Salon writer Rebecca Traister sounds off on new “Orwellian” federal guidelines that treat all women as pre-pregnant–regardless of whether or not they plan on being so any time soon. “Healthcare authorities,” she writes, are “letting you know why your health as a woman really matters”–i.e. as baby incubators.
Want to get really freaked out? Check out the first paragraph of today’s Washington Post story “Forever Pregnant,” which explains that new federal guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ask “all females capable of conceiving a baby to treat themselves — and to be treated by the health care system — as pre-pregnant, regardless of whether they plan to get pregnant anytime soon.”
Pause. Breathe. OK. What?
Apparently, all women “between first menstrual period and menopause” are now supposed to take supplements of folic acid, refrain from smoking, maintain a healthy weight and watch chronic conditions like asthma and diabetes. Other recommendations, mentioned lower down in the Post piece, are that women stay away from cat feces and “discuss the danger alcohol poses to a developing fetus.”
Why stop there? What about avoiding sushi, uncooked meats and unpasteurized cheeses? Perhaps women should only be allowed on planes once it has been determined, by routine pelvic exams administered at the gate, that they are not carrying a fetus that could experience trauma midflight.
What’s this all about? According to the Post, “experts say it’s important that women follow this advice throughout their reproductive lives, because about half of pregnancies are unplanned and so much damage can be done to a fetus between conception and the time the pregnancy is confirmed.” So even when we’re not pregnant, or have no intention of becoming pregnant, or have already been pregnant and are done having babies, we should make our theoretically possible but wholly imaginary fetuses our priorities.