Whoever said you can't be a little bit pregnant never reckoned with the can-do spirit of the Bush administration. As the Washington Post reports:
New federal guidelines ask all females capable of conceiving a baby to treat themselves — and to be treated by the health care system — as pre-pregnant, regardless of whether they plan to get pregnant anytime soon.
Among other things, this means all women between first menstrual period and menopause should take folic acid supplements, refrain from smoking, maintain a healthy weight and keep chronic conditions such as asthma and diabetes under control.
While most of these recommendations are well known to women who are pregnant or seeking to get pregnant, experts say it's important that women follow this advice throughout their reproductive lives, because about half of pregnancies are unplanned and so much damage can be done to a fetus between conception and the time the pregnancy is confirmed.
The recommendations aim to “increase public awareness of the importance of preconception health” and emphasize the “importance of managing risk factors prior to pregnancy,” said Samuel Posner, co-author of the guidelines and associate director for science in the division of reproductive health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which issued the report.
So, the Bush administration, whose major public health initiative so far has been the disastrous Medicare Part D, is willing to take an interest in women's health so long as the women realize they are just fetus incubators. And chaste fetus incubators, at that– since the administration is opposed to the use of the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine. HPV, which is sexually transmitted, is the leading cause of cervical cancer in American women. The vaccine, if given before the patient becomes sexually active, is 100% effective. And as Elaine Cassel points out,
Half of cervical cancer cases occur in women between the ages of 35 and 55 – meaning that statistically, the overwhelming majority of patients will be mothers. Also, the virus can be transmitted from mother to infant during childbirth.
But Christian fundametalists inside and outside the Bush administration are opposed to the vaccine, bizarrely believing that removing the threat of HPV-induced cervical cancer will encourage promiscuity. And women after all, shouldn't be having sex, unless it is to realize their pre-pregnant potential.