You may or may not be familiar with the original story the Washington Post ran, stating that the federal government had come out with a new guideline advising women to think of themselves as pre-pregnant at all times: that means, live their entire menstrual lives as if they were pregnant, just in case, so any unplanned fetus will be healthy. This would mean no drinking, very few medications of any sort, no being around cat feces, and for heaven’s sake, no fat chicks. Of course, no mention was made of the fact that alcohol, drugs and poor nutrition can affect sperm production for years into the future, which means no man of sperm producing age (that’s what? 13 to 120?) should be doing this stuff either.
There is no new federal guideline. The Post, in a drive to score themselves some profitable attention, has twisted an existing CDC report to enflame the battle between people who hold women solely accountable for the well-being of children and fetuses, and people who realize that men have quite a bit to do with it, too. From the original CDC report, with emphasis added by me:
The goal of these recommendations is to improve the health of women and couples, before conception of a first or subsequent pregnancy. Since the early 1990s, guidelines have recommended preconception care, and reviews of previous studies have assessed the evidence for interventions and documented the evidence for specific interventions.
The CDC report doesn’t advise social policy. It just points out how men, women and doctors can work to ensure healthy pregnancies and babies. As Amanda at Pandagon points out:
So the recommendation is not to scold all women between 12 and 60 never to drink or smoke or own a fucking cat. In fact, while there’s not a lot of language in the actual report condoning social control of all women as a health care initiative, there’s a whole shitload of suggestions to doctors that they discuss the importance of spacing children and preventing unplanned pregnancies. Prepregnancy visits are also encouraged, which again indicates that these guidelines are more about doctors telling women to take conception and pregnancy seriously than they are trying to imply that doctors should assume all women are equal pregnancy risk.
And the report specifically singles out the fact that many women can’t afford to see a doctor on a regular basis as a factor contributing to infant health problems.
So why did the Post choose to paint this story as if the Feds were re-classifying women as wombs instead of people? Because it’s controversial, and controversy sells. And if the article causes a marriage to break up because a husband assumes a tragic miscarriage was due to the wife selfishly cleaning the litter box, that’s not the Post’s problem. Or if an eleven-year old girl shrugs and has sex because she figures if the Feds consider her “pre-pregnant”, they must expect her to be having sex, that’s not the Post’s problem. And if potential fathers assume it’s okay for them to shoot heroin while they’re trying to conceive because the Feds said it’s all on the woman to keep that baby healthy, that’s not the Post’s problem.
The Post views women as a tool for profit, and views the press as having no responsibility to society whatsoever.