Wednesday, May 20, 2009


The city's health department placed an ad on the bus. The Healthy Mothers program, a public health cause that I whole-heartedly support, advocates nutrition and physical safety during pregnancy to ensure the health of both mother and child. This poster featured several happy and healthy mothers who shouted slogans at me. "Take your prenatal vitamins!" "Get an ultrasound every month!" "Commit to 40 weeks!"


Now, let alone the existential contradiction that having an abortion would somehow yield an unhealthy child, the promotion of pregnancy as a commitment is a little hard to swallow. Commit to 40 weeks? This just comes so naturally from this beaming mother's mouth, as though there were something intrinsically healthful about having babies. We all know that abortions are safer than childbirth, and we all know that pregnancy wreaks havoc on a woman's body (fewer know that sociologists actually consider pregnancy a state of physical and psychological crisis for the woman; true story!). But the implication here is that women who have abortions can't commit: they're quitters. The mayor of my great city is telling women who don't carry to term that they're both unhealthy and suffering from commitment anxiety. Say what?!?!

Since when did pregnancy become a physical conquest and not a joyous experience for a woman? It's like a workout or diet program. You have to persevere! You have to be strong! You have to commit! So I guess all these pregnant women, irrespective of social and economic factors, just have to keep on truckin', because pregnancy is a commitment and what doesn't kill you just makes you stronger (not to mention healthier!). I guess they just commit to those 40 weeks and one fine day they push out this little life, and whatever happens beyond this point is irrelevant because she made it to the finish line. She followed through with her "commitment", and isn't she so proud, so fulfilled? She carried to term!

Now what?

1 comment:

  1. Ha. Actually I think it IS a physical conquest. Or at least, if I ever went crazy and decided to birth a baby, that's probably the only way I'd get through it.


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