A friend was telling me about her visit to the nurse practitioner the other day, while requesting a refill of birth control pills (which it is worth noting has a yearly check-up mandate in order to make sure women are getting their pap smears, by the way...fascinating secondary by-product of pharma regulation -- the pairing of one thing to another, related but not intrinisically necessary thing).** The nurse practitioner took the opportunity to discuss with her the long-term reproductive planning things that she might want to consider. As in, you are a reproducing-age woman, having sex, perhaps you would like me to advise you on the next ten years or so of your fertility? Now...this is all well and fine if my dear friend had come in with the intention of discussing her long-term fertility, baby-planning strategies, etc. However, coming in for birth control pills does not mean the patient is interested in discussing her, yawn, hetero-normative reproductive future. The presumption that my delightful spitfire friend even wants to reproduce (and oh, by the way, contraception is intended to prevent said procreation) is really tiresome. I think next time she ought to explain that she's getting the pill because her girlfriend thinks she's too moody without it....
Similarly, my inbox received its daily Kaiser Women's Health Report (now owned/run by some other outsource org), announcing that the FDA is proposing new regulations for risks to pregnant women and fetuses. And so, the female body continues to be a special category of human, and the pregnant body in particular.
Or as I wrote to a fellow anthropologist friend:
risks! risks! risks for pregnant ladies!-----------
sorry -- I get so irritated by the morning news and updates. Also, as my friend XX bemoaned to me, it is quite tiresome to find one's body so perpetually MONITORED. though, I wish they'd get their shit together a wee bit more and monitor ALL drugs, not just ones that go in lady-bodies.
** It is logical that women who are a) sexually active and b) sexually active presumably without condoms should be receiving regular Pap smears. The cervix is a very delicate part of the body and susceptible to HPV and therefore potentially cervical cancer. I just find it useful to note the ways in which public health and medicine have neatly tied practices to pharma. For example, as I discovered, in Morocco, you can walk into a pharmacy and request the birth control pills you want. No doctor's note. No pelvic exam. This may not be a completely good thing, but it is kind of odd, don't you think, that in a Muslim country, I felt more liberated in that respect than I would in the States. Think of the money saved, the time saved, the middle-men taken out of the equation (medical staff, physicians, insurance) but also, the personal responsiblity attributed to any adverse outcomes if I had taken the wrong pills, or had a bad reaction.