Literally everyone benefits from quality maternity and pediatric care.

Aside from the arguments in favor of universal health care in general, there is an important reason why coverage of prenatal, maternity, newborn, and pediatric care should be mandatory and comprehensive.

It’s not just that we were all gestated and born at one point. That’s valid, but it’s bigger than that.

A society depends on the production of new human beings. That much is surely beyond dispute? Additionally, older people depend on the labor of younger people. There are people being gestated and born right now, whose labor will make our quality of life possible later.

This idea of “I’m an older man, so I don’t need maternity care”? Bullshit. You need other people to have maternity and pediatric care. The older you get, the more your life depends on healthy, hard-working young people. Who picks up your garbage? Who drives the bus you take to your appointments? Who tends the crops you eat? Who drives the ambulance when you have a medical emergency? When you go out to eat, who prepares your meal, and who brings it to the table? When you’re at the hospital, who treats you? Who changes your IV? When you reach the stage of life where you’re frail and feeble and can’t take care of yourself anymore, who keeps you alive and comfortable? (Last time I visited my grandmother at the nursing home, the answer was: younger women from west Africa and the Caribbean. We’re benefitting from immigrant labor as well pregnant women having healthcare.) 

Prenatal and maternity care ensure that children are born alive and have healthy mothers to raise them. Newborn and pediatric care ensure that those children reach adulthood in optimal health. We need a new generation of functioning adults to ensure that older people have a decent quality of life and don’t die prematurely of preventable causes. For that, we need medical care for pregnant and birthing people, for new babies, and young children, regardless of their income bracket. That heavily pregnant young woman using WIC to pay for her groceries? Some day, her child will keep you alive.

The lives of older men depend on the availability of maternity care.

How does anyone think this is a good idea?

There’s this shit on Captain Awkward:

I have a 40-year-old friend who’s very open about his frustrations with internet dating in our geeky friend circle, and recently he went on a date with a 32-year-old woman who, during their date, said that she is looking to have a couple of kids in the future. She didn’t want them straight away, but she’s looking for a relationship that would ideally end up there.

One of the cool things about online dating is that you can state in your profile that you definitely do or do not want children, and you can see how other users answer the same question. If this woman didn’t put that info in her profile, then he’s fortunate she put it out in the open on their first date.

He was appalled by this, and says he feels a) like he was being assessed for fatherhood, and b) that it was unfair that because he doesn’t want to have kids ever, (and I’m sure for other reasons,) she wouldn’t have another date with him – he thinks they’re compatible in other areas, so could have a lot of fun.

Yeah. Um. “Compatible in other areas” doesn’t really add up when one of you wants children and the other one doesn’t.

Most of our friend-group seem to be commiserating with him, but I think he’s out of order. He’s saying that there’s time for her to have a fling with him,


It keeps getting better, folks.

I seem to be in an extreme minority – as a gay woman who’s 40, apparently I don’t understand these things. […] But he’s being given sympathetic suggestions like he should have said he wasn’t sure about kids, and string her along for a bit, or do that AND try to persuade her she doesn’t want kids after all, which is despicable to me, or that this woman was some kind of crazy person who was only after his sperm and he had a lucky escape.


Do you have any suggestions, or resources, to help geeky guys understand that for some (not all) women in their ‘30s, dating can be more serious than for the 40-year-old guys? I’m obviously not getting through – and given he only wants to date women in their early 30s (if a woman’s still single over 40, she’s got too much baggage, or something something? I KNOW! Why AM I friends with him?) this is unlikely to be the only time this will happen.

See what this dude’s doing here? See what his friends are encouraging him to do?

Guys, don’t do that.

Compared to a man of any age who definitely does not want children, ever, for a woman over 30, who definitely does want children, all other emotional factors being equal, dating is inherently a more serious endeavor. Why is this?

Do I really have to explain why? You know our fertility has a hard limit, right? You know there comes a time at which we can no longer conceive, at all, yes? And well before then, there comes a less certain time at which getting pregnant becomes very difficult and carrying to term gets especially dangerous? And you may have noticed there’s a lot of cultural/medical pressure on women to get our baby-having done before a certain age? Because if you haven’t noticed that pressure, trust me: it’s there. All women who want or might want kids, and have made it past 30 without having any, have noticed that pressure. Advanced maternal age becomes an issue starting at 35. If we finally start trying to conceive at 40, it’ll be really difficult-to-impossible, and that difficulty is all our fault for waiting too long. That’s the message behind the bulk of media attention to the prevalence of infertility: it’s OUR fault if we wait too long.

With that in mind, guys, lying your way into a “fling” with a 30something woman who wants to make babies is a really shitty thing to do.

You do not lie about what you want and string her along. You do not try to persuade her she doesn’t want kids after all. You definitely do not complain about sperm-jacking (which is hardly even a real thing), you do not entertain any suggestions that she might be trying to sperm-jack, if you’re trying to get her to ignore or postpone her plans for motherhood. What the woman is doing in this case is basically the very opposite of sperm-jacking, to the extent that it happens at all.

Think about this: if you’re a dude who thinks sperm-jacking is a thing that might happen to you doesn’t want to be a father, and you’re afraid some woman might disregard your choice in the matter, then…you want to keep your pants firmly on around any woman with a stated interest in procreation. Don’t complain that she won’t go for a second date.

I am telling you all this from the perspective of having been that 30something woman who wants babies and is trying to find a family-making partner. I’ve since changed my mind, and realized that I actually like my selfish, hedonistic existence and don’t want to fuck it up with any defenseless mini-humans, but still, I’ve been in that position of trying to find a partner of the “spouse and co-parent” level, and from that mentality, dating is very serious business. My last boyfriend might have eventually made a good co-parent—who knows, he might be on his way to becoming someone else’s co-parent now!—but our relationship simply wasn’t life-partnership material. I won’t go into detail about how I ultimately decided to break it off, but I will tell you this much: when I finally reached the point where I realized that our relationship just wasn’t serious, and he wasn’t interested in getting serious, then I found that I didn’t want him in my life even as a friend. I had just turned 33, he knew I wanted children (I did, at the time, and his dating profile said he wanted kids too), and he was happy to keep taking up my time indefinitely for a relationship that was going nowhere. Once I put that together, I didn’t feel very friendly to him, and in the months that have passed, my feelings toward my ex haven’t improved. (I didn’t quite see the heights of his disrespect for me until after I broke it off, but that’s another issue.)

It’s possible for two people who both want children to date for a while and still find that it’s not working out, and that’s fine. If they’re really making it work, it’s not necessarily going to reach the kid-having stage as quickly as either of them may have wanted, and that’s okay. The fact that most relationships don’t get that far, and those that do, generally need some time to get there, is why it is really, really unacceptable to say “she has time for a fling with me” when she’s 32 and knows she wants children. No. She has time to let a relationship develop. If she’s willing to say, in as many words during the first date, that she would like to have a couple of kids, then she does not have time for a fling.

We have bigger fish to fry than womb-controlling hypocrisy.

This story is making the rounds of the leftosphere:

Lori Stodghill was 31-years old, seven-months pregnant with twin boys and feeling sick when she arrived at St. Thomas More hospital in Cañon City on New Year’s Day 2006. She was vomiting and short of breath and she passed out as she was being wheeled into an examination room. Medical staff tried to resuscitate her but, as became clear only later, a main artery feeding her lungs was clogged and the clog led to a massive heart attack. Stodghill’s obstetrician, Dr. Pelham Staples, who also happened to be the obstetrician on call for emergencies that night, never answered a page. His patient died at the hospital less than an hour after she arrived and her twins died in her womb.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, Stodghill’s husband Jeremy, a prison guard, filed a wrongful-death lawsuit on behalf of himself and the couple’s then-two-year-old daughter Elizabeth. Staples should have made it to the hospital, his lawyers argued, or at least instructed the frantic emergency room staff to perform a caesarian-section. The procedure likely would not have saved the mother, a testifying expert said, but it may have saved the twins.

St. Thomas More is a Catholic hospital and member of Catholic Health Initiatives, which is the lead defendant in the wrongful-death suit. The framing of the story is about CHI’s defense:

But when it came to mounting a defense in the Stodghill case, Catholic Health’s lawyers effectively turned the Church directives on their head. Catholic organizations have for decades fought to change federal and state laws that fail to protect “unborn persons,” and Catholic Health’s lawyers in this case had the chance to set precedent bolstering anti-abortion legal arguments. Instead, they are arguing state law protects doctors from liability concerning unborn fetuses on grounds that those fetuses are not persons with legal rights.

That’s where all the attention is going on this story: it’s so hypocritical of CHI to claim “fetuses are not persons” when the Church’s usual position is to twist women’s health into pretzel shapes in honor of their embryos. In an abstract moral sense, this is a valid point and it’s worthy of discussion, but in a legal sense, this is hardly news. When you’re getting sued for a large amount of money, your defense has nothing to do with your own principles and everything to do with how the fact pattern relates to the law. As far as the law is concerned, CHI’s lawyers are simply doing their jobs. It is not the legal defense team’s responsibility to uphold the Catholic Church’s stance on unborn life. We could say that it’s hypocritical of CHI to let their defense team make the argument that fetuses are not persons, but this is the sort of thing that goes on in lawsuits. They do what it takes to win.

What I think is much more significant to the case, and in much more pressing need of discussion, is the fact that the hospital had to page an obstetrician and wait for him to arrive at the hospital when a pregnant woman was having a lethal health crisis. If Dr. Staples had come to the hospital quick as he could, then, sure, they might have saved Lori Stodghill and/or her twins. However, if there had been an OB and anesthesiologist already on-deck, they might have also saved Lori and/or her 7-months-gestation twin boys. If we’re going to make this case a matter of fetus-worshipping hypocrisy, we should be asking why St. Thomas More Hospital didn’t step up their game by having a surgical team available on the OB floor at all times. Surely, the cost of having those professionals on hand would be a bargain if it sent a few more healthy babies home with their parents.

Once we get started down that road, we see that St. Thomas More is far from alone in making pregnant women with emergent crises wait for a doctor to arrive from home. ACOG’s position on VBAC, for example, recommends (but does not require) that expectant parents and their providers seek hospitals with immediately available staff to perform an emergency c-section if they’re pursuing a TOLAC (Trial of Labor After Cesarean). The fact that many hospitals do not have that immediately available staff means that many post-cesarean mothers are unable to find care for vaginal births in later pregnancies. Even putting aside the question of birthing options for healthy mothers, the fact remains that many hospitals do not have surgical staff available at all times to handle obstetrical emergencies. Surely, a 7-months-pregnant woman having a heart attack qualifies as an emergency that warrants having a surgical team immediately available.

This, in my opinion, is a much more significant issue than the way CHI is handling a lawsuit. The larger issue is that our healthcare system is inconsistent about handling obstetrical emergencies. If a hospital does not have a surgical team immediately available at all hours, that hospital does not provide emergency obstetrical care. If there are no hospitals in a given area that meet ACOG’s recommendation of “surgical staff immediately available in the maternity ward at all times,” then the childbearing women of that area do not have access to emergency obstetrical care. Life-threatening emergencies happen to pregnant women at all hours of the day and night.

Advice to GOPers: Please staple your damn mouths shut.

The latest faux pas comes from Representative Phil Gingrey of Georgia, who, I am not joking, has defended Todd Akin, of all people. Here’s the thing: if you defend Todd Akin, you deserve to be kicked out of office and run out of town on a rail. There’s no ambiguity about this. There is nothing defensible about Todd Akin, and Gingrey has just marked himself as more of the same, because he seems to think that we didn’t hear Akin the first time:

and what he meant by legitimate rape was just look, someone can say I was raped: a scared-to-death 15-year-old that becomes impregnated by her boyfriend and then has to tell her parents, that’s pretty tough and might on some occasion say, ‘Hey, I was raped.’ That’s what he meant when he said legitimate rape versus non-legitimate rape. I don’t find anything so horrible about that.


We have confirmed that Kate Middleton does, indeed, have a uterus.

In all seriousness, I’m happy to hear that the William and Kate are expecting, because they are under tremendous pressure to continue the royal line, and the sooner there is a baby to show for their union, the sooner the tabloids will find something else to talk about.

Furthermore, I am not interested in witnessing the drama that will unfold if they don’t have a kid and the crown passes to Harry.

However, I am very sorry to hear that Kate is suffering hyperemesis gravidarum, because that is no laughing matter. All the news sources telling us she’s in the hospital with “acute morning sickness” are lying by omission. This is far worse than morning sickness. The Duchess of Cambridge is not having a healthy pregnancy. She has some very difficult, dangerous months ahead of her. With the quality of medical care the royals enjoy, I’m sure she’ll be okay at the end, but in the meantime, her life blows serious chunks. Pun acknowledged but no smugness intended.

Richard Mourdock joins the rest of the fish in the barrel.

This shit keeps happening. First we had Todd Akin saying a “legitimate rape” can’t establish a pregnancy, so there’s no such thing as a rape exception for abortion law. Then we had Roger Rivard telling us how “some girls rape easy,” and we can’t trust a young woman who reports a rape. Now we have Richard Mourdock explaining very earnestly how there can be no rape exception because pregnancy by rape is God’s intention. We have all these Republican Congressional candidates saying these horrifying things about rape, pregnancy and women’s reproductive freedom, and they all think that if they just explain themselves a little harder, then we’ll see they’re decent guys who don’t hate women at all.

They are mistaken. Their further explanations merely dig them deeper into that hole.

Indiana candidate Mourdock has put himself in the national spotlight with this business:

Mourdock was asked during the final minutes of a debate whether abortion should be allowed in cases of rape or incest.

He replied: “I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that’s something God intended to happen.”

In case you’re wondering if the quote is missing some context, here’s the full paragraph:
“I struggled with myself for a long time but I came to realize life is that gift from God, even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape. It is something that God intended to happen.”

And here we have a REAL case of a faked pregnancy.

Well, this is a clusterfuck that could’ve gone a lot worse:

Counties Manukau police spokeswoman Ana-Mari Gates-Bowey said Narayan had falsely claimed to be pregnant for nine months before telling her partner she was overdue and needed to be taken to hospital to be induced.

The partner dropped the 24-year-old Fijian-Indian off at 11am and she allegedly then spent several hours “moving through the birthing unit attempting to uplift a child”, Gates-Bowey said.

After allegedly uplifting the baby Gates-Bowey said Narayan called her partner saying she was ready to be picked up.

It’s understood that followed an earlier attempt where Narayan was found holding a two-day-old baby by its mother.

When confronted Narayan is believed to have told the mother the baby had been crying and she was simply comforting it.

After that incident Narayan went to another room where it’s understood a hospital staff member, assuming she was the mother, handed her the one-day-old baby and asked her to hold it.

The really bizarre part here is the relationship between Narayan and her partner, who…what? Believed she was 9 months pregnant when really she was never pregnant at all? Who brought her to the hospital supposedly for an induction, and then just left her there? What?

If this guy ever saw her with her top off within the last few months, he must have known she wasn’t really pregnant.

Now, okay, let’s say their relationship wasn’t intimate in the last several months, so she really had him thinking there was a baby growing in there. If that was the case, then I find it extremely difficult to believe that he just dropped her off at the hospital and didn’t ask any questions. Perhaps he could have offered to stay in the waiting room while she sat through hours of chemically induced labor. But…to take her to the hospital, and then just drive away and go about his life until she called and asked to bring the baby home? He must have known something was up. He had to know.

Narayan is not the only guilty party here. She may have been the ringleader (she doesn’t seem quite coherent enough for a “mastermind”) but she didn’t act alone.


Alternatives to Making Your Decision

Angi Becker Stevens shares with us some weasel-worded “informed consent” abortion restrictions being debated in Michigan:

Legislative language:

“The receipt of accurate information about abortion and its alternatives is essential to the physical and psychological well-being of a woman considering an abortion.”

Stevens’s response:

This notion of informed consent is the justification for a 24-hour waiting period, during which time a physician must, among other things, “provide the patient with a physical copy of a medically accurate depiction, illustration, or photograph and description of a fetus supplied by the department of community health at the gestational age nearest the probable gestational age of the patient’s fetus.”

The point being that of course there’s nothing wrong with an interest in informed consent in reproductive health. Informed consent is not only a good thing, it should be considered a human right. Yeah, the problem is not that these legislators want all women to get accurate information about what abortion entails before they have the procedure. The problem is that they’re not really interested in accurate information about the risks of abortion so much as in manipulating women who are making a decision they don’t like.

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Sharpening my teeth on DELICIOUS anti-choice nonsense!

Because I need an excuse to get pissed off, here are two articles at RH Reality Check for Bullshit Target Practice.

U.S. Catholic Bishops oppose preventive coverage for family planning. (Big surprise.)

An organization representing U.S. Catholic bishops is asking federal regulators not to classify contraceptives and sterilization as preventive services, thus entitling them to full coverage under the health care reform law, in final rules.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, in a letter sent Friday to the Department of Health and Human Services, said that preventing pregnancy is not preventing a disease.

From the mouths of my friends who have given birth to wanted children: “Fertility may not be a disease, but pregnancy sure as hell can be.”

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This is what “culture of life” means.

There are reports all over the web, but I will link to Lynn Paltrow on HuffPo.

The point is, the Governor of Utah has just signed a bill into law that criminalizes pregnant women who commit “knowing” acts which lead to miscarriage. It doesn’t affect legal abortion rights as they stand, but any pregnancy loss outside of a doctor-supervised termination is now suspect as a criminal act on the woman’s part.

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