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Posts from the ‘pregnancy’ Category

Misunderstanding Miscarriage

By Lara Freidenfelds

Miscarriage rarely makes the news, except in tabloids. But last year, Virginia state Senator Mark Obenshain’s ill-advised attempt to require Virginia women to report all miscarriages to the police contributed to his failure to become Virginia’s state attorney general. The bill, introduced in 2009, haunted his race for the position. Obenshain was trying to demonstrate his moral outrage over the case of a frightened teenager who had given birth to a premature stillborn baby, and disposed of it in a dumpster. It was a tragic case, to all observers. But instead of asking how his state could better provide sex education and contraception, or provide support to teens who get pregnant, he wrote a bill aimed at surveillance and punishment. On penalty of up to a year in prison, women would be required to report all incidences of fetal demise occurring outside a physician’s supervision to the police. They were to report the pregnant woman’s name and the location of the remains, and would not be allowed to dispose of them without police supervision.

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The Pain of Choice: Late Term Abortion and Catastrophic Fetal Diagnoses

By Ginny Engholm

Recently, there’s been a lot of talk in both the political sphere and the blogosphere about the magic twentieth week of pregnancy. For some women, blissfully unaware of the fragility of modern pregnancy, it’s the date at which they find out if they should paint the nursery pink or blue. It’s the date that they schedule the “gender-reveal” party. It’s the date at which the baby goes from being an “it” to a “he” or “she.” For others, it is the thin red line of the abortion debate, the indisputable moment of personhood, the fractious moment where anti-abortion advocates can say, “Aha! It’s really a person after all. You couldn’t possibly think that having an abortion is okay now, could you?”, the moment at which so-called late-term abortion becomes unthinkable for a large majority of the public. For some unlucky women, women like me and like Phoebe Day Danziger, it’s both.

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The Pregnant Body Beautiful

By Carrie Pitzulo

Sometime in the mid-1990s, I journeyed to see pop goddess Tina Turner in concert. Her opening act was the equally fabulous Cyndi Lauper. I assume, and hope, that Cyndi sang “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” and “Time After Time,” but I truly don’t remember the details, except for one. What I remember is that as one of the few out feminists in American entertainment, Cyndi preached to the crowd the necessity of acknowledging and respecting pregnant women. Indeed, even from my crummy seat, I could see that she was visibly pregnant. She bopped around the stage, and among the crowd, seemingly unhindered by her baby bump. I distinctly remember her insisting that we not force pregnant women “into the basement,” hidden from society’s view. To paraphrase, Cyndi told us that pregnant women should be able “to walk in the sun,” just like the characters in her biggest hit.

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Pretty Women Use Birth Control

By Rebecca M. Bender

I recently came across this amazing vintage video "Family Planning," produced by Disney in 1968. Do yourself a favor and take 10 minutes to watch it. In addition to the frivolous use of Donald Duck and the caricature of a "simple" heterosexual couple who appear clueless as to how babies are made, this short film provides us with a wealth of information regarding attitudes towards reproduction in the U.S., and abroad, during the late 1960s. After doing a bit of research, for example, I found out this film was produced for the Population Council, a non-profit organization created by John Rockefeller in 1952.

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My Miscarriage (Is Not Your Miscarriage)

By Carrie Pitzulo

Recently, Marjorie Ingall, writing for the Tablet, discusses the complicated – but sometimes very simple – feelings women have about their abortions or miscarriages. In “My Abortion, My Miscarriage, and My Right To Have My Own Feelings,” Ingall presents a sensitive, levelheaded rendering of her own spectrum of reproductive experiences. She describes the relief she felt at terminating a pregnancy in her youth, and the overwhelming sadness she felt at a later miscarriage, before having two healthy children. Ingall points out the lack of cultural acceptance of women’s wide variety of feelings about their own lives: “No matter what we feel—sadness at a miscarriage, relief at an abortion—women are told their feelings aren’t legitimate. Someone—a politician, a friend, a member of the clergy—invariably tells us to buck up if we’re devastated by the loss of a wanted pregnancy, and/or to hate ourselves if we’re not devastated to end an unwanted one.”

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Thalidomide—The Good and The Bad

By Sandra Trudgen Dawson

I was listening to the BBC world news the other day and a story caught my attention. The story was about an epidemic of birth defects in Brazil, particularly in the slums of Rio de Janeiro.[1] Pregnant women had apparently been taking Thalidomide—a drug I thought had been taken off the market decades ago. Apparently it has not.
Thalidomide was a part of my childhood. I remember when I went to Primary School and noticed a girl in my year with a different arm. Like all children, I was curious about it. Her arm was short with three fingers at the end of it. The fingers worked, and she could use her arm really well. She was also very fast at running. Nevertheless, this student was “different.” When I told my mother about her, she explained that a drug called Thalidomide had caused this. In fact, my mother explained that she herself had been offered the drug during her pregnancy with me, but fortunately had refused or I might have been born with a short arm too.

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Dear Kate Middleton

By Cheryl Lemus

Dear Kate Middleton,

Congratulations on the birth of your beautiful and healthy baby boy, George Alexander Louis! It really is a joy to wake up after you give birth and realize that you are a mother. However, it also a bit disconcerting to walk to the bathroom afterward (or waddle, like I did), and look at the mirror, and say “Holy crap I look like hell!” Yeah birth is awesome, and it sucks all at the same time because your body goes through this change afterward that no one ever tells you about, not even your mother or friends who have gone through the same experience.

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Just Add Water . . . and Sperm

By Tina M. Kibbe
As an historian of science and medicine, I am always interested in both the histories of and the latest innovations in genetic and reproductive technologies. It is unbelievable how far we've come in such a relatively short period of time. These technologies are usually met with a mixture of awe and fascination or resistance and fear—it seems as if sometimes we are witnessing a glimpse into the future, yet it is actually happening in the here and now. I recently came across an article that actually made me stop and say, “Wow, really?” It’s about research into a new reproductive technology, but before I get to it, I want to do a brief background of revolutionary reproductive and genetic technologies that have sparked some intense ethical and moral debates. Specifically, three groundbreaking developments which have women/gender at their very core. Three developments that, as they were occurring, perhaps seemed like they were only futuristic, fantastic things that could never really happen . . . until they did.

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A Tale of Two Pregnancies

By Cheryl Lemus
So I don’t know if you all aware but Kim Kardashian and Duchess Kate Middleton are pregnant. Yes I know, surprising news since both pregnancies have received very little coverage in the media. I mean you would not even know they were pregnant. Sarcasm aside, when both women announced/confirmed their pregnancies in December, I was not surprised to see the media circus that unfolded around the both of them. NBC’s Today practically wet itself when Kate confirmed her pregnancy, while Kim’s news went viral when Kanye West announced she was expecting their child during a concert. Since then, the media has been more than happy to closely monitor both women’s pregnancies (even more than their obstetricians), but in the past few weeks, more attention has been placed on Kim and Kate’s pregnant bodies, revealing a tale of two pregnancies, one the ideal (Kate) and one the reality (Kim). And the attention, praise, comparisons, conniption fits, and criticisms reflect that these two norms are clashing for the first time.

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Downton Abbey, Maternal Death and the Crisis of Childbirth in Britain

By Sandra Trudgen Dawson
Those of us who watch Downton Abbey regularly should not have been surprised that Sybil died. After all, series one began with the death of the Crawley heir on the Titanic as well as the untimely death of the Turkish gentleman during sex with Lady Mary; series two saw the death of the footman from war wounds and the sudden death of Lady Lavinia from the 1919 influenza epidemic as well as references to the deaths of thousands more during WWI.
So why was Sybil’s death so shocking? Was it because Sybil’s character was one of the most likeable in the series? Or was it that we don’t associate childbirth with maternal death anymore? Or was it the class-ridden patriarchal arguing amongst three men—middle-class Dr. Clarkson, knighted Sir Philip and hereditary Earl, Sir Robert—as Sybil exhibited what today are considered clear signs of pre-Eclampsia. The headache, swollen legs, proteinuria, epigastric pain and confusion were clinical signs that worried Dr. Clarkson and the other female members of the family, but not, apparently, Sir Philip. As the three men argued over whether or not the signs and symptoms were normal or pathological, the rest of the family, including Sybil’s mother and husband, stood helplessly by.

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