Friday 31 October 2008

Why yes, I will have a splash of wine with dinner ….

or a micro-brewed beer from the local ale crafters, said the pregnant woman.
All of you busybodies out there, you can choke back your ill-advised counsel to her. According to this recent study, the occasional glass of wine or pint of beer will not damage her fetus.

The University College London team asked mothers about how much alcohol they had drunk during pregnancy when their babies were nine months old. Light drinking was classed as ranging from one drink every so often to two drinks per week, while moderate drinking was between three and six units per week or three to five per one occasion. Heavy drinking was regarded as seven or more units per week or at least six per occasion. …

The researchers then went back when the children were three to ask about their behaviour and understanding. The study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, found boys born to light drinkers were 40% less likely to have conduct problems and 30% less likely to be hyperactive than those whose mothers had abstained. They also scored more highly on vocabulary tests and on identifying colours, shapes, letters and numbers. Girls born to light drinkers were 30% less likely to have emotional problems than those born to abstainers, although the researchers say this could be due to family and social backgrounds. ....

Dr Yvonne Kelly, the epidemiologist who led the study, said: “Our research has found that light drinking by pregnant mothers does not increase the risk of behavioural problems and cognitive defects. “The reasons behind these findings might in part be because light drinkers tend to be more socially advantaged than abstainers, rather than being due to the physical benefits of low level alcohol consumption seen, for example, in heart disease.” …

Dr Kelly added: “Our study’s findings do raise questions as to whether the current push for policy to recommend complete abstinence during pregnancy is merited and suggest that further research needs to be done.”

Most of us who were pregnant and had babies before this current hysteria around alcohol consumption during gestation always knew that.
Originally published at Birth Pangs.

Tuesday 28 October 2008

Pelvic Theology: The Bleat Goes On and On and On …

Yet another high-falutin’ Catholic cleric has his ecclesiastical pantaloons in a knot.

Fordham University Law School’s plan to give an award to the Supreme Court justice Stephen G. Breyer on Wednesday night has drawn criticism from Cardinal Edward M. Egan … Justice Breyer wrote the majority opinion in the Supreme Court’s 2000 decision overturning Nebraska’s ban on late-term, or so-called partial-birth, abortion. One of the reasons he cited was that the law was unconstitutional because it made no exception for situations in which the mother’s health was at risk.

He is not the first supporter of abortion rights to receive the Fordham ethics prize, established in 1976 to recognize “individuals whose work exemplifies outstanding standards of professional
conduct, promotes the advancement of justice and brings credit to the profession” of the law. But other members of the court who joined in opinions upholding abortion rights — Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who received the prize in 2001, and former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who was given the award in 1992 — did not draw criticism from Catholic activists and the hierarchy.

Ah, but Bader Ginsberg and Day O’Connor were not awarded this recognition during a presidential election campaign where the issue of abortion has become confrontational and is being framed in terms that escape the control of the fetus fetishists.

In recent months, the Cardinal Newman Society, which brought wide attention to this year’s award, has become increasingly outspoken in its criticism of Catholic university officials perceived as less than faithful to church doctrine.

On Oct. 9, Mr. Reilly labeled it “a serious scandal” when Pamela Trotman Reid, the president of St. Joseph College in West Hartford, Conn., was quoted in The Hartford Courant as saying she was “concerned about the right of women to make choices about their own health” if John McCain became president. … In an interview, Mr. Reilly said that the society’s criticisms were not intended to favor one party or candidate over another, or to discourage the exercise of free speech on Catholic campuses.

Or to ensure that the Catholic Church maintains control over women’s reproductive health? As was
affirmed at Birth Pangs, these robe-wearing misogynists meddle in political and legal issues because of the implicit authority they claim: Pelvic Theology.

First posted at Birth Pangs

Sunday 26 October 2008

A laborious work of non-fiction.

Reality is often more bizarre than fiction. If four years ago, a satirist had written a novel about the travails of a US right-wing political party and a turbulent election campaign that featured a political ‘marriage of convenience’ between an ersatz war hero and a ditzy moose-hunting governor, critics might have found it over the top.

Thus literary embellishment is applied to the gritty re-telling of 24 real-life stories of childbirth.

The cover belies the bloody, Gothic comedy of childbirth. An infant sleeps serenely, small spidery fingers curved to cheeks, efficiently wrapped in a cone of white blanket like a little amuse gueule - or a Communion wafer - ready to be plucked up and savoured. But inside Great Expectations there is blood aplenty (and copious other fluids, including tears), thundering pain, death and near-death experiences. The final month of pregnancy is Waiting for Godot, then suddenly the curtain rises on Act IV, Scene III of Macbeth. Editors Dede Crane and Lisa Moore have assembled a hot pot of two dozen Canadian fiction writers and journalists, women and men, to reflect on the childbirth experience from the trenches.
Trench?!? Ha! That’s a new one, I’ve never heard the
va-jay-jay called that.

Saturday 25 October 2008

Teen pregnancy: no longer shameful, still a concern.

It may be that the intense media visibility awarded to Bristol Palin’s unintended pregnancy will bring about a shift in public attitudes towards teen’s sex education.

Sarah Palin’s extreme and fundamentalist views on sex education, rape, and recently, on bombing abortion clinics have given these issues prominence in the US presidential election campaign. A successful fund raising initiative for Planned Parenthood in the US was launched by email. Thousands of thank you cards were sent to the Republican VP candidate in acknowledgement of her pivotal role in provoking US citizens to donate to Planned Parenthood.

Shortly after Palin’s nomination, e-mails began circulating suggesting that pro-choice women make donations to Planned Parenthood in her honor. As of this week, Planned Parenthood has received more than 40,000 donations in Palin’s name, totaling more than $1 million.
tabloids reported that Jamie Lynn Spears may have unintentionally become pregnant again. Regardless of whether the rumour is founded or not, the public reaction seems to indicate that nobody believes in that quaint saying ‘Ignorance is bliss’ any longer. Even the young yet wise-cracking Juno took responsibility for her mistake and took charge of her choice.

A sensible, well-informed young woman observed the media frenzy around the Palin and Spears unintended pregnancies and wrote a well-researched article about concerns regarding adolescent sexuality.

Every year in the U.S, over one million teenagers become pregnant. Most recently, pregnant teens have flooded Planned Parenthood health centers. Last year, Planned Parenthood centers provided sex education to 1.2 million teens and adults. This year will yield roughly 750,000 pregnant teenage girls, which is a number 12 times more than that of people diagnosed with AIDS in 2008, as well as the total number of persons expected to die from some form of cancer this year.

In regards to percentages, this averages out to about 11 percent of all U.S. children being birthed by teens this year. By the time a teen has reached the age of 19, seven in ten teens have experienced at least one sexual encounter. … It is important that sex education be definitely enforced within schools and should not only approach the idea of sex and teens from an abstinence-only standpoint. According to an analysis of more than 115 studies researched by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy (NC), teen sex education programs proved ineffective when including only abstinence-only material, by which teens were neither encouraged nor influenced to abstain or delay sex until a more age-appropriate time.

According to Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, effective sex education is based on “medically accurate information” that is both abstinence-based and also teaches contraception and proper sex initiation, which has proven to be more effective in preventing unwanted pregnancies. Richards argues that for the past eight years, roughly $1.5 billion or more of taxpayers’ money has been “wasted” on ineffective abstinence-only programs. Richards also demands that education and initiation of sex education must change with the next administration because the current policies have proven unsuccessful. “When it comes to sexuality education, there should be no debate. The only way our children can be prepared is to be informed; this isn’t about ideology, it’s about the health and safety of our kids.”

First posted at Birth Pangs

Thursday 23 October 2008

PREVENTION as well as Devotion

We recently learned that Levi Johnston, who got Bristol Palin in a family way, attended the Republic National Convention with a new tattoo to flash. As proof of his devotion it is said that he had the name Bristol permanently inked on his left ring finger.
Unfortunately, the reality of Bristol’s pregnancy demonstrates that Abstinence-only sex education often fails. Perhaps Levi should also get the word condom tattooed on his johnson.
As a reminder of his devotion, of course.
First posted at Birth Pangs.

Tuesday 21 October 2008

Choice in Northern Ireland

The Family Planning Association in Northern Ireland surveyed people last month regarding the controversial question of abortion. Close to two-thirds (62%) supported access to abortion in cases of rape or incest.

The fpa said this strong support for women’s right to choose was contrary to the myth that people in Northern Ireland did not want to see abortion available under any circumstances. The survey of 690 people aged 18 to 55 years was carried out last month and published this week in the run up to tomorrow’s vote on an amendment to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill to extend the Abortion Act 1967 to Northern Ireland.

Dr Audrey Simpson, director of fpa in Northern Ireland said: “It is time that the Northern Ireland Assembly faced up to the realities of the situation that people in Northern Ireland support the right to choose. These statistics can not be ignored and show that MLAs [Members of the Legislative Assembly] have a responsibility to give women in Northern Ireland the choice to have an abortion.
“If the elected members of the Northern Ireland Assembly are not willing to listen to public opinion and give women in Northern Ireland the same human rights as women in the rest of the UK, then it is up to Westminster MPs to be the voice of Northern Irish women.”

More blogs on the limited choices that are available to women in Northern Ireland.
First posted at Birth Pangs.

Monday 20 October 2008

No-choicer bombast falls short of risking tax-exempt status.

In Colorado, a Catholic clergyman attacked US presidential candidate Obama and his running mate at the Educating on the Nature and Dignity of Women dinner. Archbishop Chaput also took the opportunity to criticize liberal Catholic groups as well as the Catholic legal scholar Douglas Kmiec who recently endorsed Obama.

Many members of Catholics for Choice in the US believe in a broad definition of pro-life which includes opposition to war and the death penalty as well as support for those principles associated historically with the Catholic worker movement: eradicating poverty and promoting social justice. Their president Jon O’Brien issued a statement:

“The fact sheet from the bishops’ lobbying arm, the Committee on Pro-Life Activities, reaffirms the US bishops’ desire to place themselves at the center of the political discussion on abortion. However, in doing so, they do not reflect the fullness of Catholic teaching on abortion, nor do they represent
what Catholics actually believe. It is simply not true that the Roman Catholic church’s position on abortion has remained unchanged for 2,000 years.

While members of the Catholic hierarchy have consistently opposed abortion, their reasons for doing so and the teachings they espoused to the faithful have varied continually. … It is also telling that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops omitted to mention that no pope has proclaimed the
prohibition of abortion an ‘infallible’ teaching. This means that there is much more room for debate than is usually thought, with opinions among theologians and the laity differing widely. In any case,
Catholic theology tells individuals to follow their personal conscience in moral matters, even when their conscience is in conflict with hierarchical views.

The reality that the bishops are trying to overcome is that the majority of Catholics do not agree with them on abortion, or on their role in political life.”

at Catholics In Public Life.

Wendy Norris writes about the Bishop’s dinner screed for the Colorado Independent:
… Chaput was sure to point out that his remarks were offered as a private citizen and not as a representative of the diocese at the dinner for Catholic women. The Internal Revenue Service has been cracking down on clergy for breaching the law that prohibits tax-exempt religious groups from making statements supporting or opposing political candidates.
Indeed. So it may not require hell freezing over, more likely the icy gaze of the IRS to make sure a certain religious cleric refrains from meddling in election campaigns, for fear of having his status and privileges go

First posted at Birth Pangs.

Sunday 12 October 2008

Two by two, to procreate as intended …

Thank the goddess that BigCityLib is keeping an eye on the Lifeshite fetus fetishists. We learn from his blogpost that the abortion criminalizers have compiled a list of the candidates that they consider to be in their camp.
That, along with April Reign’s reflections upon Stevie’s little parable about Noah and his ark, made Birth Pangs think that this approach, where sex = breeding has become a most unsavoury meme in this election campaign. Especially since since Lifeshite clearly labels its procreation political stance as one for “Serious Christians”, aka zealots.
Meanwhile in the US, Repulsican rightwing rhetoric cranked up the fearmongering to such a degree that even some ideologues are starting to panic over the ’stormfront’ that may have been unleashed. Good luck with that.
First posted at Birth Pangs.

Palin attacks choice, yet offers nothing to families.

Does this sound familiar? An all-out attack on choice, framed by a fetus fetishist who offers nothing in support of pregnant women and families.

Sarah Palin attacked the Democrats’ presidential candidate once again at a rally in Pennsylvania yesterday, this time for his position on choice.
Speaking at a rally in a packed hockey arena in Johnstown, Palin accused Obama of consistently supporting abortion legislation as a legislator in Illinois and Washington. ”In times like these with wars and financial crisis, I know it may be easy to forget even as deep and abiding concern as a right to life, and it seems that our opponent will forget that,” Palin told about 6,000 supporters in
the arena. “He hopes you won’t notice how radical, absolutely radical, his ideas on this and his record is until it’s too late.” … ”Americans need to see his record for what it is,” Palin said. “And, please, it is not negative, it is not mean-spirited, to talk about his record.”
For the record, here is some information about the Republican and the Democrat platforms regarding support to families.

McCain lacks an articulated family-policy platform, a consistent view on women’s issues, and a perspective on government’s role vis-à-vis children beyond the walls of the schoolhouse. Obama, on the other hand, has well-defined plans for tackling teenage pregnancy, expanding early-childhood education, improving child-support collection, and - importantly - supporting new families as they step into the uncertain terrain of parenthood.The American family is a fragile institution. High rates of poverty, divorce, single parenthood and social isolation exaggerate the typical strains of parenting. As a result, the United States has one of the highest child maltreatment rates among industrialized nations, and generations of children are raised under difficult and sometimes traumatic circumstances.

Against this backdrop, the United States provides few services to support new families. Unlike many European countries, we do not offer universal paid parental leave, universal child care, universal health care, or universal income supports. … Low-income families, in particular, can have a better shot at parenting their children well if given intensive support before, and after, the birth of their child. … If elected, Obama’s initial steps into the field of family policy would signal an important shift in federal policymaking. But it would provide more than a signal to low-income parents. For them and for their children, it might offer a real lifeline to a better future.

From here.

First posted at Birth Pangs

Wednesday 8 October 2008

Unintended pregnancy: Ooops, I did it again!

This is from the ‘we-just-could-not-make-this-stuff-up’ files. Remember Jamie Lynn Spears? The National Inquirer (your blabbing friends sold you out, JL) is reporting that yup, she is pregnant again. Birth Pangs knows that this is one of the predictable outcomes of teaching Abstinence-Only programs to randy adolescents. For example, this:
The unplanned pregnancy came as a shock to Jamie Lynn, who’d been breast-feeding her infant daughter Maddie Briann, insiders say.

“Jamie Lynn believed she couldn’t get pregnant while she was breast-feeding,” said the close source. “She’d expected to have her period by early September.” A home pregnancy test came back positive and Jamie Lynn cried her eyes out, said the source.

Her mother Lynne was livid when she found out, divulged an insider.

Say Lynne, why didn’t you give Jamie Lynn the real facts of life, especially since she likely knows by now that it isn’t The Great Crawfish who delivers babies to happy homes in the middle of the night. Or whatever it is that mamas in Louisiana tell their children when they are 5 years old.
First posted at Birth Pangs.

Shhh . . . Fetus Fetishists Celebrate MASSIVE Victory!

Back in May, we reported that the lying whiners poor little charity, First Place Pregnancy Centre, was suing Planned Parenthood over its role in helping Ottawa Senators fans find out where their donations were being directed by the Senators' wives and girlfriends.

Well, it appears that the matter was quietly settled on September 16.

The two sides issued a joint press release with very few details.

However, that does not deter the spinners at Lifeshite and other Xian organs.

Don Hutchinson, the vice president of the Centre for Faith and Public Life and legal counsel for the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, commented on the settlement in a recent editorial and says he thinks the language of the press release makes it appear First Place got the better end of the settlement.

Pull the other one, Don. You really think the fetus fetishists would agree to STFU if they actually 'got the better end of the settlement'?

Because that's what they've done. If Planned Parenthood was so skeert that it ponied up any contrition let alone actual dough, it would have been skeert enough to agree to whatever conditions the fetus fetishists set.

And the fetus fetishists would not have stipulated that there would be nothing more said. There would have been crowing and shrieeking all over the fetus-fetishizing blogosphere. And it wouldn't have taken more than three weeks to come to anyone's attention.

Ah well, we at Birth Pangs don't know what happened and so will not speculate further.

But there is one further good outcome of this snafu. From

Unfortunately, caught in the crossfire were the Sens’ Better Halves, a group of women who stood by their cause even after the publicity broke nearly a year ago. Like the army of Saul before Goliath, the Ottawa Senators management and foundation shook in fear and have determined that the Sens’ Better Halves will no longer have the privilege extended other NHL team wives and girlfriends. The Sens’ Better Halves have been told that their fundraising days with the team are over. Apparently, the team’s management hasn’t taken to heart the lesson that King Saul might have learned in order to prevent the kingdom being taken from him. We commend the Sens’ Better Halves for their courage.

We don't understand that stuff about King Saul. We do understand: 'Fool the Sens' management once, shame on you. You do not get the chance to embarrass them twice'.

UPPITY-DATE: Wow. The Canadian LifeShite didn't even try to spin the story, though there is some stupidity about 'charges'.

First published at Birth Pangs.

Wednesday 1 October 2008

R.E.A.L. Abstinence™ … Now with photos and YouTube.

When Birth Pangs was conceived, gestated and born, we humble bloggers assumed that most of our posts would be parody: witty, silly and fun social satire. Unfortunately, there are current events and news that cannot be addressed with levity. Nonetheless we still manage to poke and prod at issues that are relevant to our concerns; sometimes with the grave attention they merit, but more often than not, with the irreverence they deserve.
Recently Heather Mallick, a talented writer, columnist and observer of social and political trends was savaged by rightwing goons, most of them from the US, because of an amusing piece she wrote about Sarah Palin in her CBC rubrique. Sadly to say, the CBC ombudsman and the publisher hung her out to dry, placating the goons instead of respecting freedom of thought.
Thus, in Heather’s honour, I fluffed up this old bit: R.E.A.L. Abstinence™, with photos and YouTube. And it’s dedicated to the multitudes of sexually inadequate Republican males.
The problem with Abstinence programs currently in vogue in the US and some parts of Canada is that they just don’t go far enough. As every religious zealot proclaims in their own defense, boys will boys, men will be men; it’s simply NOT THEIR FAULT they can’t seem to keep their ‘primitive animal’ urges under control and their willies inside their pants.
This manifests itself in the doctrine of strict Catholicism, Orthodox Judaism and Islam and their clumsy attempts to protect men from temptation and sin (aka women). As evident in thousands of years of self-justification from men accused of rape, sexual assault and incest, they say they just can’t stop themselves. And one of the unfortunate side-effects of unleashed male sexuality is female pregnancy. Not to mention the profligate spilling of man-seed. Won’t somebody please think of all the wasted semen?
Thus the time has come for the male chastity belt. In the past, such a device would have been constructed of metal. The discovery of Kevlar has provided today’s sexually abstinent and chaste folks with the perfect material to produce a design that snugly cradles the area known at “the basket” and strictly prevents undue stimulation or tampering. Of course, there is the required opening that safely allows the evacuation of urine without any mess.
Who controls the key to this device, you may well ask? So far, it would seem reasonable for a priest, rabbi or imam to become the sacred and trusted keyholders of their brethren’s genital muzzles, but it has yet to be determined who will guard the keys to the guardians’ own chastity belts.
Remember. Every sperm is sacred, every male-seed carries the potential of greatness. God, Yahveh or Allah .. each of Them is offended when sperm is not used for the purpose of procreation. Every sperm is sacred.
The R.E.A.L. Abstinence™ chastity belts are available in several sizes. The acronym stands for: Responsible, Empowered And Limp. R.E.A.L. abstinent™ men are not girly men. They are virile men who choose to give up unnecessary erections to protect women from unwanted pregnancies. They choose not to waste their sperm willy nilly. There is something noble and dignified about men who practice R.E.A.L. abstinence™.
Toll-free number: 1-800-YOUNUCH. Operators are ready to take your calls. Please have your measurements and credit cards at hand.
First posted at Birth Pangs.