The CDC “pre-pregnancy” report — argle-bargle or fooferaw?

PrelesOkay. Dan Savage has ranted about it. Susie Bright has ranted about it. The blogosphere is supposedly going apeshit over it. And I have a giant question: Is it really that bad?

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?

Here’s 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 they’re 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.” They’re 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.

Dream diary, 5/21/06: Cream pie and Star Trek

Cream_pieDream #1: I dreamed that Ingrid was teaching me how to make a cream pie filling out of frozen waffles, Cool Whip, and frozen fish. It was important that you use the right kind of frozen fish, and you had to use two different kinds. The filling was suprisingly tasty, but somewhat bland, and Ingrid was explaining how to add flavor — there was a complicated formula, things like “To make it taste like blueberries, you have use coffee.”

StartrekDream #2: I was trying to convince the buyers at my job (Last Gasp, the small press/alternative book and comic distributor) that we had to carry every Star Trek magazine that was published, and to take all of them to all the book conventions we attended.

I seem to be dreaming a lot lately about food and pop culture. I don’t know what this means.

How Fred Flintstone Got Home, Got Wild, and Got a Stone Age Life — what does it mean?

FredflintstoneSo if you read the New Yorker, you probably read the Opal Whatsername parody in Shouts and Murmurs, How Fred Flintstone Got Home, Got Wild, and Got a Stone Age Life. I spent much of Mother’s day with Ingrid, her mom, and her mom’s partner trying to figure out all the literary references… but although I usually think of myself as somewhat well-read — and think of Ingrid and Judy and Lori in that category as well — we could only come up with maybe a third of the them.

I Googled the title, assuming someone somewhere would have out an answer key online… but I couldn’t find one.

So do you know any of the literary references in this parody? If you do, please post them here.

The ones we got:

“Afoot and lighthearted, he took to the open road…” Ingrid thinks this is On the Road, but none of us are sure.

“Stonecutter for the world, toolmaker, stacker of meat…” Chicago by Carl Sandburg.

“It was the best of times, it was the first of times…” Tale of Two Cities, Dickens.

“Keep on truckin’” – Robert Crumb.

“See Dino run. Run, Dino, run.” -Whatever the title of that stupid Dick and Jane book is.

“Let us go then, Hominidae…” Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, T.S. Eliot. (I almost wrote “Love Scone.” Oops.)

“What makes Fred run?” I assume this is What Makes Sammy Run, but haven’t read it so am not positive.

“Wilma, light of his life, fire of his loincloth…” Lolita, Nabakov.

“Once again at midnight nearly, while Fred pondered weak and weary…” The Raven, Poe. (I can never hear this without thinking about the Simpsons…)

“And so he beat on, fists against the granite, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” -The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald.

So what are the rest of the references? Help, please!

Dream diary, 5/12/06: Aaron Eckhart and the evil BART ticket machine

Aaroneckhart_2I dreamed I was having dinner with Aaron Eckhart (the actor: “Thank You for Smoking,” “In the Company of Men”). He was intelligent and charming, but also very snarky, and he kept asking trick questions and openly gloating when I answered wrong. He lived in this cramped, very messy apartment in San Francisco, and served me bacon and eggs and sliced bananas for dinner. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings by telling him I didn’t eat pork, and decided it was ethically okay to eat it if someone gave it to me who didn’t know that, so I ate it anyway.

BartAfter dinner, I tried to take BART home, but the BART ticket machine was dispensing candy and sodas as well as tickets: I pushed the wrong button, and the machine spewed out a huge stream of little hard candies, as well as a Coke. I spent most of the rest of the dream trying to make the machine give me an actual BART ticket, and trying to fit the enormous pile of candies into my purse.

Truth is grosser than fiction: The Thorax Cake

So the other day I was googling “cake,” looking for the women who throw the feminist stripper parties… and about the tenth entry from the top on Google, I saw this phrase:

“This year I decided to go the whole hog and make an entire thoracic cavity cake.”

Naturally, I immediately abandoned my search for boring old feminist stripper parties, and instead followed this bright new trail in search of the pleasures it might bring. The road less travelled, and all that. (I’m sure Robert Frost was talking about thoracic cavity cake Websites when he wrote that…)

I’ll warn you — the picture below is gross. Amazing, but gross. (Do click to enlarge — the level of detail is stunning.)

Thoraciccake

There is, in fact, an entire multi-section Web page devoted to this thing — including details on how it was made (it took hours and hours of work), the event it was made for… and, of course, many more pictures, both of the finished product and the steps along the way. It’s here:

http://www.theyrecoming.com/extras/pumpkinfest03/

I don’t really know what else to say. I’m kind of speechless. All I can say is: I love people. People are so deeply weird, it kills me. I love that people will spend hours and hours making something this elaborately grotesque, only to offer it to their friends the next day to be eaten. (Well, okay, and to photograph it and put it on their Website… but still.) We can be such a beautiful, obsessive, profoundly odd species, and as fucked-up as we are, there are times when I feel blessed to be part of it. And discovering that I share the planet with the creator of the thoracic cavity cake was definitely one of those times. Mazeltov.

Dream diary, 5/4/06: Voldemort’s glasses

PotterI dreamed that Harry Potter had found Voldemort’s glasses, and was convinced that this was a major key to defeating him. He was trying to contact the other members of the Order of the Phoenix to let them know about the glasses, but was having trouble getting around, since BART had just added a new line and the maps were confusing.

I woke up thinking, “I need to get a life.”