"Our Bodies, Ourselves: Pregnancy and Birth" by Boston Women's Health Book Collective and Judy Norsigian

Well, the whole thing started going downhill when I flipped through this book in the library and the first page I opened to was the sex positions during pregnancy illustration. Not exactly something I want to be looking at, let alone in a public place! But I decided to give the book a try anyway. It's interesting to read things about pregnancy that are new to me, and I had heard of this book, or at least the one, "Our Bodies, Ourselves." I haven't read it though.

Okay so I skipped to the part about prenatal testing, because to me that is a way to quickly assess the point of view/agenda of the author, which is sometimes buried and not so obvious in other places. But in a general book about pregnancy, I've noticed you can have three attitudes about prenatal testing: 1, focus on the tests but don't talk much at all about what you do with that information, 2, talk about the tests and mention that one very tough consequence could be to "not continue your pregnancy", or 3, talk about the tests and bluntly talk about abortion as an option.

Personally, I prefer books with the first attitude. The next best option is being overly blunt about abortion as an option, even though I disagree that it should be or really is. The worst possible thing a book can do is include something like, "You will have to decide whether or not you will continue your pregnancy." Let's parse this sentence: 'You' are referred to three times, whereas your unborn baby is completely ignored and therefore trivialized. "Whether or not" implies some sort of balance, when the truth is there is choosing to abort is almost never comparable to choosing to have a baby. And "continue your pregnancy" is a complete euphemism, which I think helps perpetuate the evil belief that pregnancy as a form of birth control is okay. If instead, they reworded it as, "You will have to decide whether or not you will kill your unborn baby," it would be much more offensive, but much more accurate.

So the book lost major points for me on it's attitude about prenatal testing.

It lost even more points for me when it had a story from the point of view of a woman who had an abortion because the baby would have been born with major health impediments. She said that sometimes she sees glimpses of her son playing with her daughter (to cope with the grief, she decided to have another kid right away), but she knows that eventually that will "go away." No, lady, you are wrong. That will never go away, and you will always have to live with the fact that you chose to kill your own baby. I don't know how people will be held accountable for choosing to abort; it was clear to me from the story that this lady was not religious and had very little understanding of the Plan of Salvation. I'm sure glad I don't have to be the one judging.

But this book did have something that no other pregnancy book I've read had: a large section on speculations about the long-term effect of selective abortion on society. And all of those speculations were negative. They cited China and India, where the proportion of women to men is out of whack. They also speculated how reducing/eliminating certain forms of mental disability (e.g. down's syndrome) from the population would increase it's negative stigma. They also went on to talk about how it would be really tough for people who love to go camping and have outdoor adventures to have a baby with spina bifida, or intellectual bookie types to have a baby with down's syndrome, but on the other hand there is nothing to guarantee that your non-spina-bifida child will even LIKE camping, or that your non-down's-syndrome baby will like reading! This point is drastically under-emphasized in our jump-to-abortion culture. There is zero guarantee that your baby will be like xyz. And anyway, if your main reason for having a baby is to somehow live vicariously through them, or make sure they are "perfect" or have the "perfect life", you probably shouldn't be a parent anyway.

I also appreciated that they had a story from the point of view of a lady who has two children: one with down's syndrome, the other without. She said that the most difficult thing by far about having a mentally disabled child is not going slow, or the things her daughter can't do, etc. What's hard is how society devalues her daughter. She, the mom, doesn't feel sorry for herself, or see herself as unfortunate, or her daughter as "less", but everybody else around her does. The book also mentioned that studies have shown that families with kids with down's syndrome function almost identically to families with "normal" kids.

I skimmed through most of the book. I was retarded and read the section about still births. Yeah, that's not something you should do when you're pregnant.

I really enjoyed reading the part about advocating for better maternity care. There was a story about a lady who organized a riot outside a Maryland hospital that refused to give VBAC deliveries, and eventually her activism reversed their decision. That was inspiring. I don't think VBAC is right for everyone, but from what I understand, in most cases VBAC has fewer risks to everybody. I can believe that. Mostly, it's absurd that a hospital would refuse them outright.

But all in all, I would not recommend the book. It has some good stories, and some good perspectives, and lots of people collaborated to get very up to date information. But it was extremely frustrating how painfully politically correct they tried to be the whole time. Especially in their use of the pronouns "we" and "our". There was one sentence that made me laugh out loud, because it made zero sense. I read it to Danny, and he agreed. It was something like, "The women faced with this challenge must decide to support our family by working or stay at home with our children." - except even more ridiculous. Come on, you can use "their" when it makes grammatical sense!

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