Howard County Greens Weblog

The Green Party Local in Howard County, Maryland.

12 June 2006

About the CDC 'Preconception Recommendations'

Back in April of this year, the CDC came out with a series of recommendations for 'preconception care' in Women. Last month these hit the blogosphere with a vengeance. As of the Assembly, last week, there still had not been a lot of discussion about them within the Green Party.

First of all, I suggest that you read them for yourself (linked from title of this article, above).

When looked at through the lens of the Green Party, the first thing which strikes me is the emphasis on low cost health care (which is a good thing), and they give a fair amount of mention to the fact that men are expected to participate in the planning of family size, and to take an active part in their children from conception onward. It emphasizes that pregnancies should be intended and planned. To me, these seem to be Green Friendly factors.

From a scientific point of view, it seems to under emphasize recent findings about paternal health and birth outcomes, but that would not be a major problem in and of itself.

As I mentioned above, last month this hit the blogs with explosive force, triggered by a Washington Post article which mentioned none of the Green friendly elements (above), but focused on the fact that the report suggested doctors think in terms of pre-pregnancy for all women between menopause and menarche.

Extreme? Perhaps it is, but it's not completely off the mark, because women are already feeling negative effects. One woman has already reported being unable to get the seizure medication she needs because of her neurologist's reaction to the recommendations. There is a similar story about antibiotics (a link I have lost). There was a huge outcry (from people who had not read the what the CDC actually published), followed by a rapid spate of retractions and apologies, which was itself triggered by a post at AIDS Combat Zone.

It's been a pretty complex situation. In the end, I am far from convinced that the CDC as a whole had political motivations in publishing the report, but I am not surprised to find that it has had some negative consequences, due, in part, to the political climate. In the end, does it matter if the doctor refused to give the patient the medication she needed because the CDC report changed the way (I gather) he saw her, or instilled in him the fear that the administration would penalize him if he allowed her to take teratagenic drugs during her child bearing years?

The Washington Post article had the positive effect of bringing the CDC's recommendations to the attention of many, but did so in a highly charged, negative, way. In reaction, readers took such a strong, negative point of view that they embarassed themselves. This may have promoted dialogue, but it started from such an extreme, polarized, position that real discussion is difficult.

As a third party, it is important that Greens realize that two sides are never enough for any serious question, and that dividing the world up into 'us' vs 'them' won't lead to solutions. Respect for diversity means being able to find and acknowledge places where we agree with our opponents, and disagree with our allies, both within the party and outside of it.

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