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July 3, 2008

Actual Pregnancy News

I think we've all heard enough lately about the so-called "pregnancy pact" and Jamie Lynn Spears and the minute by minute countdown to Angelina Jolie's due date, so we thought we'd pull together some of the recent newsworthy stories about pregnancy and motherhood that the media is far too busy for.

~Our Bodies Our Blog talks about President Bush's decision to withhold funds once again from the United Nations Population Fund, and why the administration's excuse about keeping the funds away from questionable programs in China is bullshit. This is another case where the "pro-life" crowd is so caught up with taking a stand against abortion that they end up causing harm to women and children all over the world by denying money to a program "which conducts global work on issues such as reducing obstetric fistula, increasing access to contraception and family planning, HIV prevention, and improving obstetric care".

The Our Bodies Our Blog piece also links to a New York Times commentary by Nicholas D. Kristof that makes some great points about how backwards and senseless this decision is:

The reason given for withholding the U.S. funds is that the Population Fund (universally called UNFPA, after its old acronym) supports forced abortions in China. Even if that were true, it would be ridiculous to withhold funds for UNFPA activities against maternal mortality in Africa because of its work in China. But in any case, UNFPA has been a major force against compulsion of any kind in China, as the U.S. blue-ribbon committee that investigated the charges found. In the areas in China where UNFPA set up a model program, there is no compulsion and the abortion rate is lower than in the U.S.

Most important, UNFPA convinced China in 1992 to switch to a more effective but more expensive IUD, averting half a million abortions each year, 5 million abortions a decade. Does any anti-abortion group have that good a record?

In this case, there is something you can do - check out the 34 Million Friends campaign, which was started by two women who got good and pissed when Bush denied these funds the first time and decided "fuck it, we'll raise the money ourselves". (Okay, so they might not have used that exact language.) They have raised almost four million dollars so far.


~A group of 36 Democratic Congresswomen led by Lois Capps of California have sent a letter to President Bush asking him to address the global maternal mortality epidemic at the upcoming G-8 Summit. (Our Congresswoman was one of them, so we're going to contact her and thank her. Check the list and see if you can do the same.)
The letter asks Bush to work to make "pregnancy and childbirth safe for women no matter where they happen to live." It also highlights the widely disparate maternal mortality rates worldwide. According to the letter, one in 7300 births in industrialized nations and one in 26 births in Sub-Saharan Africa result in maternal death.

The letter reminds Bush that "the G8 meeting next month will be a prime opportunity to remind the other members of the G8 of this pressing issue and to rededicate all members of the group to working towards this critical goal". For their part, the Congresswomen pledge to "stand ready to offer the assistance and support from the legislative branch in order to carry out this effort."
One in 26 births in Sub-Saharan Africa result in maternal death. Good thing we keep denying that UNFPA funding, because it's not like that money could be used to save women's lives or anything.


~Missouri's Supreme Court has upheld a law allowing legal midwifery. A lower court had invalidated the 2007 statute on midwifery after a lawsuit by the Missouri State Medical Association, The Missouri Association of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons, Missouri Academy of Family Physicians, and the St. Louis Metropolitan Medical Society. The Supreme Court's ruling was in response to an appeal filed by the State of Missouri, Friends of Missouri Midwives, the Missouri Midwives Association, and others.
Organizations supporting midwifery in Missouri issued a press release in response to the ruling, stating that: "Today's Missouri Supreme Court decision is a tremendous victory for Missouri families, who have been working for 25 years to gain legal access to professional midwives. The ruling increases access to maternity care in the state and allows women and families more birth options and affirms their ability to exercise their rights to choose how their babies are born."

~In related news, the American Medical Association has joined the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in passing a resolution against homebirth.

RESOLVED, That our American Medical Association support the recent American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) statement that “the safest setting for labor, delivery, and the immediate post-partum period is in the hospital, or a birthing center within a hospital complex, that meets standards jointly outlined by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and ACOG, or in a freestanding birthing center that meets the standards of the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care, The Joint Commission, or the American Association of Birth Centers” 3 (New HOD Policy); and be it further

RESOLVED, That our AMA develop model legislation in support of the concept that the safest setting for labor, delivery, and the immediate post-partum period is in the hospital, or a birthing center within a hospital complex, that meets standards jointly outlined by the AAP and ACOG, or in a freestanding birthing center that meets the standards of the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care, The Joint Commission, or the American Association of Birth Centers.”
Don't miss the part about "model legislation", which means exploring the idea of making homebirths illegal. Charming. As Miriam said over at feministing, "With the soaring costs of maternity care, the further increasing c-section rate and our not-so-great maternal mortality rate, it's no surprise that birth activists and mothers are up in arms about this." Check out the full text of the AMA resolution, and then head over to The Big Push for Midwives for some info on the other side of the debate.


~In even more related news (it's all related, isn't it?), the first week of July happens to be National Unassisted Homebirth Week. Information on the practice of unassisted homebirth can be found at UnassistedHomebirth.com and also on the Unassisted Childbirth Livejournal community. We don't entirely agree with all of the viewpoints expressed on these sites and we're not quite sure how we feel about the concept of unassisted homebirth, but we think it's definitely worthwhile to examine the philosophy behind it and see what the women who support it have to say, especially in light of the fact that homebirth in general seems to have an uncertain future in some places right now, which is something that us pro-choicers definitely need to be talking about.



So...did Angelina have those babies yet?

1 comment:

Tom said...

One thing I wish the news and science paid more attention to is the number of miscarriages. A staggering amount of pregnancies end prematurely. It's a hellish experience to go through and in most cases doctors cannot provide a concrete answer as to why the baby/fetus was unable to be brought to full term.