Views of a Fetus in the Womb

Amazing Da Vinci Drawings of a Fetus in the Womb

By Juliana Jiménez Jaramillo

These drawings by Leonardo Da Vinci of a fetus in the womb continue to amaze more than 500 years after he made them. They were made, with astonishing detail and care, with pen over red chalk, between 1510 and 1513.

Da Vinci studies of embryos

Da Vinci studies of embryos.

The illustration above details a fetus around 4 months old.


Photos by Luc Viatour via Wikimedia Commons.

Lifesized 8 week-old fetus

Scientists Discover Children’s Cells Living in Mothers’ Brains

By Juliana Jiménez Jaramillo

Lifesized 8 week-old fetus

Lifesized model of an 8 week-old fetus. Via Wikimedia Commons.

The connection between mother and child is physical and psychological, and may be even deeper than previously thought. According to Scientific American, “cells may migrate through the placenta between the mother and the fetus, taking up residence in many organs of the body including the lung, thyroid muscle, liver, heart, kidney and skin” — and apparently, the brain. The article is excellent, though this part is confusing:

“They examined the brains of deceased women for the presence of cells containing the male “Y” chromosome. They found such cells in more than 60 percent of the brains and in multiple brain regions. Since Alzheimer’s disease is more common in women who have had multiple pregnancies, they suspected that the number of fetal cells would be greater in women with AD compared to those who had no evidence for neurological disease. The results were precisely the opposite: there were fewer fetal-derived cells in women with Alzheimer’s. The reasons are unclear.”

So, pregnancies give you more fetal-cells-in-the-brain, and multiple pregnancies give you more Alzheimer’s, but Alzheimer’s women had less fetal-cells-in-the-brain. Don’t get it.

Turns out the paper is pretty weak in terms of Alzheimer’s findings, which would need to be replicated and explained. The interesting thing is that this is the first time male DNA has been found in the human female brain. Amanda Schaffer’s take on the paper and some related work at the Daily Beast explores these topics thoroughly.

“The fetus has a vested interest in keeping its mother alive,” not only while it’s in utero but for many years to come. It could be that “the fetus is giving these cells to its mother to promote her healing.” I found this really cute, in a nature-isn’t-cute-it-just-wants-you-to-survive kind of way (maybe the fact that I find it cute is in itself evolutionarily cute?).

Also, no female cells in male brains? From their mother when they were fetuses? Has this been studied and not found, or just not studied at all?

Y chromosome markers are easier to spot in women; this shows that the DNA wasn’t the woman’s own and would have to come from a male fetus. And apparently researchers have found maternal DNA all over fetuses’ bodies, so in theory, men could have cells from mom lodged in their brains as well. All of it sounds insane.

WaPo: Consider the case of the angry white woman

Cartoon published in the Melbourne version of ...

Cartoon published in 14/04/1887: "Some foolish people imagine our ladies will neglect their family duties. Quite a mistake. 3 am. That dear good old creature, Mr. Speaker, is kind enough to take the blessed infant while the Hon. Member addresses the house." (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WaPo: Consider the case of the angry white woman

From Washington Post, Comment by Juliana Jimenez

This is one amazing article on the intersection of sexism and racism. Damn. Impressed. Goes beyond the reporting.

Some commenters, men of course, were outraged, saying that “there’s not assault on women’s rights.” It’s actually kind of funny that these men go to forums like these, bristling with male entitlement, and end up showing off their willful ignorance. Have they not been following the news? Do these men have any idea what it’s like to not be able to decide when and how you have a baby, a.k.a when your body, your mind and the rest of your life are completely transformed from that moment on? Oh, they don’t? Ok, thought so. Now, shush.

More analysis on this issue to come later.

‘Semen Personhood': Fighting Back the GOP’s War on Women

Republican logo, "GOP"

Image via Wikipedia

By Juliana Jiménez

Yeah, ladies (and men), this is what I’m talking about! What a better way to spend this endless 24 hours of cheesyness that is International Women’s Day than reading about outlawing vasectomies, mandatory rectal exams for guys into Viagra, semen personhood. Yes, Republicans and minions, this is just how ridiculous your own bills are.

Mother Jones reports on several satirical laws that have been introduced in Congress to highlight all the regulating of women’s bodies that has been going on in Congress these days. Why not regulate men’s bodies, men’s sexuality? They are the ones that are always thinking about how to get you to have sex with them, right, everybody knows that? Stereotype? Myth? How come men are always making fun of women for having all these feelings, for not being like them and just having sex and getting over it? That’s right, guys, don’t complain if you are the ones who perpetuate your own negative stereotypes – it comes with the whole package.

Well, apparently it’s men who “want to have all this sex”, in the wise words of Master Cheeseball Rush Limbaugh, so bills that say health insurance should cover Viagra and the like are what we should be talking about. Stephen Colbert started it with his transurethral ultrasounds, but these people took it to another level of awesome.

An excerpt from MJ:

“Oklahoma: When a zygote-personhood bill came before the state Senate, Sen. Constance Johnson penned an amendment declaring that ejaculating anywhere outside a woman’s vagina constitutes ‘an action against an unborn child.'”

Not digging the GOP’s War on Women? March it out of your system, April 28, 2012.

The End of Rush Limbaugh – 45 Advertisers Leave Show

Rush Limbaugh - Caricature

Rush Limbaugh - Caricature. Credit: DonkeyHotey.

By Juliana Jiménez

UPDATE: As of today, 45 advertisers have dropped Rush Limbaugh’s show, and there might be more in sight, according to the Rachel Maddow Show blog. And as if his lame “apology” wasn’t enough, he keeps burying himself deeper in national contempt by attacking a young author – you guessed, it, a woman – by calling her a

“babe”, an “authorette” and, more broadly, one of “these single white women.”

and then telling his audience,

“What is it with all of these young single white women, overeducated — doesn’t mean intelligent.”

Well, gee, Rush, thanks, overeducated — I’m blushing already. I don’t know what you meant, but I’ll take it as a compliment. At least it’s quite a step up from “slut”, “prostitute” or “feminazi”.

And then Bill Maher started defending him, sort of, saying liberals look petty by not rushing to forgive him, according to Slate. I think he was just getting nervous when the conversation started getting semi-deep and people started to wonder about him calling Sarah Palin a “cunt”. Sorry, Bill, it’s all fair game now.

National March Against The War On Women: 4/28/12

Early 1900s postcard on birth control: "And the villain still pursues her".

Early 1900s postcard on birth control: "And the villain still pursues her". Credit: Wikipedia Commons.

From The ObamaCrat:

United Against The War On Women:

Has local, national and international Facebook group links with dates and places. Check it out! We’ll keep an eye out for this event as well.

By Juliana Jiménez

Mother Jones: “Dear Rush Limbaugh: Birth Control Doesn’t Work Like Viagra”

Cover of Birth Control Review magazine

Cover of Birth Control Review magazine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mother Jones: “Dear Rush Limbaugh: Birth Control Doesn’t Work Like Viagra”

By Juliana Jiménez

We hinted at this in a previous post, the embarrassing fact that Rush Limbaugh does not understand how birth control works, and as Rachel Maddow points out, neither does Mitt Romney.

What is also particularly painful is the awful irony, the long-standing injustice, that Viagra has long been covered by health insurance, while birth control is not.

Yes, let’s all have more sex without birth control, because clearly the earth is running out of people.