abortion/reproduction

Nationalist white supremacy organizations, and their gentler counterparts in the U.S., sometimes argue that non-white women are having more children than white women.  The result is a shift in the national demographic (that they don’t like).

This month the Pew Research Center released a report on the changing demographics of American motherhood (discovered thanks to a tip by Michael Kimmel).  Under “Mother’s Race,” we see that there has been a 12 percentage point decrease in the share of births to white women between 1990 and 2008.  In contrast, births to Asian and, especially, Hispanic women have increased (a combined 13 percentage points):

The share of births to native versus foreign born women has also shifted, with a quarter of births now to women who have immigrated to the U.S.:

They summarize:

White women made up 53% of mothers of newborns in 2008, down from 65% in 1990. The share of births to Hispanic women has grown dramatically, to one-in-four.

So, whether you agree with the national white supremacists’ evaluation of the data or not (I assume you do not), they’re right about the data.

UPDATE: Sabrina, in the comments, rightly points out that my comments assume that the father’s race matches the mother’s.

Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Caesarean sections — or C-sections, a surgery that involves making incisions through a woman’s abdomen and uterus to deliver her baby — have been on the rise since the mid-1990s.  Last month a New York Times story reported that 2007 saw the highest rate of Caesarean sections ever, 32 percent:

It is primarily non-medical issues that are driving the increase.  Many C-sections are performed because physicians fear lawsuits.  In a survey of obstetricians, 29 percent admitted to performing C-sections for this reason.

In other cases, mothers request that their labor be induced.  She may have a grandmother in town or a military husband about to be deployed and she wants to have the child while her family can be present.  Induced labor often fails and, so, C-sections are required.  More insidiously (and not mentioned in the story), epidurals also tend to slow down labor and require induction.  So the high rate of epidural use may also be contributing to the rise in C-sections.

And, C-sections beget C-sections.  Fewer and fewer women who have had a previous C-section are being allowed to attempt a vaginal birth.  “Fewer than 10 percent of women who had Caesareans now have vaginal births, compared with 28.3 percent in 1996.”

Rates of C-section in the U.S. are higher than in most industrialized countries but lower than in some developing countries.  “…rates have soared to 40 percent in some developing countries in Latin America, and the rates in Puerto Rico and China are approaching 50 percent.”

And rates in the U.S. states vary by 16 percentage points.  “The highest rates of Caesarean births were in New Jersey (38.3 percent) and Florida (37.2 percent), and the lowest were in Utah (22.2 percent) and Alaska (22.6 percent).”

There was no discussion about why the rates among states in the U.S. would be so variable.  Thoughts?

Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.


Dmitriy T.M., Jody, and Emily F. sent in a new public service announcement aimed at preventing teen pregnancy. It features Sarah Palin’s daughter, and teen mom, Bristol Palin.

Transcript:

What if I didn’t come from a famous family?
What if I didn’t have all their support?
What if I couldn’t finish my education?
What if I didn’t have all these opportunities?

Believe me, it wouldn’t be pretty.
Pause… before you play.

The ad is fantastic in its raw truth. But not, perhaps, in the way it is intended to be. While the ad is, I think, trying to tell all teenagers (not just non-rich ones) to “pause,” it also clearly lays out who pays the highest price for early motherhood.  Privileged teenagers (who are, by the way, more likely to abort than disadvantaged ones) will often be provided resources that mediate the negative consequences of keeping their child.  In contrast, when disadvantaged teenagers become mothers, it tends to entrench their disadvantage.

So thanks, Palins, for reminding us how nice it is to be rich.

Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Emily D., Jeff S., and Dmitriy T.M. have all sent in links to a series of billboards, recently put up in Atlanta, that suggest that abortion is a form of genocide against African Americans:

We’ve posted before on the argument that abortion should be made illegal because it is used disproportionately against the children of Black mothers.  There are good reasons to both credit and discredit this argument, but I’d like to point out something a bit different.

The fact that abortion is highly politicized in the United States, deeply connected to feminism (but not race or class movements), and framed as a contest between “life” and “choice” seems natural to most Americans. Indeed, it’s hard for many Americans to imagine a world in which the procedure is less politicized or debated differently.  But the politics of abortion in the U.S. is not the only kind of abortion politics that could exist.  Myra Marx Ferree‘s award-winning book comparing abortion politics in the U.S. and Germany, Shaping Abortion Discourse, is a great example (with Gamson, Gerhards, and Rucht).

So, whether you agree or disagree with the claims in these billboards, they nicely jolt us out of our acceptance of abortion politics as is.  How might thinking about abortion as a race issue or a class issue change the debate?

NEW! (Mar. ’10): Dmitriy T.M. let us know about this billboard in Poland, sponsored by the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, that connects abortion to Hitler (found at Opposing Views). The text reads, “Abortion for Polish women introduced by Hitler on March 9, 1943.” It was put up in time for International Women’s Day on March 8th.

I’m putting it after the jump–it has images of bloody fetuses and might not be safe for some workplaces.

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Z at It’s The Thought That Counts asked us to submit for commentary a product called the BeBand on sale at Target.  The Band is designed for pregnant women and women who’ve recently given birth:

(Note the carefully placed rings!  This model is no unwed mother!)

The box says that it will “cover unbuttoned pre-pregnancy jeans,” “hold up too-big maternity pants,” and allow you to “fit into pre-pregnancy pants sooner after giving birth”:

But it’s interesting that that’s the fine print.  The large print emphasizes beauty (“Be Belly Beautiful”) and the product is also sold under the name BellaBand.

Questions:

I’ve never been pregnant, is this a new product?  If so, is it a useful product or an invented need?

Even if this is a useful product, what do you think of the emphasis on beauty on the part of the marketers?

Is this not just another part of a demand for women to be freakin’ gorgeous at every part of their lifecycle?

NEW! (Mar. ’10): Along the same lines, R. Walker told us about a product called Shrinkx Hips:

For the low price of $54.99, “Shrinkx Hips provides constant, even pressure to gently guide hips back to their pre-pregnancy position” (if you wear it for 8 weeks). R.W. said it seems like a torture device, and I rather agree. But hey, apparently it makes you look like that model afterward, so what’s a little pain?

Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

p.j. sent in a link to the trailer for the movie “Demographic Winter,” which apparently educates us about the coming downfall of humanity, or at least humanity in developed nations:

Thus, gay rights, women’s rights, and non-marital sexuality are not just immoral, they’re literally threatening the very survival of the human species.

Well, maybe not the human species. Certain members of the human species, those that live mainly in Europe and the U.S. Of course, what we’re really getting at here, ultimately, is the fear that Whites in developed nations are not reproducing sufficiently. For another example of this, see our post on the Louisiana Senator who proposed paying “these people” and “illegal aliens” $1,000 to be sterilized.

In both cases, women’s reproductive capacity would ultimately be targeted as a means to a social goal–one group of women will need to give up their silly concerns about women’s equality and start having more babies (and gay men gotta start impregnating women!), while other women must be discouraged from having them. It’s a story we’ve heard many, many times before.

Gwen Sharp is an associate professor of sociology at Nevada State College. You can follow her on Twitter at @gwensharpnv.

Meg R. was signing up for the University of North Carolina, Wilmington health plan and noticed something interesting about the men’s and women’s health section of the benefits plan.  I’ll let you peruse and put my snarky comments afterwards:

Capture

Um, so apparently women do not have hearts or kidneys.  They only have targets for sexually transmitted infections and fetuses.  While men apparently need care for cancer and diabetes, women get only pap smears and urinary tract infections.  Oh, and FYI, if you’re a lady, “There are additional charges over and above the health fee.”  It’s amazing that we can even call the same number, given that our bodies are so fundamentally different from one another.

Wow, just wow.

Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

The Birth Whisperer (and just about everyplace else in the birthosphere) has published a sign posted in the Aspen Women’s Center in Utah, USA.

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Description: A teal sign on an office wall, reading:

Because the physicians at Aspen Women’s Center care about the quality of their patient’s[sic] deliveries and are very concerned about the welfare and health of your unborn child, we will not participate in: a “Birth Contract”, a Doulah[sic] Assisted, or a Bradley Method of delivery.

For those patients who are interested in such methods, please notify the nurse so that we may arrange transfer of your care.

What struck me first about this sign was, somehow, not the illegality of refusing the presence of a doula at a birth and refusing informed consent for obstetric procedures, but the massive, glaring, deliberate omission of the woman in that opening clause.

These doctors are not concerned with women. These doctors are not concerned with women’s welfare. These doctors are not concerned with women’s health. These doctors see “delivery” (not “birth”, note) as a transaction between fetus and doctor, in which a woman is no more than an annoying, obstructive, hostile incubator. These doctors insist, explicitly, upon their dominion over women’s bodies.

They demand that their power be absolute – to the point of forbidding women to educate themselves, to the point of isolating women from sources of support, to the point of refusing women the right to decline them free access to their vaginas. This is the very definition of “abuse”.

Sadly, as so many have noted, all they’re doing is making it explicit. They’re not the only doctors with this attitude, with these rules. The only difference between them and many others is that they declare their hatred for you up front, instead of springing it on you later.

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Lauredhel blogs about reproductive justice and medicine, among other things, at Hoyden about Town.

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