In 1923, 17-year-old Carrie Buck was raped and impregnated. Her adoptive family, trying to avoid the public shame of having an unwed mother in their midst, had her committed to an institution for the "feeble minded." Because she was supposedly "feeble-minded" and the daughter of an unwed mother herself, the State of Virginia sought to sterilize her and, in 1927, the Supreme Court ruled in its favor.
One would think we've come a long way since 1927. But apparently we haven't.
The hour-long PBS drama follows a group of young midwives in London's East End in the 1950s, led by a convent of Anglican nursing nuns, the Sisters of St. Raymond Nonnatus. The show's premise offers an opportunity to examine reproductive health on television without having to contend with contemporary political quandaries, and provides an excellent teachable moment for the anti-choice among us. Plus, it's just good TV.
This conception of empiricism—what it means to do "good," "reliable," and "valid" science—constrains what work can be done in the future. The exclusions "necessitated" by these models of research aren't an accident either—broadly speaking, the conception of rationalism underpinning the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment came out of white, Western, bourgeois and aristocratic thought. Also, the scientific and social scientific paradigm that reigns in university research (and in much of the private, state-sanctioned research programs) says that many types of studies require a certain-sized subject population in order to claim statistical validity. So studies about, say, queer people or trans people, or queer trans people, are often thwarted by the comparatively smaller numbers of folks who a) feel comfortable being out to a group of strangers in a clinical environment, b) feel comfortable exploring potentially sensitive issues in the context of their unequal status as a research subject, c) even believe in this type of research, and d) are targeted by researchers' advertisements or happen to see such adverts.
It's a shitty time to have a uterus, especially if you don't want the government telling you what to do with it. Since we'd rather laugh than cry, check out this spot-on video from the folks at Funny or Die, featuring eight middle-aged men giving their "expert" opinions on women's reproductive health.
Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels defunded Planned Parenthood of Indiana on Tuesday. As if this fail couldn't get any worse, speculation surrounds Daniels' intent as to why he signed the bill. And why did he?
When I talk about women's choices regarding children, pregnancy, and childbirth, someone usually asks about the men. Last month, I interviewed half a dozen men of varying ages, backgrounds, and life experience about why they never want to have children. A number of them had considered getting (or had already gotten) a vasectomy. The number one reason? It's easier (from a surgical/recovery standpoint) and cheaper than any option women have.
A fairly obvious question that I haven't addressed during this series is whether women have the right to be sterile. It seems like sort of an obvious one (if not with just one obvious answer) until you consider how we frame other discussions about women's health.
Do you think women know that non-invasive procedures like Essure are an option? Do you think childfree women have the same trouble securing any form of permanent birth control, no matter which type they want? Have you encountered resistance from medical professionals about sterilization options?
After I got my tubes tied last year, I got a lot of questions from friends (and strangers) about what a tubal ligation actually means. It's not a common procedure for a young (under 30), relatively healthy childfree woman to have, and most of my friends (parents and non-parents) rely on other forms of birth control, permanent or otherwise. I realize that a lot of Bitch readers know a lot about their bodies and reproductive health, but in the interest of clearing up some misconceptions about tubal ligations specifically (I'll get to other permanent birth control like Essure later this week), here are a few of the questions I've fielded and how I generally answer them.
I've hesitated about tackling this particular topic, but with the recent proximity of Mother's Day and the 50th anniversary of The Pill, I figured there was never going to be a better time to address it. My hesitation stems from a reluctance to drag biology into the equation and to bring up some unpleasant home truths that can't be advocated or educated away.