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The Washington Post has recently informed me that according to the government, I should be thinking of myself as pre-pregnant. And I shouldn't stop until 2035.

New federal guidelines ask all females capable of conceiving a baby to treat themselves -- and to be treated by the health care system -- as pre-pregnant, regardless of whether they plan to get pregnant anytime soon. Among other things, this means all women between first menstrual period and menopause should take folic acid supplements, refrain from smoking, maintain a healthy weight and keep chronic conditions such as asthma and diabetes under control. ...[I]t's important that women follow this advice throughout their reproductive lives, because about half of pregnancies are unplanned and so much damage can be done to a fetus between conception and the time the pregnancy is confirmed.

I can barely express how disturbed I am.

I am not a vessel.

And no one has any business telling me how to regard myself. Yes, it is better to be healthy than unhealthy (and it's clear that incredible numbers of Americans are unhealthy), and I am always chuffed whenever people are reminded that McDonald's diets and walking only between the desk and the bathroom will adversely affect their health. I could even accept someone going so far as to make the value judgment that we "should" exercise more often and smoke and drink less. In my view as well, it would be best if pregnant women avoided any sort of harm to their foetuses or to themselves.

But when someone tells me how to think of myself, that is out of line.

The implication is that women should define themselves by pregnancy. (Ha! The Handmaid's Tale, anyone?)

It leaves me asking how long we will spend slipping down the slope between "should" and "must", and my teensy little inner libertarian quakes.

And it leaves me asking where the federal guideline is that instructs men to regard themselves as in a persistent state of "pre-fatherhood". Where is the demand that all pre-fathers between the ages of 13 and 93 should never use cell phones, regardless of whether they plan to be fathers anytime soon? What about even the simple order to take Vitamin C/zinc supplements and stop smoking?

Double standards? Denigration of individuality in reproductive issues? -- This government? Pfft.


OrSkolnik said...

Wow. My jaw is on the floor right now; this is ridiculous. I guess I should drop out of school and get a steady job to fulfill my pre-fatherly responsibilities of supporting my pre-family.

Sam Knoll said...

Sorry to be so late with this comment, but I'm sort of new to the blogging thing (but not new to the web thing).

I agree 100% with the original post ... and especially with Pam's sentiments. I have been a supporter of the current government administration, and recently I'm having some serious doubts about that support.

I caution, however, against automatically thinking that the policy statements reported in the Washington Post, are those of the "current administration" (TCA). They may be more a product of the Beltway Bureaucracy than the Bush Admin.

In any event, the article as reported in the Post is Hogwash, and I feel just as incensed as Pam who wrote the post.

Sam Knoll
Founder & CEO

Greg from NV said...

The government asking women to engage in good health practices? Why the utter audacity of it all! How DARE they!!!