Round-Up: Reproductive Health around the internet, Feminist-style

As I wait for word from one particular employer (background check is completed! Yay!) I decided to put together some of the best things I read this week on the internet this week in regards to women’s health, abortion, and midwifery. Because a vast majority of my facebook friends are feminists/midwives/generally good people who care about women’s bodies, it makes posts like these incredibly easy to compile, so thanks everyone! Happy Reading! 

Plan B and Fat Shaming: How to Avoid Unnecessarily Judgmental Reporting About Weight–Amanda Marcotte at RH Reality Check

I’m sure many of you have heard about the recent revelation that Europe’s version of Plan B may not be as effective in women weighing over 176 lbs, and begins to lose effectiveness for women starting at 166 lbs….which for the record, is THE AVERAGE WEIGHT of American women. Amanda Marcotte covers the issue pretty well, because what we do not need, along with our public health announcements is a dose of fat-shaming:

“Unfortunately, what could have been a clean victory for public health was sullied by the fact that many in the press have no idea how to handle a story about women and weight without bringing it back to fat-shaming. As reported at ThinkProgress, many headline writers around the country used the words “overweight” or “obese” in their headlines, even though the story is not actually about whether a woman weighs “too much,” nor is it about how much body fat she has. Because of this, the stories ended up delivering a pointless dose of shame alongside important health information, which may have made them less effective in getting the point across.” Continue reading

The Socially Accepted Violence Against Pregnant and Laboring Women–Mumanu

One of my favorite researchers, Dr. Cheryl Beck, Ph.D, has done some amazing research about women who experience PTSD-like symptoms after their births, and a link to one of her studies can be found here. We commonly overlook how women are treated during their births, and that it is the medical professional in charge, and not the laboring woman. As birth advocate and Seattle local Penny Simkin has stated over and over, “women never forget how they were made to feel at their births.” 

“During labour, telling a woman that if she doesn’t birth her baby within two hours they will do a ceasarean is like telling a man that he has to have an orgasm within the next three minutes or they will cut the end of his penis…. except what they are threatening the woman with is major surgery. A woman doesn’t need to know what might happen while she’s in labour as this will disrupt her feelings of safety and the release of hormones that will improve her chances of a safe and easy birth.

These labour hormones are the same as the sex hormones. Imagine how each person would feel if the other said, during sex, “You’re not doing it right”, “Your penis isn’t big enough”, “Stay still”, “This isn’t about your pleasure”, “You’re no good at this because you’re too fat, too old, too sick, too tired”.

The health profession know this about birth. Doctors and midwives know that a woman must feel safe and confident and keep moving to have a good birth. However, when they don’t act for the whole good of the mother and baby, I believe they are putting themselves in the position of abuser. Hospital policies are not law yet they are pushed onto a healthy labouring woman as though they are.

Now, I’m not saying all obstetricians and midwives are abusers. I know many wonderful health professionals who do a truely amazing job at supporting women. But, having massaged over 2000 pregnant women and new mothers over the last seven years I have heard many, many wonderful and awful stories. A student of mine called me up recently feeling very upset about the way her midwife treated her during her birth. Upon arrival her midwife said she’d have to cancel her beauty appointment to be here, giving the labouring woman the strong feeling that her being in labour was such an incovenience. She was then set up for feeling guilty and also untrusting of her midwife and all that happened thereafter.

I’ve had many clients complain of painful vaginal exams during labour. Despite protests these women are often ignored, told to suck it up or reassured that it needs to be done and it’ll be over soon. How familiar this is to a child suffering sexual abuse from a person they know?Vaginal exams give very little useful information when done routinely. A cervix can dilate and contract very quickly or very slowly and still be part of a safe birth. The dilation of the cervix doesn’t tell us how soon a baby will be born… there are many other factors that affect this.

One midwife, during a birth I attended, carried out a vaginal exam during a contraction, despite it being more painful, and causing the woman’s waters to break (technically a surgical procedure). The midwife turned around and said that is was common for that to happen when doing a vaginal exam through a contraction. It is common for medical professionals to do these types of procedures ‘accidentally’ without the person’s consent, increasing the risks of birth and violating the person’s human rights of choice.” Continue reading…

Oh Joy Sex Toy: The Copper IUD–by Erika Moen at Bitch Media

I love IUDs. I love what is known as “Long-Acting Reversible Contraception” (shortened to LARCs in the reproductive health world), and I think they’re a wonderfully effective, fantastic option for young women taking charge of their reproductive lives and health care. Erika Moen does a phenomenal job of reviewing the copper IUD, the ParaGuard, in comic form, no less! Check it out here

Interview with Jen Mamary, CNM at Words As Weapons

Jen graduated in the class ahead of me, and is a totally awesome advocate for all people looking for reproductive health care, so check out her awesome interview right here! Yes! You want to listen! 

Jen talks about and shares “insight and expertise on what its like to be present at the moment of birthJEN MAMARY, nurse midwife, talks to me about birthing care for gender queer patients, midwifery vs hospital births, medical industry biases towards people of different sexual orientation and gender nonconformity, providing the best patient care for the widest number of people, the role of insurance companies in health care, and the need for socialized medicine.” 

ACLU Sues, Claiming Catholic Hospitals Put Women At Risk–NPR

I have very strong feelings about Catholic-based institutions dictating the level of health care that can be given, and the ACLU is finally taking on a large Catholic hospital in Michigan. For an excellent primer in Catholic hospitals and the issues it creates for patients, providers, and nurses, read this comprehensive article from Cienna Madrid at the Stranger.

From NPR:

“The American Civil Liberties Union has decided to go directly to the source of its unhappiness with the way women are treated in Catholic hospitals. It’s suing the nation’s Catholic bishops.

The ACLU and the ACLU of Michigan have filed suit in federal court in Michigan charging that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops forces hospitals to deliver what amounts to substandard medical care.

Directly at issue are the bishops’ “Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services,” which among other things forbid Catholic hospitals to perform abortions, even if the pregnant woman’s life or health is at risk.

“It’s about rules that tie the hands of doctors at Catholic facilities,” says ACLU Deputy National Legal Director Louise Melling.

The case involves a mother of three from Muskego, Mich., named Tamesha Means. In December 2010, when she was 18 weeks pregnant, her water broke. A friend drove her to the nearest hospital, Mercy Health Partners, where she was told she was likely to lose the baby. But she was not told that the hospital would not do the therapeutic abortion she would get in a non-Catholic facility. She was given medication to stop contractions and sent home. She returned to the hospital later, bleeding, running a fever and in pain, and begged them to help her.

“And they proceeded on with, ‘Well, you know, Tamesha, there’s nothing that we can do to help you,’ ” she says. Means said she was unaware that it was a Catholic facility.

Eventually, as the hospital was preparing to discharge her again, she delivered the very premature infant, who died after a few hours.

Dr. Douglas Laube, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Wisconsin, says the care she got did not meet basic medical standards.

“A woman who is 18 weeks pregnant and who presents with these symptoms, the same that Ms. Means had, should be told that there’s virtually no chance that her fetus will survive and that continuing the pregnancy puts her at risk, and that the safest course of treatment would be to terminate the pregnancy,” Laube says. “From the outset, Ms. Means should have been given this information at the very least.” Continue reading….

Forced C-section was ‘the stuff of nightmares’: Social Services condemned for forcibly removing unborn child from woman–The Independent

This week in “Pregnant Women Aren’t People….”

“The case of a woman whose baby daughter was forcibly removed from her womb by social services was described by human-rights groups on Sunday night as “the stuff of nightmares”. The Italian woman was sedated and her baby delivered against her will, after Essex social services obtained a court order in August 2012 for the birth “to be enforced by way of caesarean section”.

The case, described by the woman’s lawyers as “unprecedented”, has further highlighted the controversial decisions made by the Court of Protection, which authorised the forced removal of the baby, as well as the powers afforded to social workers.

The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was visiting Britain in July last year to attend a Ryanair training course at Stansted airport in Essex when she suffered a panic attack after failing to take medication for her bipolar disorder.” Continue reading…

And last but not least, some good news to round out the day:

Abortion Services Restored at Whole Woman’s Health in Fort Worth, Texas–RH Reality Check

“A reproductive health-care clinic that was recently forced to close due to stringent restrictions passed by the Texas legislature has once again opened its doors to clients after a doctor affiliated with the clinic obtained admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. Whole Woman’s Health in Fort Worth, one of five Whole Woman’s Health (WWH) clinics in the state, announced Tuesday that it would reopen. This leaves the WWH clinic in McAllen as the only one of the five clinics to still be closed.

The Texas legislature passed several restrictions on reproductive health care this summer. After a 13-hour filibuster by current gubernatorial candidate Sen. Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth), the legislature reconvened later in the summer and passed HB 2, which created a slew of new restrictions on abortion care, including a mandate that doctors affiliated with clinics providing abortion services obtain admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the clinic.

Amy Hagstrom Miller, CEO at Whole Woman’s Health, told RH Reality Check that “yesterday was a victory mainly because we can now serve women again and I can bring my great staff back to work.” As she explained, WWH was forced to lay off 34 employees at multiple clinic sites in the past three weeks due to the new regulations.” Continue reading….

What have you read about women’s reproductive health this week? 

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