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: 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.

Sources:

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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.

Sources:

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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.

Sources:

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