Life, Love, and Dirty Diapers

My Thoughts on the Contraception Controversy

So I know I’m in the middle of a series, but I have a few things to post before I go back to my series (I’ve been working on these, which is why I haven’t been posting as much). Because I need to make some things clear.

Mainly because I’m sick of people saying they speak for the women of America. I am a woman of America and I disagree with what they are saying when they say they speak for me, but that’s okay apparently, to make broad blanket statements about speaking for the women of America. They don’t speak for me, so I’m going to speak for me.

I’m not going to talk about the compromise right now, because it’s not really a compromise. Use your brains people – if insurance companies have to pay for it but not the employers, then how do you think the insurance companies are going to pay for it? They’re going to increase premiums for the employers. You can’t just pretend that there isn’t going to be a hidden cost and that we aren’t all going to end up paying for it.

And I’m not even going to talk about how I don’t agree with most things that are considered contraception, like the pill and the IUD.

I guess my problem is the definition of preventative care and defining contraception as preventative care. Because what does it prevent? Pregnancy – and pregnancy is not a disease. It’s a natural, normal part of life. In the great majority of cases, it is not life threatening and even when it is, there are really awesome OB/GYN’s to help you through it. Preventative care should prevent a disease and pregnancy is simply just not a disease. I’m a pregnant woman and I do not have a disease. I do realize that there is a very small percentage of women who are on birth control pills for health conditions that are not fault of their own. BUT, I do think that if we were to stop thinking that a birth control pill is an answer for these health problems, that we might be able to find real answers to them (for example, endometriosis, which is often managed with the birth control pill – there is currently no cure for this condition). Because to be honest, a birth control pill doesn’t really cure these diseases, it just manages the symptoms, at least from my understanding.  It is easy to prescribe a birth control pill and it’s easy to take a birth control pill, but it’s harder to search for a cure.

Examples of real preventative care include screening for diabetes, immunizations, screening for cancers, etc.

Now I want to talk about something that is real preventative care – that is prenatal care. And maybe I know all this because I’m currently pregnant, but it’s something that needs to be talked about.

Here are the benefits of prenatal care and why I consider it preventative. Proper prenatal care reduces maternal deaths, miscarriages, birth defects, low birth rates (3 times more likely without prenatal care), delivery complications (like preeclampsia and placenta previa), infant deaths (of which is near and dear to my heart since Milwaukee has high infant mortality rates – this is 5 times more likely without prenatal care), and premature birth.

Now the new law does cover some services associated with pregnancy. These include:

  • Anemia screening
  • Infection screening  (for certain infections)
  • Breastfeeding related support and in some cases, supplies
  • Folic acid supplements
  • Gestational diabetes screening
  • Rh incompatibility
  • Tobacco counseling

Now, while this seems like a lot, there is so much that is being left out. Regular visits are important, early ultrasounds to rule out ectopic pregnancy (which is life-threatening), anatomy scan (which is not necessary, but helps to discover birth defects, some of which we can now treat in utero and identify conditions like placenta previa which needs to be treated), iron supplements – I could go on.

I’m not looking for a handout, don’t mistake that. Yes, it can get expensive, but I love my child and so we find a way to make it work one way or another. I’m just saying, wouldn’t it make more sense, instead of fighting over contraception, which doesn’t prevent anything, we work on covering more services for pregnant women which has huge preventative effects. Remember how I mentioned one of the downsides to not receiving proper prenatal care was low birth weight? Well, besides the immediate risk to the infant which are very serious, I want to copy and paste something from the March of Dimes website about potential long term risks.

Some studies suggest that individuals who were born with low birthweight may be at increased risk for certain chronic conditions in adulthood. These conditions include high blood pressure, type 2 (adult-onset) diabetes and heart disease. When these conditions occur together, they are called metabolic syndrome. One study found that men who weighed less than 6 1/2 pounds at birth were 10 times more likely to have metabolic syndrome than the men who weighed more than 9 1/2 pounds at birth (10, 11).

It is not yet known how low birthweight contributes to these adult conditions. However, it is possible that growth restriction before birth may cause lasting changes in certain insulin-sensitive organs like the liver, skeletal muscles and pancreas. Before birth, these changes may help the malnourished fetus use all available nutrients. However, after birth these changes may contribute to health problems.

So why are we focusing on contraception which will not make us a healthier society as a whole, when we could focus on making sure every pregnant woman gets proper prenatal care and make society healthier overall? That’s true preventative care.

Just my two cents, because no, those people tv don’t speak for me. I speak for me.

Here are my sources by the way:

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The Women in Time’s Most Influential List 2011: Maria Bashir

Again, Maria Bashir is not a name I recognize immediately, but let’s take a look before I make a decision on whether I think she is influential or not.

  • She is a prosecutor in Afghanistan, focuses especially on cases of violence against women.
  • She couldn’t work under the Taliban so she took to schooling girls in her house. Illegally.
  • She has been a hard voice of dissent to the Afghan government’s practices, especially those that restrict women.
  • She has been honor with the International Women of Courage Award by the US government.
  • She has faced assassination attempts.

I definitely think she is influential for a bunch of reasons. First of all, she is giving other women in Afghanistan someone to look up to. Women in Afghanistan need many things to be empowered, but one part of the picture is having positive female role models, so that women and girls have something to aspire to. Maria is providing that. Second, she illegally taught girls during the rain of the Taliban. This makes her influential because these girls will go on to have better lives because they are educated. Those girls have been directly influenced. Third, she is helping to ensure that laws are enforced. This will directly help Afghanistan to become a better place for women and children. She has been highly influential in this area. And not that I would say this is a true way to measure influence, but she has faced multiple assassination attempts and has guards who protect her. Generally, only people who have enough power to change things face these kind of circumstances. If there weren’t people who thought she was making a difference in Afghanistan, then they wouldn’t try to kill her. So I think she is definitely influential. What are your thoughts? Do you think Maria Bashir is influential or do you disagree? Let me know your thoughts in the comments! 

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The Women in Time’s Most Influential List 2011: Esther Duflo

Today is another name I don’t recognize, but I think in this series I actually find those the most fun because I get to learn about new people. So let’s dive in and take a look at Esther Duflo.

  • She’s an economist.
  • She teaches at MIT (Professor of Poverty Alleviation and Development Economics).
  • Her research looks at developing countries.
  • She has worked hard to advance using field experiments.
  • She is the director (and one of the founders) of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, which seeks to reduce poverty by having science to help inform policy.
  • She often focuses on the very specific and studies it in randomized trial experiments. Examples include “If schoolkids could get their uniforms for free, would attendance go up?” and “What’s an effective way to reward mothers for immunizing their babies?”
  • Speculation has it that she will win a Nobel Prize in the future.
  • She’s met with several big shots: Bill Gates, the head of Facebook, and the head of Amazon for example.

I think she is definitely influential. She is slowly changing the way we address poverty. It may not be widespread yet, but I think the work she is doing now will be in the future. This is really revolutionary work if we want to end poverty (which most people would say we do) because her work focuses on trying to find out what actually works. If we want to end poverty, her work is going to be crucial. Her influence will come in the future, as she is really making this a popular idea. It seems like such common sense – let’s test what actually makes a difference, but yet before her, it wasn’t really happening. I think that if we ever want to end poverty we need to pay attention to the work she is doing and we need to pay attention to how she is doing it. This is world changing stuff, mark my words. And it will have all started with Esther Duflo.

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The Women in Time’s Most Influential List 2011: Hillary Clinton

So Hillary Clinton – this is another person I am pretty sure most people have heard of, but let’s look into her background anyways and examine my thoughts on whether or not she’s influential.

  • She is the current Secretary of State.
  • She’s served in a variety of political positions, from First Lady to Senator and so on.
  • She was liked by a majority of Americans for the majority of her time in politics – at least according to poll data.
  • In 2011 as Secretary of State she
    • was the face of the US response to the Arab Spring.
    • was majorly responsible for the decision not to release photos of Osama Bin Laden’s dead body.
    • visited Burma/Myanmar (which was a major move as it had been more than 50 years since a US Secretary of State had visited the country).
    •  continued to work on her goal of empowering women worldwide.
  • She recently announced she is leaving politics.

Is she influential? I may not agree with her on every issue, but I definitely think she has been very influential in her political career. She’s held several positions that are just full of influence – First Lady, Senator of New York, Secretary of State. I think in 2011 because she was Secretary of State she was especially influential since the Secretary of State is often our spokesperson to the world and because she was really the face of the response to Arab Spring – a major event that I am positive 2011 will be remember for in years to come. However, all that being said, I don’t think she will continue to be influential after she leaves politics. Many politicians’ influence trickles away pretty quickly after they leave politics. So what do you think? Is Hillary Clinton influential? Leave your thoughts in the comments! 

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The Women in Time’s Most Influential List: Kate Middleton

Sorry that I disappeared for a bit guys. But I’m back – to bring you more commentary and such 🙂 Today’s person is Kate Middleton. Technically she’s on the list with her husband, Prince William, but I’m only going to look at her. I have definitely heard of her (maybe a better question is who hasn’t?) but let’s still see if we can find out anything new and interesting about her.

  • Her formal title is “Her Royal Highness Princess William, Duchess of Cambridge, Countess of Strathearn, Baroness Carrickfergus”
  • She would become queen if her husband becomes king.
  • Because of her, the law of succession was changed ensuring that daughters will have the same rights to the throne as sons.
  • She came from a common background, not royalty.
  • She supports the Art Room, the National Portrait Gallery, East Anglia’s Children’s Hospice, Action on Addiction, and the local Scout Association in her official capacity.
  • In silly information about her, she was named ‘Hat Person of the Year’ by The Headwear Association. It’s not completely silly, though, because apparently her wearing of hats boosted the industry of people who make hats in the U.S.

Is she influential? I definitely think so. She has a huge potential to be the next queen, from which position she will have lots of influence. She also had the ability to influence a whole industry’s performance. She also got the laws changed for the better for women, in ensuring that not just girls of hers but girls in the future will be able to aspire to be the queen. And she didn’t even lobby for those, it was just how the public fell in love with her that caused the law-making body to make that change. If that isn’t influence, I don’t know what is. She is also an influence in fashion – just google Kate Middleton style or Kate Middleton fashion and you’ll find probably a million blogs with ways to copy her style. So, what do you think? Do you think Kate Middleton is influential? Leave your thoughts in the comments! 

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The Women in Time’s Most Influential List 2011: Lisa Jackson

This post has made me realize how many people out there are named Lisa Jackson, as I googled her to learn more about her. But there’s only one of the specific Lisa Jackson I’m talking about. Let’s dive in.

  • Is trained to be a chemical engineer
  • Current head administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • Is focusing on 7 key areas: “taking action on climate change; improving air quality; cleaning up our communities; protecting America’s waters; assuring the safety of chemicals; expanding the conversation on environmentalism and working for environmental justice; and building stronger state”
  • Current accomplishments: She “has outlined principles to modernize our nation’s 30-year old chemical management laws, called for unprecedented innovation in drinking water protection efforts and announced tough standards to clean the air we breathe.”
  • In the past year, has developed Mercury and Air Toxics Standards
  • Has promised to focus on groups of people who are most vulnerable to harm from environmental contaminants

Is she influential? I think so. As head of the EPA, she has a big role in shaping the environmental future of the United States in terms of regulations and things like that. And the environment has a much bigger effect on you than most people realize. I took a Literature and Environment class in my last semester of college and I thought I knew how the environment affected you and your health, but I learned there is so much more. So as someone who has the power to decide standards, she is super influential, for better or for worse.

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The Women in Time’s Most Influential List 2011: Michele Bachmann

I think by now Michele Bachmann is a pretty household name. A representative from Minnesota that I had hardly heard of before has been thrust into the national spotlight with a run for president.

  • A state representative from Minnesota
  • She was attempting to gain the Republican presidential nomination for the upcoming race until she dropped out this morning (that’s breaking news)

Is she influential? Hard to say. I think government leaders to some extent are more or less influential. It’s hard because I would have answered this differently weeks ago, when she was more a front runner in the presidential race because as a potential president, of course she would be highly influential. But the numbers now are not playing out like she will be successful, which means she will probably disappear and we may well never hear much about her again. (Do you hear much about the people who didn’t do well in the Republican primary in 2008? Not really – not unless they ran again or made some significant win in the primaries.) So maybe it’s a wait and see. Iowa, after all, doesn’t have to doom you – but it can often doom you. And certainly, I’m sure she didn’t want only a 5 percent vote and to come in last. At any rate, it looks like Iowa won’t really matter at all for her, as she announced this morning that she is dropping out. At this rate, since she dropped out, I think she will continue to be less and less influential.

Note: I have often been asked on what I feel about women being president. My answer? I don’t think you should support anyone woman for president just because she is a woman. Additionally, I am almost, at this point in my life, harder on women candidates than male candidates. Why? Sort of for the same reason that George Washington had to be the right first president. I think the first woman president will set a precedent for future woman presidents, just like George Washington set the president for the rest of presidents. If he had acted too much like a king, then I doubt our democracy would have been successful. In the same way, my fear is that the first woman president elected, if unsuccessful, would make it harder for future women to be elected – so I always want to make sure when I look at a woman running for president that I ask myself “If she were to be the first woman president, would it be harder for women to be elected after her?” The first one of anything is important. So that’s my stance on women presidents.

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The Women in Time’s Most Influential List 2011: Dilma Rousseff

I have to admit Dilma Rousseff is another name I wasn’t super familiar with. I mean, okay, I did study politics, but ask me if I know the leader of every country in the world and the answer would be no. But I doubt you would either and if you can, gold star to you. Anyways, let’s find out about her.

  • Current president of Brazil (first woman to hold that position)
  • She’s had her hand in ousting several corrupt leaders from the Brazilian government.

Is she influential? Definitely! I think the leader of the country is always influential, but there are certain leaders that are even more influential and I think she is one of them. There are a lot of people in politics who speculate that Brazil is going to be one of the next world powers (it’s currently the 7th largest economy in the world) and I don’t doubt it – Latin America is just poised to really come onto the political scene in their own way. So I think like whether or not Brazil becomes a super power or gets put on the path to be a super power will be related to their leaders, which means it is related to her. Also, she does have a sketchy background (she was involved in an armed struggle for Marxism earlier in her life) but she shows that she hasn’t let that define her or keep her out of the political arena and also showing that people can change – as she now supports capitalism, not Marxism.

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The Women in Time’s Most Influential List 2011: Michelle Obama

Michelle Obama. A pretty well known, household name right now I would say. Nevertheless, let’s take a look.

  • She is the current First Lady.
  • While she is involved in many causes, her best known one (in my opinion) has to do with eating healthy and ending childhood obesity (Let’s Move which “will give parents the support they need, provide healthier food in schools, help our kids to be more physically active, and make healthy, affordable food available in every part of our country.” – From the White House, link in the sources).
  • She also recently started an initiative for military families – big kudos there!

I have to say if I were First Lady, I don’t think all of the issues she worked on would be the same issues I would work on, but every First Lady sort of has their cause. We’re different people – and that’s okay. But nevertheless, her work has seen real results and I think that makes her influential because she’s not just saying “This is what we should do.” And then people ignore her. No – people have listened to her and made changes. Look at some of what Let’s Move has accomplished (taken from their website, link below):

  • Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act
  • “Three of the largest food service providers have committed to improving the food they provide to schools.”
  • Working on putting more than 5,000 salad bars in schools
  • Chefs Move to Schools
  • Working to ensure more playgrounds and Safe Routes to School
  • Let’s Move Cities and Towns

And that’s just part of it – so you can definitely see that this initiative she is leading is being highly influential in this country in her own way.

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The Women in Time’s Most Influential List 2011: Gabrielle Giffords

I remember when Gabrielle Giffords was the name across the country. Let’s take a look at why.

  • Arizona Democrat member of the House of Representatives
  • She was shot in the head by a constituent in January of 2011 but survived.

I think she was influential – well, not her precisely, but what happened to her. Before she was shot, not many people knew her name. But after her shooting, she really united America in a unique way. It didn’t matter that she was a Democrat from Arizona – she was one of our own, one of our representatives that had been shot. And that had a uniting factor about it for the country for a little while. Especially since she survived – her story of recovery pushed the nation together, everyone was pulling for her.

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P.S. Not related to her influence, but she was the youngest woman that has ever been elected to serve in the senate in Arizona. Which I think is pretty cool.

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