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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Maybe I should just stop talking about abortion; after all, I'M postmenopausal and it's not MY problem anymore
Posted by Jill | 4:47 AM
Being disheartened is such a usual state of mind for me these days it's surprising that this one gets to me so much. But I decided to do a quick spin around some of the alpha dogs of the so-called feminist blogosphere to see what is being said about the USPSTF's new mammography guidelines. You know what I saw?

Almost nothing.

I guess that when you're young (instead of old like me and leaving the house between 6-7 AM and getting home at 6:30 PM, then doing 2-3 hours of work every night and all weekend), you just don't have TIME to handle TWO issues about women's health care. After all, there's advertising to talk about, and the Sarah Palin Newsweek cover, and when combined with the Stupak amendment, well, the poor dears just have to pick and choose.

Kudos to Nordette at Whose shoes are these anyway? and jluther over at Feministing for actually realizing that they too will be over 40 someday and that this will become their problem.

Other than that? Crickets.

I'm not going to shame the so-called feminist bloggers who have chosen instead to write about divas with no pants or webcomics or the Sarah Palin Newsweek cover or why there are no women in Pirate Radio by naming them publicly. They know who they are. And to those bloggers, I have just one question: Why do you think this is not your issue?

Pregnancy hasn't been a concern for me since 2005, but I still write about the importance of access to abortion and contraception. Reproduction is an issue in my PAST, that I will never have to worry about again, at least not in this particular incarnation. But for the feminist bloggers in their twenties and thirties, this latest assault on women's health care is in YOUR FUTURE -- and that future is coming faster than you can even imagine.

So why the silence? Is it because this plan to ration health care services to older women is coming directly from Barack Obama's Department of Health and Human Services and you're afraid to criticize it? Is this what we've come to, selling our own sisters down the river rather than criticize a Democratic president?

I want to know: Am I wrong? I realize that with 20 minutes to blog this morning after I head in for a 7 AM meeting I don't have time to look at ALL the feminist blogs. But where is the feminist blogosphere on this? If you're a feminist blogger and you're writing about this, or if you're just a blog reader and you find a post about the new mammography guidelines, post the links in the comments. I'll bump them up into their own post tomorrow along with my crow eating (but the consumption of the bird only happens if the posts are timestamped BEFORE this one). And if I don't hear from anyone, I'm done writing about abortion. After all, it isn't MY concern, right?

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Anonymous tata said...
I have been kind of offline for a few days, so I'm not up on what people are writing. One thing that interested me: the American Cancer Society responded with the press release version of "This administration is SO GROUNDED."

Anonymous Skepticat said...
Spot on.

Blogger Barry said...
I was never really worried about "death panels." "Mammography panels" seem quite likely, however.

Blogger Interrobang said...
The best posts I've seen on this were by a surgical oncologist who specialises in breast cancer; that's probably as it should be, actually. Rethinking cancer screening? and Really rethinking breast cancer screening.

In summary:

These recommendations are only aimed at asymptomatic women between the ages of 40 and 50 who have no prior family history, genetic markers, or other indicators of breast cancer.

The recommendations don't change the current standard of care.

The new guidelines are based on studies showing that in order for preventive screening for women who otherwise have no cancer context to save one life, 1904 women need to be scanned, and that the risk reduction isn't outweighed by the harm of overdiagnosis (false positive, tumour that will not progress enough to kill the patient before the patient dies of natural causes anyway, etc.) and overtreatment.

Many countries in Europe already use similar guidelines.

Canada uses a recommendation for two-year mammograms for women between the ages of 50 and 69, which is ten years older than the one-year schedule the US uses, and far as I know, we're not dropping like flies from breast cancer up here...

Blogger Carol Ann said...
I believe the new guidelines are part of a general move toward "evidence-based medicine." Remember how it was the standard of care for decades to give menopausal women hormones to avoid all sorts of bad old-women things? But for most women the treatment turned out to do more harm than good? Some women do still take hormone replacement therapy, but only those for whom it is indicated by symptoms, not age.

These new recommendation isn't about *denying* women care; this is about trying to determine what is the *best* care.

Anonymous tata said...
What Carol Ann sidesteps is any reference to the timing of this study and the uses to which it might be put. A person would have to be truly stupid or an insurance industry troll to believe the recommendation would be put to any use but to deny women care.

Blogger Carol Ann said...
"Care" which does not save lives or preserve health, but which *does* cost money and causes harm in unnecessary procedures is "care" we don't need. What we *do* need is the best science to determine what works and what doesn't. The timing of the release of the report is unfortunate, but the research has been in the works for a long while.

I am not stupid or an insurance industry troll. I work in biomedical research, and I simply believe we should look at the facts to determine policy.

Blogger Serr8d said...
Maybe you should speak of your unborn grandchildren. With you as mother, your girl-children may not give you any. That you deserve, anyways.

Blogger Jill said...
Carol Ann: I work in biomedical research too. And I don't rule out that the recommendations are about "good science". I just find the timing of this recommendation peculiar. Given that the health care "reform" winding its way through the Senate seems to short-change women's health care every step of the way, from abortion funding to no mandates for pap smears or other procedures specific to women's health, the timing is peculiar.

As for you, Serr8d, I chose not to have children. You may say that I would be a terrible mother, and you may be right. I can tell you that a fucked-up family background, however resolved those issues might be now, creates people who are not cut out to be parents. Would that others who were not cut out to be parents had the same self-knowledge that I do, instead of popping out kids and ruining their lives.

Blogger Serr8d said...
Oh. Sorry you didn't have kids. We had one, which was a choice we made based on several criteria; not the least a consideration of current population numbers, thoughtful contemplation of where the world might be heading and of course our (then) financial abilities. There are no regrets.

I've admired the Chinese for making what might be the most important political decision in our lifetimes: the one child per family mandate. A shame the ramifications of that are that the 'solutions' are applied so harshly. Girl children don't have a chance.

My disagreement with abortion is that I do believe that, after conception, there's a real, live human life involved. Every effort should be made (within reason of course) to bring that child to term.

I also believe that if a woman chooses to have an abortion, a result of that decision should be her permanent and irreversible sterilization. Maybe only then will she realize what sort of dire choice she's making.

Blogger Suzan said...
Well, you've called a few of them out of the woodwork, Jill. Good on you.

It's a serious conversation that we as a nation need to have - and are not having at the hands of this anti-national-health-care-coverage crowd.

As Hubbell said, "It will occur one day in the future . . . when some businessman decides he'll make more profit by doing the right thing to benefit the workers than he would have made without, and eventually all the rest will jump on the bandwagon." (I'm paraphrasing this great rant, of course.)

My real concerns now are that the country is marching off the cliff, led by these anti-women forces, who are using the Impalin' brigades to seal thinking women's fates. Many are so busy responding to the outrageousities occurring in her wake, that the real threats to their livelihoods pass them by like the proverbial ships in the night.

Wish I could be more positive, but the economic news doesn't allow me time to indulge in these trivialities - and in a reasonable season this wouldn't be among the trivial at all. (I, personally, have already gone over the side.)

And young women had better figure out how to fight for their interests, hadn't they?

We fought for ours (and everyone's).


Blogger Batocchio said...
I also believe that if a woman chooses to have an abortion, a result of that decision should be her permanent and irreversible sterilization. Maybe only then will she realize what sort of dire choice she's making.

Oh, for the good ol' days, when the eugenics movement was fueled more from bigotry than by punitive, vengeful, self-righteous urges! Somehow, I'm reminded of a certain Molly Ivins line...

Anonymous Lynn Hayes said...
I'm on the wrong side of the argument on this site, but I have thought for some time that yearly mammography did more harm than good: http://blog.beliefnet.com/astrologicalmusings/2007/05/for-women-only.html