A Blog devoted to progressive politics, environmental issues, LGBT issues, social justice, workers' rights, womens' rights, and, most importantly, Cats.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Environment: Poster Child

For birth control. Mandatory birth control.

Painting: Time by Sergey Tyukanov from the Sergey Tyukanov Museum of Art

Auntie Beeb is reporting that one Pamela, a 16-year-old Argentinian girl who is living on government assistance, just delivered her second set of triplets. She had her first child, a singleton son, at the age of fourteen. She delivered her first set of triplets a year later.

La Casa de Los Gatos, having adopted five rescue felines as a result of teenage (feline) pregnancy, opposes teenage pregnancy with all its might and main. Get real, girls! we say. At such a tender age, you are not capable of taking care of — physically, mentally, emotionally, financially — a young'un. The damage that early pregnancy does to your developing body and mind is not inconsequential.

Here, for example, is a short list of problems that might occur with any pregnancy but are especially harmful with a first, or early (under age 20), pregnancy:
When a women is too young pregnancy wanted or unwanted can be dangerous for both mother and infant. Complications of child birth and unsafe abortion are among the main causes of death for women under age 20. even under optimal conditions, young mothers, especially those under age 17, are more likely than women in their 20s to suffer pregnancy related complications and to die in childbirth.


The life-threatening complications of pregnancy that women under the age 20 face are the same risks that all other women face:
  • hemorrhage
  • sepsis
  • pregnancy-induced hypertension
  • pre-eclampsia
  • eclampsia
  • permanent clitoral nerve damage
  • fistulas
  • gestational diabetes, resulting in a greater risk of diabetes for mother and infant
  • obstructed labour caused by cephalopelvic disproportion
  • iron deficiency anemia.
These risks are higher for young women not only because of their age but also because births to younger women often are first births, which are riskier than the second, third and [, deity forbid,] fourth birth. Socio-economic factors, including poverty, malnutrition, lack of education, and lack of access to prenatal care or emergency obstetrical care can further increase a young woman’s risk of pregnancy related complications.
[We deleted the risk of unsafe abortion because we assume the gravida, like our felinquents, carried to term. We also added the risk of gestational diabetes, which current scientific knowledge links to an increased risk of diabetes for mother and child, as well as complications during pregnancy, and a few other revolting things we found on the Internets, Ed.]

Of course, these risks assume a healthy infant and mother. A mother with health problems will find greatly increased problems after pregnancy and childbirth. Immune system disorders like multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, lupus, are exacerbated by pregnancy.

And the number of defects that can afflict a fetus are legion. Add to that the greater likelihood of premature birth with multiple fetii, and you will understand why La Casa de Los Gatos is committed to high levels of reproductive health care for women. This includes the delivery of abortion and contraception services to all women. Women under the age of 20 really should not be reproducing.

But to return to our hapless Pamela: Auntie Beeb states that all her children were born prematurely. The earlier a child is born, the weaker it is, in general. It's at risk for all kinds of health problems up to a week before the expected delivery window of 37+ weeks. Ongoing risks include ADHD, a longer risk of SIDS, risk of cerebral palsy, hearing difficulties, vision deficiencies, and learning difficulties.

Needless to say, our Casa is not the only one holding forth. Auntie Beeb assures us:
[...] the case has sparked debate across Argentina.

In bars and cafes, as well as the letters pages of newspapers, there has been widespread criticism of Pamela's alleged promiscuity.
We note with some asperity that no accusations of promiscuity have been levelled at Pamela's partners. La Casa de Los Gatos is of the understanding that it usually takes two people to make children, and at least one of them must be male, barring the use of modern technology. We fervently hope that our Argentinian critics are not suggesting that Pamela was blessed, as was a certain Virgin, Church doctrine tells us, millenia ago, with an Immaculate Conception.

The article goes on to add:
Some Argentines are arguing that perhaps what Pamela needs is more advice on contraception.
Perhaps more stringent punishment for men who have sex with teenage girls, as well as imparting some knowledge of contraception to those yobs, might help.

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