I’m talking about the recent CDC report about pre-conception health care — the one that the Washington Post reported on, the one that supposedly advises treating all women of child-bearing age as “pre-pregnant.” (BTW, that’s the Post’s phrase — the CDC doesn’t use it at all).
I read the actual report — not the Washington Post story about the report, not the opinion pieces about the Post story about the report, but the actual CDC report itself. And to me, it seems pretty reasonable. Am I missing something?
Hereâs my layperson’s summary of what the report actually says:
1) Most women by far (85%) in the U.S. give birth by the time theyâre 44.
2) Many problems in pregancy and childbirth (birth defects, complications, premature delivery, etc.) are preventable.
3) Therefore, the health care system should be trying to, you know, help prevent them.
4) Ways to help prevent these problems include planning your pregnancies if you’re going to have them, and taking care of your health in an assortment of ways before you get pregnant.
5) This is harder for poor women, and this disparity should be recognized and addressed.
Here, I think, is the key sentence:
“Preconception care offers health services that allow women to maintain optimal health for themselves, choose the number and spacing of their pregnancies and, when desired, prepare for a healthy baby.”
Please note the “When desired.”
As far as I can tell, they’re not saying “All women are baby factories and we have to treat them as such.” Theyâre saying “Most women of childbearing age will eventually bear children — so we should help make this a conscious, planned choice with a good outcome.”
The one part of the report that I think is even remotely problematic is the recommendation that all women — and men, for that matter — of child-producing age be given “pre-conception health care,” regardless of whether they currently plan to have children. But given that their idea of “pre-conception health care” centers on planning ahead of time when — AND WHETHER — you’re going to have kids… well, I don’t see the bad.
The CDC is saying — it seems to me — that since (a) most women of childbearing age do wind up bearing children, and (b) many pregnancies are currently unplanned, therefore primary care providers and gynecologists (who are the medical professionals most people see most of the time) should initiate discussions about the patient’s plans — if any — for having kids, and if they want kids, help them do it in a conscious, healthy way.
Again I ask: Why is this bad?
A final key sentence: “Each woman, man, and couple should be encouraged to have a reproductive life plan.”
You know — planned parenthood.
And once again I ask: Why is this bad?
So am I missing something? I’ll admit that I didn’t painstakingly read every sentence of this report — there’s a lot of medical and public-health jargon that I didn’t understand and therefore skimmed. If anyone out there works in public health/reproductive health/related fields, or is familiar with them, or even just knows how to read a CDC report, please speak up:
Is the hysteria over this report justified — or do we all need to just chill the fuck out?
P.S. Apropos of nothing: When I was doing an image search on Google for images of pregnant women (before settling on The Ultimate Guide to Pregnancy for Lesbians), fully one out of four images on the first search page were of Britney Spears pregnant. I don’t know what that says about us as a society, but it can’t be good.