of Bush's CDC or any other agency?

    Maybe the Bush Administration should worry more about hurricane preparedness and less about telling women how to prepare for pregnancy without saying how poor women are supposed to pay for medical care.

  • LMAO (unverified)
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    LT:

    I move the previous question: how is the government trying to "control medical decisions"?

    If you want to defend your mindless statement, then please do so. If you want to chalk it up to rhetorical hyperbole, then you can regain some credibility.

    Either way, the Washington Post author took an innocuous report on public health and injected it with polemics and religious zeal that ARE NOT PRESENT IN THE CDC's report. Anne Martens then expanded the zealotry and controversy by focussing on the word "Pre-pregnancy" which IS NOT CONTAINED IN THE CDC's report. Y'all have been duped by poor journalism, selective editing, and a pathological willingness to believe every bureaucracy has been corrupted by Bush ideologues.

    Here is a direct quote that summarizes the heart of the CDC's report...I'd love to see a liberal take issue with any part of this mission:

    Improving preconception health will require changes in the knowledge and attitudes and behaviors of persons, families, communities, and institutions (e.g., government and health-care settings). The purpose of preconception care is to improve the health of each woman before any pregnancy and thereby affect the future health of the woman, her child, and her family. The recommendations and specific action steps were developed as a result of SPPC meeting and implementation of CDC's preconception health programs. The frame work has incorporated both an ecological model and a lifespan perspective on health and recognized the unique contributions and challenges encountered by women, their families, communities, and institutions. Improving the health of women can increase the quality of health for families and the community.

  • Idler (unverified)
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    Jenni, you say,

    Actually, the majority of advice is good for everyone-- healthy food, not smoking or drinking, etc.

    So what? It’s natural that good advice to be prepared for childbirth would contain elements of general good health. Of course it also contains elements that specifically bear on this population in relation to its reproductive capability. You might as well complain that men over 40 are “singled out” by a recommendation that they be screened for prostate cancer.

    You say:

    And I love how this so often becomes people attacking those of us who disagree with this as being anti-motherhood, not wanting children, etc. I take offense at that, as I am a mother.

    I don’t recall anyone saying or implying that you were anti-motherhood or anti-child. I’m confident you’re a wonderful mother. And anyway, I don’t think you have said anything that could be construed as “anti-motherhood.” But others here have, starting with the headline of the post itself. The opinion that emerges is that some notion of “wholeness” is centered on women doing something other than being mothers and caring for children. Motherhood provokes jibes about being “Barefoot and Back in the Kitchen,” it conjures images of cattle pens and “feedlots” where mere ruminant “baby machines” serve their un-self-realizing purpose.

    In LT’s net full of red herring, we find this:

    Should contraception be outlawed because there is nothing a female can do that is more important than giving birth?

    Never mind the irrelevant reference to something nobody here, nor the CDC, has argued for. Just notice the sarcastic comment directed at those who emphasize the importance of "giving birth." And ponder LT’s implied hierarchy of human activities. Now, it’s an interesting question in particular whether the most important thing a woman did in her life was to have children. Perhaps there are some people whose accomplishments are more valuable to the world than their children (though I would hate to be the child on the wrong end of that comparison). But there’s no question that giving birth is one of the most important things women do in general, and that reproduction is one of the most important things done by both sexes. It’s all very well if my or I wife write an important book, improve the standards of construction, make a medical discovery, discover new species, or do any number of useful things. But if people don’t reproduce, there won’t be any more of that, nor any need for it.

    I’ve used the term “hyperfeminist” here because I don’t want to cede the word “feminist” to a certain point of view that believes women are elevated by becoming more like men and looking down on the unique power of women to bear children – a power that ensures the survival of our species. Contempt for motherhood isn't pro-woman.

  • FP (unverified)
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    I think the more important qustion is: why does Anne Martens want to force pregnant women to pump their own gas?

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    jrw: Y'know, if the CDC is sufficiently concerned about endangering developing foeti, they might also want to be issuing warnings to all men capable of producing reproductive sperm to avoid mutagenic and teratogenic substances. You notice they ain't doing that.

    The only thing I notice, jrw, is that you don't know how to use google: The Effects of Workplace Hazards on Male Reproductive Health

  • LMAO (unverified)
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    Anne: just tell your mom to chill. She'll have grandkids when you're good and ready to procreate. If it's not your mom, then don't let peer pressure or your mother-in-law get to you.

    Clearly, somebody is putting pressure on you to have a baby. Why else would you have the knee-jerk reaction outlined above?

    This is the most alarming chapter in the Mommy Wars written to date.

  • Anne (unverified)
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    I am truly amazed by these comments. I thought this was fairly uncontroversial. Silly me.

    LMAO, don't be a jackass, nobody's pressuring me to have a baby.

    I don't have a problem with motherhood, I have great respect for motherhood - at the time and under the circumstances of the woman's and her significant others' choosing.

    I don't have a problem with being healthy. It's obviously a good idea to take care of yourself and take vitamins and stop smoking and exercise and eat vegetables and don't chew on lead-based paint and all of that. We should all be so healthy.

    I have a problem with a government agency defining my life and my body in terms of my reproductive acts. I have a problem with being viewed as primarily a uterus with reproductive potential, and not a whole human being with other-than-reproductive potential and a brain. I have a problem with being told that I am a means to and end (pregnancy).

    I am surprised and dismayed that so many of these comments are so willing dismiss my concerns about my control over my body as stupid or misled or overly-emotional or overly-liberal or just too much like a dumb girl. I thought Oregon was progressive and respectful of women's rights or at least women's rights to voice an opinion. I guess I needed a wake up call.

  • sightunseen (unverified)
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    Reading the comments, its actually quite easy to determine the gender of the commenter. Men should bugger off.

    Ms.Martens, wickedly good writer.

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)
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    Idler writes,

    "Steve, normally a fairly sober commenter, sees the CDC announcement as providing women “every reason to quake in [their] shoes.” His slippery slope drops him into regions sufficiently sinister to lead him to reflect, “where have I heard this all before??? Orwell? Hilter??”"

    Yep. I'd call you up to talk about this, except that we'd be monitored by the NSA, have a permanent record of the phone call, and be forever linked in our conspiracy.

    Orwell wrote 1984 in the post Hilter era. We now have achieved "War is peace". Anyone remember the rest?

  • Jonathan (unverified)
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    At some level, does this discussion start to overlap with a discussion of abortion, in that it implicates a woman's control over her body? It's a tension that I think pops up in many areas. What do we think should happen if a woman drinks so much while pregnant that her child has fetal alcohol syndrome? If we think that's punishable conduct, then should we be regulating whether a pregnant woman can drink anything (I think about the sideways glances my wife sometimes got, when she was pregnant, when she had the temerity to order a glass of wine)? And what if there was medical evidence that a "pre-pregnant woman," (what a dumb term) really meaning "not pregnant but still of an age where that'a possibility," who drank and smoked before she was pregnant actually posed a threat to any baby she might have? I think that would be a difficult policy matter. Of course, there is no such medical evidence, and the CDC report says it's coming from very little factual or medical grounding.

    But the real difficulty for me then comes with inconsistency. We actually DO have LOTS of evidence that women who don't have health care end up giving birth to babies in circumstances where those babies have a lesser chance at a good life. So rather than suffering through the angst of whether the CDC should look out for things about which there is little or no evidence, why isn't the government looking to do things that will unquestionably help kids' chances?

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    Anne, I don't see the CDC as defining anyone's "life and body in terms of reproductive acts". In fact, I don't see anything the CDC said as advocating any sort of governmental control over your body.

    Now I'm willing to be proved wrong. But if you'd like to go that route, you would be a lot more convincing if you directly quoted the CDC's offensive text. So long as you continue to put words in people's mouths, invent malicious motivations without factual examples, and talk about absurd "logical implications" which are not (so far as I can tell) being advocated, then you're being at least as much of a jackass as LMAO was with his personal comments.

    To follow my own advice, when you say: "I thought Oregon was progressive and respectful of women's rights or at least women's rights to voice an opinion", you are equating my less-than-absolute-agreement with your views as a form of censorship. And, as a card-carrying member of the ACLU, I find that offensive. I absolutely support your right to voice your opinion. Please respect mine.

  • Rodney King (unverified)
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    Here's a more objective review of the same Washington Post article

    Everybody needs to chill out. The CDC Report doesn't say what Anne Martens has alleged. The Washington Post clearly erred in publishing this "news" article.

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    sightunseen: Reading the comments, its actually quite easy to determine the gender of the commenter.

    Really? You can? Based on my name, you know I'm a transgendered orangutan?

    sightunseen: Men should bugger off.

    Why? So that you can shield your delicate mind from opinions for which you have no answer? Seriously, how is your attitude any different from the Bush Administrations'?

  • Idler (unverified)
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    Anne, are LMAO’s assumptions about your mom (or whoever) any worse than yours about the CDC?

    How do you get from the fact that the CDC recognizes that you have reproductive potential to their reducing you to nothing but reproductive potential? In any number of ways government (and other) organizations look at us as means to ends, such as sources of tax revenue, consumers of services, or a thousand other things. That doesn’t amount to a policy of denying that we’re also ends in ourselves.

    To simply make recommendations isn’t to wrest control of your body away from you. I don’t think anybody here has called you a “dumb girl” or anything remotely like that, so it’s odd and discreditable for you to play that card just because you got called on what you wrote. Respect for your right to voice your opinion doesn’t imply respect for what those opinions turn out to be. Once again, merely engaging someone’s arguments is described as something akin to censorship.

    If you’re going to stand up on your soapbox, and especially if you’re going to feel free about ridiculing other points of view, be prepared to deal with the reactions. Stand up and take it like a woman instead of whining and accusing your opponents of denying your right to express yourself.

    I don’t doubt you actually have respect for motherhood because it’s likely that instinct (the kind that motivates the feelings of both men and women toward actual mothers) makes you a better person than your rhetoric. Those who adopt ugly rhetorical positions toward motherhood (e.g., that it diminishes a woman to being “Barefoot and Back in the Kitchen”) are still likely to be wonderful aunts and uncles, exemplary mothers and doting grandparents when they are in contact with the real product of what they so contemptuously call the “baby factory.”

  • Anne (unverified)
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    Dude, do not talk about my mother. Simple courtesy.

    That said, Idler, it seems clear to me and most others that my blogging hardly has me hiding from (often ridiculous) reactions. I haven't censored you or anybody else here, but many of the arguments made were not against my argument but against me. Ad hominem attack, classic fallacy. So if you have something relevant to say, make the argument, but don't attack me or my family and don't hide behind a pseudonym.

  • woman (unverified)
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    I don't care much about the CDC calling me pre-pregnant but I do care about a bunch of hostile men responding so harshly to this posting. Next time I have an opinion about my uterus I will try to think about how it will effect male Blue Oregon readers before expressing it. Jeez.

  • Anne (unverified)
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    Am I on some sort of right-wing RSS feed? This is unbelievable.

  • Katy (unverified)
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    WOW. I thought this was 2006.

    I'm trying to figure out what category to fit myself into. I guess pre-pregnat. Wait a minute - what if I never have a baby? What if I can't? How will I ever define myself???? ACK!!!!!!!!

    Good post Anne.

  • Katy (unverified)
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    "Next time I have an opinion about my uterus I will try to think about how it will effect male Blue Oregon readers before expressing it. Jeez."

    Ha! That was funny.

  • Larry (unverified)
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    OMFG. How could anything in that article be taken as a sign of encroaching gov't reach? They're just saying to take care of yourself a little better if you're of child-bearing age, that's all! Just like they tell men to start getting prostrate exams at a certain age. Just like they recommend different supplements when you turn a certain age. Etc, etc, etc. What a freakin' NON-STORY!!

  • LT (unverified)
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    directly quoted the CDC's offensive text.

    How about starting with the headline of the article?

    Can someone show me a CDC publication on "the relation between prenatal care and healthy birth"?

    Or maybe there is research on why some women who are healthy and have no bad habits sometimes give birth to premature babies? Or the relationship between fertility drugs, multiple births, and possible link to cancer?

    But no, that isn't what is important to them.

    The title of the report is: Recommendations to Improve Preconception Health and Health Care --- United States A Report of the CDC/ATSDR Preconception Care Work Group and the Select Panel on Preconception Care

    OK, who actually are the members of the CDC/ATSDR Preconception Care Work Group and what does ATSDR stand for? Who came up with "Preconception " as part of the title? Who are the members of the Select Panel on Preconception Care? Who appointed them?

    It is not required that we read and debate the text of the report (if a blogger has a favorite section, copy it on this blog for us to read)--and we have the right to know the background of the authors.

    Or aren't we supposed to ask that because some of the members might have an agenda some bloggers don't want to discuss?

  • LMAO (unverified)
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    THE CDC REPORT NEVER USED THE TERM PRE-PREGNANT!

    This phrase was penned by Jennifer Payne (of the Washington Post) in order to generate some buzz, just as the headline "Forever Pregnant" was designed to inflame feminist idignation.

    You have been played by Jennifer Payne's inflammatory article, Ms. Martens. You need to read the CDC Report again and ask yourself if it was intended to diminish the rights and/or totality of women's lives.

  • mconley (unverified)
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    Anne: I too am amazed at the vitriol shown in these posts. Said vitriol, however, proves your point and proves the guts it takes to be a woman standing up for what she believes in, especially if it's to be regarded as more than a baby factory. Don't get between your womb and society's need for re-creation. How dare you??

    Now go off and enjoy your Memorial Day weekend, sans shoes, with a bun in the oven, Missie!

  • LT (unverified)
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    LMAO, you seem to have read the article. Did you know that the acronym in the title refers to The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR)

    When I googled that, I found this description "ATSDR is a federal public health agency with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, and 10 regional offices in the United States. ATSDR's mission is to serve the public by using the best science, taking responsive public health actions, and providing trusted health information to prevent harmful exposures and diseases related to toxic substances. ATSDR is not a regulatory agency..."

    So, in the report, are any toxic substances discussed other than saying women of childbearing age should stay away from lead based paint?

    Does the report say what a 15 year old who discovers they are living in (or perhaps attending school in) and old building containing lead based paint is supposed to do about that?

    OK OK OK, the Washington Post reporter didn't quote the report accurately. You have made that very clear. Now, can you answer the question about whether any toxic substance other than lead based paint is named in the report? Or what women from the age of 15-44 (child bearing age range, as I recall) who find themselves in a place where there are toxic substances are supposed to do? Does it say women in that age range should not be allowed to work in any place containing possible toxic substances?

    Show us your preference--answering specific questions or just telling us to read the report because the Wash. Post reporter used a term not in the report?

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    Again, Anne, I see only broad unsupported assertions in your text. No quotes, no examples, of this supposed "Ad Homenum" attack. This for an obvious reason: aside from LMAO's attempt to intuit some other motivation for your determined attempts to mischaracterize the CDC's study - despite repeated fact based refutations that you REFUSE to address - there really aren't any.

    Pointing out that your factual assertion upon which you based your original screed - that the CDC called women "prepregnant" - is absolutely FALSE, is not an "Ad Homenum" argument. The fact that you refuse to acknowledge this critique, and instead choose attack the gender of those who pointed this out, is.

    I can't speak for the entirety of Blue Oregon, but the reason you got the reaction you did from me, is that I have simply had it with maniulative, counter-factual, argumentation. You hear it every day on right-wing radio, which is why I don't listen to it. And if I don't accept it from my opponents, I certainly won't accept it from my friends.

    So drop the "truthiness" Anne. Argue the facts. Until you do, I will respect neither your logic nor your opinions.

  • Geez... (unverified)
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    This is like bizarro world!

    Couldn't ONE guy say something to the effect "yeah, it would suck to always be defined by your ability to make babies - or how big your boobs are - or if you're pretty enough."

    Nope. They're all FREAKING OUT!!!!!

    Thanks for the support!

  • LMAO (unverified)
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    Anne: I support your right to express your opinion, no matter how misinformed or illogical it appears to me. I fail to understand how the promotion of prenatal and preconception health is offensive to you.

    It's no different than the surgeon general telling us that tobacco kills, or the public campaigns for breast cancer awareness and testing. It's not anti-woman or discriminatory to suggest that breast cancer strikes women with greater frequency just like it's not anti-cowboy to suggest that chewing tobacco can lead to lip cancer.

    LT:

    Here's the answer to your challenge question:

    Current Trends State-Specific Trends Among Women Who Did Not Receive Prenatal Care

    The CDC has long list of publications addressing the relationship between maternal health and post delivery outcomes

  • geno (unverified)
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    This is one brother who says: My sister should be honored as a human being and respected for whatever her aspirations are. Not one sought to be influenced in her behavior. But free to become what she wishes to. Think about it. Do you define your sister by her physical attributes, or her capabilities to procreate or not. Nah. My love for my sister (all family for that matter) is unconditional and supportive in her aspirations. My dream is that we evolve as humanity to seeing every being in the same light we view our family. Only then will we be free of gender based distinctions. Respect individuality in others as much as you embrace your own. Peace!

  • Ben Dover (unverified)
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    Hey, babe, what's for dinner tonight?

    And, can you get me a beer?

  • Sid (unverified)
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    It was my impression when I came of political age during the Reagan years that conservatives hated this kind of government advice. They hated the food pyramid because it was a "waste of taxpayer money" to develop it, and "how dare the government tell us what we should eat." It was the "do-gooder" edicts from the government that made 80s conservatives squirm.

    And now look, we have a new generation of conservatives posting snarky comments on Blue Oregon defending Bush's CDC's supposed "do-gooder" edicts. And don't they realize that folic acid, like global warming, is a myth?

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    Aaaah, those big-government conservatives. Aren't they fun?

  • LT (unverified)
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    Loved what Kari said.

    Still don't know if the authors of the report were hired as career CDC employees or if they are political appointees.

    And the title of the above linked article does not explain why this report comes out in 2006.

    My definition of "current" is within the last few years. Here is the title of the linked article.

    Current Trends State-Specific Trends Among Women Who Did Not Receive Prenatal Care -- United States, 1980-1992

    So, that would be women "who did not get prenatal care"--not all women of child bearing age?

    Should "single women who might get pregnant" be covered under a report like this? Or only women trying to get pregnant?

    And in that time frame, women who fell thru the cracks of nutrition programs might have had problems even if they never smoked, never drank (and was folic acid pushed in those years as it is now?) and didn't live in buildings with lead based paint but had trouble getting prenatal care---gosh, if only they'd taken care of themselves in the years before they became pregnant, they would have been fine?

    That time span includes the years when Reagan was trying to get ketchup approved as a vegetable in school lunches. But is nutrition covered in the current report, and was it covered in the earlier report (yes, I do have better things to do with my time than read the whole thing). Of course, when the whole point is to bash anyone who questions the wisdom of the Bush Administration, what's a few details?

  • LT (unverified)
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    Interesting that one of the ads on this page is for a different study.

    http://host.veritasmedicine.com/index.cfm?cid=182196&did=881&rfr=goo

  • Sid (unverified)
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    It was my impression when I came of political age during the Reagan years that conservatives hated this kind of government advice. They hated the food pyramid because it was a "waste of taxpayer money" to develop it, and "how dare the government tell us what we should eat." It was the "do-gooder" edicts from the government that made 80s conservatives squirm.

    And now look, we have a new generation of conservatives posting snarky comments on Blue Oregon defending Bush's CDC's supposed "do-gooder" edicts. And don't they realize that folic acid, like global warming, is a myth?

  • (Show?)

    What conservatives are those, Sid? Aside from BlueOregon's honorary troll, Ben Dover, who hasn't posted until just now?

    Last time I checked, in Steven Colbert's immortal words, "Facts have a liberal bias". So it's rather disheartening to see my fellow liberals reduced to name-calling when they can't support their beliefs with solid fact and logic. I'd have hoped people on our side would never resort to Republican tactics, but I guess that was too much to ask.

    The deepest irony of this thread is that the scourage Ms. Martins rails against is nearly as antiquated as her arguments. These days, men who seek to force their wives into a life of procreative servitude are as rare as hen's teeth. The complaint I hear most often is the reverse: failure to commit, avoidance of marriage, and/or unwillingness to support a family.

    Insofar as I can tell, there is no political movement - conservative or liberal - that rails against that particular defect in men, painful as it may be. I only hope the young women in this forum don't discover it ten years too late, with their biological alarm clocks clanging like Big Ben.

  • Levon (unverified)
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    Idler - In labeling the term "pre-pregnant" Orwellian, I was thinking specifically of his essay, "Politics and the English Language." Here is a link: http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/orwell46.htm

  • LMAO (unverified)
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    I found the so called brochure those baby loving extremists at the CDC came up with to promote their women=womb agenda. It's a 12 page PDF file, so those with dial-up will notice that it takes a few minutes to load...

    Here's the CDC "Preconception Brochure": notice how the woman pictured on the cover is being objectified and demeaned by her controlling husband!

  • Rodney King (unverified)
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    DAMN! That's the second bullshit detector I've busted on this thread.

    It just kept flashing TILT! TILT! TILT! whenever the neo-leftists accused those bastards at the CDC of trying to prevent birth defects.

    Probably just a bunch of political appointees.

    Can't we all just get along?

  • mconley (unverified)
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    Okay, so I read the first 7 pages of the report thoroughly, then skimmed the rest. If you guys can't see how the report 1) values women's health only as a factor of their ability to bear healthy children while 2) pretending that there are "medical outlets" for all the "interventions" they would like to exist to "help" women live healthy pre-pregnancy lives, then you live in an altered reality. I'd like to visit that planet some day. Unfortunately, I live in the reality-based community.

    I also read through lots of other people's posts on Blue Oregon about other topics and have realized the same sad cast of characters posts their venom here - mostly with fake names and without the guts to leave email addresses to respond to them. On Daily Kos, we'd call these guys "trolls" and we all know there's only one way to deal with trolls in your blog:

    Chicken with Lots of Garlic

    3-4 heads of garlic 4-5 stalks of celery 6 leg and thigh chicken portions 1/3 cup olive oil 12 peeled small whie onions (optional) 1 T chopped fresh tarragon or 1/2 tsp dried salt and freshly ground pepper

    Separate the garlic heads into cloves, and blanch in boiling water for one minute. Run the cloves under cold water, drain and peel. Wash the celery, dry, and cut into 1/4 x 3 inch strips. Rub the chicken with oil and place into an oiled casserole. Top with the peeled garlic cloves, celery, onions (if you like), and tarragon. Pour over any remaining oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover tightly and bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 1.5 hours. Serves four.

    I was barefoot and ovulating when I typed this recipe. Enjoy, trolls and friends!

  • Jennifer (unverified)
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    Mconley:

    You've been reading and writing about politics for too long.

    The CDC Report is intended to reduce birth defects and promote general health. How can you possibly object to that?

    The second sentence of the Summary reads:

    The goal of these recommendations is to improve the health of women and couples, before conception of a first or subsequent pregnancy.

    The second sentence of the Introduction reads:

    Preconception care aims to promote the health of women of reproductive age before conception and thereby improve pregnancy related outcomes.

    They aren't trying to hide the fact they can't help the fetus without helping the mother. Duhhhh! But to suggest they don't care about the mother's welfare UNLESS she's having a baby is illogical: since half of all births are unplanned (and those women who procreate are not identifiable in advance of conception), the CDC reached an obvious conclusion: TRY TO IMPROVE THE HEALTH AND CARE AVAILABLE TO ALL WOMEN. Conversely, if they announced an initiative to provide new guidelines and benefits that would only be available to women who expressed a willingness to procreate, the HUE and CRY from BlueOregon's feminists would fry Kari's T-1 line.

    If you think helping ALL WOMEN diminshes those who never actually reproduce, then a little logic is unlikely to change your mind.

    You might as well blame Sara Lee for putting folic acid in every loaf of bread they bake: if only procreating women must increase their folic acid intake, shouldn't it be labeled "procreating women's bread"?

    They could bake a special "man's concentration bread" with a testosterone antidote that would help men stare at our eyes instead of our breasts while they're talking to us.

    Or a "dumbass liberal bread" that would require you speak in complete paragraphs rather than bumper sticker sentences like "I live in the reality-based community" or the ever popular "Nobody died when Clinton Lied."

    Thank you for reminding me why I registered Independent (and goodbye Democratic Dogma).

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)
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    Thanks Anne -

    Thanks for raising the subject - Thanks for not backing down - Thanks for calling a troll a troll -

    In this thread following your post, I have learned that under Bush's version of America, not only do find (we already knew this)

    War is Peace

    but we now find that women are again seen as only reproductive vessels by a certain crowd now in power. I knew that this group viewed our individual freedoms as a threat, but this thread has reinforced my view that some Americans have so embraced this line of thinking that they have for "patriotic" reasons come to to believe that the only way to stay free is to follow our leader -

    Freedom is Slavery

    Anyone who disagrees with their viewpoint is viewed as a traitor to our country, or in cases here we see that somehow people who disagree just don't get how good this current form of leadership is for us. The Bush Administration is only there for our betterment they argue.

    Ignorance is Strength

    This single issue more than any we have discussed on Blue Oregon of late pulls the cover off of the true spirit of the far right - an Orwellian spirit.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Steve is right on!

    Trolls never wanted a serious debate on this issue (serious in such things as who appointed the people who wrote the report).

    Impossible to find in a few minutes of web searching exactly who appointed the people who prepared the report in question. But in the process I did find this interesting site. It mentions Medicaid and family planning, two items the folks who got mad at Anne don't seem to want to discuss.

    http://www.medpagetoday.com/OBGYN/Pregnancy/tb/3136 The authors concluded that implementing these recommendations will improve reproductive awareness, ensure that pregnancies are intended and planned, improve screening of women for risks of pregnancy before conception, and improve interconception care for women who have a history of poor pregnancy outcome.

    The recommendations, however, relied on improvements in Medicaid services for family planning. The authors noted that an estimated 17 million women don't have health insurance, and the group most at risk for lack of insurance is women ages 18 to 34—the specific group that expanded reproductive services is recommended.

    The authors suggested that as states "seek to expand Medicaid coverage to persons with low incomes and adults who do not have health insurance, women of childbearing age should receive priority for Medicaid coverage."

  • Lemming Patrol (unverified)
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    Steve:

    Did you bother to read the CDC Report? A simple yes or no will suffice. The Washington Post author (Ms. Payne) clearly misconstrued the focus and the objective of the CDC Report. Ms. Martens took the Post's misconstruction to it's illogical conclusion, and proceeded to complain about how illogical and extreme it was. Rich irony, that.

    If you wonder why it's so dark in there, you may consider pulling your head out of your [email protected]@#0le!

    LT:

    You stated above:

    Maybe the role of women to control their own bodies as much as men do is under attack?

    I've read all your posts (many of which offer a barely tangential relationship to anything in the CDC Report), and I've read the CDC Report (twice). There are no coercive mandates that would diminish a women's control over her body. There is no attempt to discourage contraception or reduce women's access to healthcare.

    Why are the most liberal among us so eager to follow their liberal lemming brothers and sisters over the idealogical cliffs?

  • Idler (unverified)
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    There has been some pretty harsh commentary here about people who had the effrontery to disagree with Anne on this but I haven’t seem much straightforward attention to our positions. It’s all just a sign of some kind of descent into an Orwellian nightmare, according to Steve Bucknum. If this isn’t a hysterical reaction to what’s been argued against Anne’s post, I don’t know what would be.

    I ask again: How does recognizing the fact that women of a certain age reproduce tantamount to reducing them to nothing but reproductive vessels? What process of mind, colored by what prejudice, leads one to jump to such a conclusion?

    Apparently anyone with the gall to challenge a poster and her allies here is a “troll.” So much for the sensitivity toward ad hominem attacks… As far as the charge of hiding behind a pseudonym is concerned, I use the name I came up with when I was invited to post at MyVeryBrain (since discontinued) by the proprietor of that site, who has been a contributor to BlueOregon. He used a pseudonym, so I adopted one. Also, I write professionally under my own name so I’d prefer that anyone looking for my work find what is intended for publication if they happen to search it. In any event, my e-mail address is here should anyone like to correspond with me. If Kari Chisholm (with whom I have corresponded under my own name, and knows who I am) forbids pseudonyms, I won’t use one. Otherwise, anyone who wants to know who I am can find out easily enough.

  • LT (unverified)
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    OK, let's have some serious discussion.

    Item 1: Is this a class where the assignment was "read the CDC report and debate the contents, using no references not contained in the report"? Or is this Blue Oregon?

    I once had a college class where were were assigned scholarly book reports. One week I got an A with a notation that my work was of publication quality because I had brought outside references to bear on the author's work, although that was not part of the assignment. But we are not allowed to do that here because some write comments saying we will not be treated seriously unless we have read the whole report (and how dare anyone say we have the right to decide how to spend our time--it is our duty to read the whole report, dontcha know!)

    Some of us who use outside resources here are regarded as being upset because we don't want to admit that women of a certain age can bear children. May I remind you that there are women of a more advanced age who recall as young women sometimes being told that should be their only role in life--a job or anything else was secondary.

    Item 2: May I remind you this is Blue Oregon, defined as "What is BlueOregon? BlueOregon is a place for progressive Oregonians to gather..."

    Start your own blog if you want a debate on nothing other than the text of the CDC report. In a free country we are allowed to debate the existence of the report, why it was published now, why they chose the title, who appointed the authors, etc.

    Item 3: There have been comments here like "the liberals among us".

    Time for a refresher, from an online dictionary: liberal: One who is open-minded or not strict in the observance of orthodox, traditional, or established forms or ways conservative: an adherent or advocate of political conservatism

    Item 4: Some here think it offensive that anyone would do a web search to find out more about the report---if only we would all take the time to read the entire report, we'd agree with it! HUH?

    Is it a radical idea to do a web search about a report and see what others might have to say about it?

    From http://www.medpagetoday.com/OBGYN/Pregnancy/tb/3136 comes the quote: The recommendations, however, relied on improvements in Medicaid services for family planning. The authors noted that an estimated 17 million women don't have health insurance, and the group most at risk for lack of insurance is women ages 18 to 34—the specific group that expanded reproductive services is recommended.

    I seem to recall elsewhere that the age range 15-44 was mentioned.

    Are women who can't afford health insurance supposed to take folic acid anyway because someday they might get pregnant (and is spinach a good source of folic acid or must it be taken as a supplement?). Or does the report imply Medicaid should pay for the health exams suggested?

    Are there any things men should do in their child bearing years, or is this only about telling women what they should do? (Or is that a subversive question?)

    Are any one of those screaming READ THE WHOLE REPORT advocates for better health care for all?

    Or am I just being subversive because I refuse to confine this discussion to the text of the report?

  • LMAO (unverified)
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    LT:

    Before training your intellectual flamethrower on the CDC's treatment of women's health issues, a few minutes investigating the CDC's handling of women's health issues would have been prudent. If you want to scream "ITS AN OUTRAGE" you really need to have some factual basis for your outrage. Otherwise, you sound like an uninformed bully.

    To answer your question, the CDC report did address the need for the entire family to be healthy in advance of conception. Other CDC reports have dealt with reproductive toxicity that men may encounter (affecting them and their family members).

    As much as feminists are loath to admit it, the female of our species is uniquely tasked with fetal development post-fertilization (pre-partum). Excluding chromosomal abnormalities, mothers are simply more important (biologically speaking) than fathers. If a public health report is going to focus on reducing birth defects, infant mortality, and preventable adverse outcomes, they will HAVE TO FOCUS MORE ATTENTION ON THE FEMALE. It's not discrimination; it's biology.

    The CDC has published myriad reports on violence against women, assisted reproductive technologies, contraception, and a wide array of social and medical topics related to reproduction much of which would offend many "anti-big government" conservatives.

    Hiding behind your admitted ignorance of the topic is a poor excuse for a rebuttal.

  • LT (unverified)
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    So here is a question from a "flamethrower".

    An actual quote from the report:

    The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) have classified the main components of preconception care into four categories of interventions: physical assessment, risk screening, vaccinations, and counseling. Eight areas of risk screening are 1) reproductive awareness; 2) environmental toxins and teratogens; 3) nutrition and folic acid; 4) genetics; 5) substance use, including tobacco and alcohol; 6) medical conditions and medications; 7) infectious diseases and vaccination; and 8) psychosocial concerns (e.g., depression or violence) (3,24,26--31,33).

    Exactly how are these risk screenings to be covered? Are the authors lobbying Congress for health care coverage for women of childbearing age?

    Or aren't we supposed to ask that question?

    Are all those who are hostile to Anne's post just angry at those of us who support Anne's right to post the article on this topic? Or that we are not accepting as the revealed truth what LMAO said, " a public health report is going to focus on reducing birth defects, infant mortality, and preventable adverse outcomes, they will HAVE TO FOCUS MORE ATTENTION ON THE FEMALE."

  • LMAO (unverified)
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    If if, ands, or buts were cherries and nuts, we'd all have a Merry Christmas.

    Which is a polite way of saying your drivel does not merit a more thoughtful reply.

  • koz (unverified)
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    The reason people have their shorts bunched up regarding Ms. Marten's post is that she does the same thing that intellectual right-wing luminaries such as Rush Limbaugh, Anne Coulter, and Michelle Malkin do when they write their drivel. That is, they don't usually use primary sources and they focus whatever factual information that is actually being used through some ideological lens and distort the facts. It didn't appear that she actually read the CDC report but instead, just regurgitated the spin that the Washington Post placed on the article and built her post on that shaky foundation.

    It is immensely disappointing that people on BlueOregon will support or defend inaccuracies and attack people (ie. LT)who actually read the CDC report. Intellectual dishonesty or laziness even in the defense of supposedly progressive positions should not be condoned.

  • Lady Celtic (unverified)
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    Isn't this just FABULOUS.... And I totally agree, who is going to pay for me to keep my chronic health problems under control? Who is going to pay for the blood work I need every three months to make sure my thyroid levels are "OK"?

    Its CRAP and I agree, where are the "reccomendations" for the men?? How do they think babies are made in the first damn place? It takes a MAN somewhere along the line, no matter HOW you concieve...

  • LT (unverified)
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    It is immensely disappointing that people on BlueOregon will support or defend inaccuracies and attack people (ie. LT)who actually read the CDC report

    Not sure if I should be insulted by that, given that I have quoted above from the text of the report AND another website commenting on the report.

    Thanks to Lady Celtic for the comment.

    Just got an email from a friend of mine (which among other things talked about those who read but never comment) remarking on this topic in particular--that on the topic Bare Foot and Pregnant, my friend saw I was "involved in all sorts of work researching and posting to make that conversation more interesting".

    Now maybe there are those here who think reading the entire CDC report is a pre-requisite to commenting here. (If someone read the whole report and quoted chapter and verse on where they disagreed, how would those who say "you should read the whole report" react?)

    But one of my friends thinks my comments here have been interesting, so I guess I didn't do too badly.

  • (Show?)

    Just came across Dan Savage's latest column in which he adds his take on this:

    Color me paranoid, but ordering American women to regard themselves as "pre-pregnant" because they may harm a fetus they don't know they're carrying opens the door to prosecuting women who harm their fetuses by failing to regard themselves as "pre-pregnant." How long until "women should...refrain from smoking [and] maintain a healthy body weight" becomes "women must..." Does that sound paranoid? Well, so did a war on contraception once. Oddly enough, Bush's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn't urge straight men to regard themselves as existing in a perpetual state of "pre-fatherhood." Smoking, obesity, asthma, and diabetes could seriously hamper a man's ability to do the heavy lifting that comes with fatherhood. But Bush's CDC doesn't seem that interested in regulating the behavior of all those fat, smoking pre-fathers out there. Gee. Isn't. That. Weird.

    'Nuff said.

  • LMAO (unverified)
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    "Nuff Said":

    I hate to piss on your parade, but the CDC never used the term "Pre-Pregnant".

    The Washington Post article coined the term to create the above tempest. Guess what? It worked!

    I am amazed how lowly you all value the truth.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Instead of telling us what the report doesn't say, tell us what the report does say.

    And is the language more clear than that of the NCLB supporters who say "the legislation never mentions failing schools--it says schools not making annual yearly progress would be subject to sanctions"?

    Many people would summarize that mouthful as failing.

    But then, that is why the Journal of Doublespeak has been around for so many years.

    http://webserve.govst.edu/pa/Introduction/reviews.htm

  • LMAO (unverified)
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    LT:

    The first sentence of Anne Martens' post, as well as the headline of the Washington Post, BOLDLY trumpets the phrase "PRE-PREGNANT".

    You, and many others (Kari included) repeated "PRE-PREGNANT" with much derision. The fact the CDC never used the phrase is more than just a footnote. Your callous dismissal of my repeated attempts to point out your error is met with this gem:

    Instead of telling us what the report doesn't say, tell us what the report does say.

    Here's what the report does say: the CDC is going to make additional public health outreach and eduction efforts to reduce birth defects, pre-term deliveries, and infant mortality. It will not be coercive, punitive, or harmful to a woman's right to continue harming herself and her unborn child.

    The New Left (ably represented above) has made it abundantly clear they place greater value on women's rights (including alcohol and tobacco abusers) than on her unborn child. The politicization of prenatal care is the latest round in the Triple AAA (Anytime-Anyplace-Abortion) lobby that puts greater value on the life of a week old kitten than a 40 week old human fetus.

    It is this kind of extremism that helps explain why George Bush was elected to the White House. Twice.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Gosh, then I must not be a member of the New Left: The New Left (ably represented above) has made it abundantly clear they place greater value on women's rights (including alcohol and tobacco abusers) than on her unborn child.

    I think women should refrain from alcohol and tobacco if pregnant, and men and women both refrain from tobacco always (a friend of mine who was a heavy smoker died of cancer at the age of 55.)

    I just don't see how total strangers should be making medical decisions rather than a woman, her doctor, her family and those close to her (incl. religious community if she is involved in one).

    Not only that, but I was raised that conservatives believe in giving up "the right to legislate the answer to everything". (Google former US Senator Robert Taft if you never heard of him--Mr. Republican of the late 1940s, early 1950s).

    There has to be some middle ground between "every child concieved must be born, and a woman loses the right to make her own medical decisions at that moment, even if the pregnancy is a result of rape and incest" on the one hand, and the concept that there should be no health warnings to women who are or may become pregnant on the other hand.

    Reasonable people search for that compromise, they don't make cracks like "Here's what the report does say: the CDC is going to make additional public health outreach and eduction efforts to reduce birth defects, pre-term deliveries, and infant mortality. It will not be coercive, punitive, or harmful to a woman's right to continue harming herself and her unborn child."

    Bush was elected twice due to very close results (questionably close in the minds of some) in Florida 2000, and Ohio 2004. Trying to predict Oregon results in 2006 on those close votes is risky at best.

  • Laughing My ASS off at LT! (unverified)
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    LT wrote: I just don't see how total strangers should be making medical decisions rather than a woman, her doctor, her family and those close to her....

    ...Trying to predict Oregon results in 2006 on those close votes is risky at best.

    1. The "total strangers" you reference are who, specifically?

    2. What specific "medical decisions" are they making for her?

    3. Nobody made any predictions on the outcome of Oregon's 2006 elections. Please correct me if I am mistaken.

    Do you have some kind of reading disorder, LT?

  • jami (unverified)
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    i spend some time on feminist blogs, and the best way to get rid of the inevitable trolls is to starve them to death.

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