Lies, Damned Lies, and....

10 April 2001

Well, good. As usual, the newspaper is scaring me. This time the statistic was "half of all women in the U.S. have had at least one unplanned pregnancy." Half of all women. Half. Wow. Factor out those who had their birth control fail -- that is, people who were using birth control responsibly, in the manner in which it was designed, and had it fail anyway. Then factor out the people whose judgment may be legally at an impaired level on a daily basis: the people the courts deem too young to know better, or too mentally ill.

Then start considering what questions they asked. For example: if you're a strictly observant Catholic couple, and you weren't saying to each other, "honey, let's have a kid," but you were having sex without birth control and you knew the consequences, does that count? I think it does, but I don't think there are that many people in this country who listen to their religions if those religions forbid birth control. Father Greeley thinks that the biggest mistake the Vatican has made in this century was not coming out with an immediate statement on The Pill. I'm not sure I'll go with that, but it didn't help matters. (Lots of Catholic women went to their priests, who said, "If it was a sin, surely the Holy Father would have said something right away. Go ahead and use the birth control pills." This is a big factor in cafeteria Catholicism. But I digress.)

So that still leaves a ton of women who are old enough to know better and aren't doing anything about it. That still leaves a large number of grown women who are getting pregnant accidentally. The percentage of abortions and births out of wedlock doesn't account for this. (I hate the word "wedlock." Sounds too much like "head-lock" to me.) There are grown, married people who are going around getting pregnant accidentally. What did they think was going to happen?

And the phrase that chills me: "at least one." At least one? Like they didn't figure it out the first time. Like the reality of having a baby was not enough to make it all sink in. Wow.

Megan, if she's reading this, has been rolling her social worker eyes at me for quite some time. She knows these statistics firsthand. She has watched them come in with their passel o' kids. It just seems unreal to me. I knew that lots of the people I like were "surprises." But it looks like statistically I should revise that number upwards.

(I guess I'm a sick human being, because Megan rolling her social worker eyes at me brought to mind an image of social worker eyes coming at me like marbles, while Megan's colleagues staggered around looking Oedipal and Megan and I giggled. I don't even read King. But the heart of a small boy in a jar on his desk keeps popping back into my head.)

I know there are people I respect who have families in this fashion -- they know they're going to want another kid "sometime." A couple I deeply respect was talking with Mark and me, right after we got engaged, about kids and how many we were going to have. I said not more than three under extreme circumstances, and if #2 was triplets, we were giving one away. (People always think I'm joking when I say this.) And the male half of the couple laughed and said, "Well, sometimes things happen." Well. No. Not to me, they don't. They have medical technology to take care of that before it's an issue. Everybody makes mistakes. But to plan on them, and to think of kids that way...well, it's not my way, let's put it that way.

And the British Medical journal says that women, on the average, take twenty-five percent longer to come out of anesthetic fully than men do. This seems like a pretty major number to have just come up with now. (One presumes they're adjusting per pound of person and not just doping someone Michelle's size with the amount of anesthetic they'd give Timprov, and then saying, "Look, it takes her longer!") Every time I think we're making progress on medical testing equality, something really basic points out to me how far we have to go.

So for those of you who are wondering about the great dessert question from yesterday: double berry cobbler and chocolate turtle cheesecake. Doesn't that make you feel better? Me, too. I'm going to clean the kitchen now. Won't that be fun.

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