Friday, January 14, 2011

Pregnancy Policing

Here's a fun story for you:
A bar in suburban Roselle could end up in a legal battle after forcing a woman to leave because she was eight months pregnant.
Michelle Lee, a 29-year-old Chicago native now living in Denver, came into town for a baby shower last week and her friends talked her into a night out afterward, ABC News reports.
Lee and her friends went to the Coach House in Roselle--about 30 miles northwest of Chicago--where she planned on drinking some water and having a slice of pizza, until a bouncer approached.
"He said to me, 'I have a personal question to ask you, are you pregnant?' I said yes. Then he said, 'I'm going to have to ask you to leave,'" Lee told ABC.
Why would the bouncer ask her to leave? He implied that the bar would be responsible if anything happened to her, without explaining how that differs between pregnant and not-pregnant people.

In an odd coincidence, I read the above story right before reading about this:
Research published this morning in Environmental Health Perspectives analyzed data for 268 women from the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES) from 2003-04, checking for the presence of 163 different chemicals in the women's blood, urine and serum. Many chemicals (such as PCBs, organochlorine pesticides, PFCs, phenols, PBDE flame retardants, phthalates, polycyclic 14 aromatic hydrocarbons and perchlorate) that are associated with adverse health effects were found in 99 percent to 100 percent of pregnant women, and nearly all women carried multiple contaminants.
When something is found in essentially ALL the pregnant women it's pretty hard to make any other conclusion than that the same chemicals would be found in all of us, right? Which implies that we should do something about our environment and about the food we eat and so on, right?

Nope. The story continues:
So what's a woman to do to protect herself and her baby? I asked the study's lead author, Tracey Woodruff, director of the Program on Reproductive Health and the Environment at the University of California San Francisco School of Medicine, who responded via e-mail


I'd like to hear from pregnant women: Are you concerned about chemicals to which you and your baby may be exposed? Would you consider taking the steps Woodruff recommends to help protect your health and your child's?
That is just plain silly, because it is extremely likely that at least some women in that study sample did do all the "right" things already, and even if none of them did it is extremely UNlikely that those individual acts would drastically reduce the number of those chemicals in our bodies.

What these two stories share is the idea of singling out pregnant women. It is pregnant women who should somehow be able to detox their bodies, all on their own! If they don't do that, add to the mother-guilt. And it is pregnant women who shouldn't go out to places where other people drink alcohol!