Skip to content

Posts from the ‘pregnancy’ Category

“Blossoms of Hope”: Our Cultural History of Pregnancy and Infant Loss and Grief

By Ginny Engholm

In a recent Adventures in the Archives post, Adam Turner recounts a moving story of grief and loss he found in Today’s Health of a woman whose daughter was born three months premature due to a hemolytic disease in the 1950’s. In the comments section after the post, blogger Historiann remarks, "I find it fascinating that she writes of her RH baby as being born ‘just three months too soon,’ and very much as a daughter rather than as a fetus or a patient. Even now, a 3-months preemie is still an extremely premature child with no guarantees–it’s interesting to know that some woman in 1950 thought about her daughter in the ways that seem familiar to [how] those of us in the post-Roe, post-ultrasound era think about pregnancy & children." The commentator's surprise at this mother’s conception of her fetus as a “daughter,” I think, mirrors a current trend in the feminist scholarship of pregnancy and childbirth that seems to divide cultural ideas around pregnancy, fetuses, and infants into pre- and post-Roe. Furthermore, advances in prenatal technology, particularly the development and increasing use of ultrasound technology, encourage us to imagine that women today have different, and in some ways, more personal relationships with their children still in the womb. And no doubt we do.

Read more

If the IUD is an Abortifacient, then so is Chemotherapy and Lunch Meat

By Lara Freidenfelds

When I criticized Hobby Lobby for its attempts to evade the Obamacare contraceptive mandate, a friend of mine thoughtfully replied, “Lara, I don't think the Hobby Lobby case has anything to do with the daily birth control pill -- it is only dealing with not wanting to cover drugs and medical devices that actually "end" a pregnancy after an egg has been fertilized.” She wasn’t so ready to vilify Hobby Lobby for standing on its anti-abortion principles, a position which a substantial minority of Americans support. Like my friend, I am willing to grant that Hobby Lobby may earnestly be trying to avoid funding what it perceives to be “abortions.” But what this discussion shows is that Hobby Lobby, and many people on both sides of the abortion debates, have been misled about how pregnancy works. And this has profound implications for how we think about contraceptives such as the IUD and the morning-after pill.

Read more

Is Contraception “Health Care”? The Hobby Lobby Case

by Lara Freidenfelds

As we wait for the Supreme Court to render a decision on the Hobby Lobby contraception coverage case, I have been pondering the historical relationship between contraception and health care. Is it obvious that contraception should be considered part of “health care?” And would it be possible to decide that it isn’t, but still make it affordable and available? This case seems, to me, to rest largely on whether we think contraception counts as health care. The justices are wary of an outcome that would allow employers to decline to pay for blood transfusions or routine vaccinations, even if an employer might genuinely have religious reservations about those procedures. Those are clearly health care. Contraception, though, seems different. It is prescribed for healthy people, and it does not cure or prevent disease (at least not directly).

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.”

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,827 other followers