Pregnancy

Amazing Da Vinci Drawings of a Fetus in the Womb

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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.

Views_of_a_Foetus_in_the_Womb

Photos by Luc Viatour via Wikimedia Commons.

Scientists Discover Children’s Cells Living in Mothers’ Brains

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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”

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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.

Rush Limbaugh Apologizes, Too Little, Too Late

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It was too late for Rush Limbaugh. Maybe it was the petition we posted here in Femination, maybe it was the brave and awe-inspiring media backlash, Obama’s condemnation, or the six advertisers that pulled out of his program, but Limbaugh, four days after his attack, finally apologized, much to our pleasure. But his apology sucked, and kept the same incorrect rhetoric that birth control covered by health insurance is all about “getting paid to have sex.” Here is an excerpt from his website:

“I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation. I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke.

I think it is absolutely absurd that during these very serious political times, we are discussing personal sexual recreational activities before members of Congress. I personally do not agree that American citizens should pay for these social activities. … Will we be debating if taxpayers should pay for new sneakers for all students that are interested in running to keep fit? In my monologue, I posited that it is not our business whatsoever to know what is going on in anyone’s bedroom nor do I think it is a topic that should reach a Presidential level.

My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir. I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices.”

If we can just take a minute of silence to reflect on the irony. He did not mean a personal attack? What else do you expect if you call someone a “slut”? I also find it deliciously entertaining that he apparently believes that “it is not our business whatsoever to know what is going on in anyone’s bedroom,” yet that is exactly what Republicans are trying to do. In having to read his insulting and absurd remarks some consistency would be appreciated.

What is great though, is to see everyone talking about this. Rachel Maddow does a great summary of the issue, and points out that what seems to be at the heart of the matter here is that those opposed to birth control don’t really know what it is. Contrary to Rush’s idiocy, as Maureen Dowd says, “Mother Jones pointed out that Rush, a Viagra fan, might be confusing the little blue pill and birth control, since “when and how much sex you have is unrelated to the amount of birth control you need.”

Joan Walsh writes about it in Salon.com, where she “thanks” these conservative ideologues who have galvanized the women vote. Three New York Times columnists wrote about it today, Nicholas Kristof (though that isn’t surprising; it was actually taking him a while), Maureen Dowd, and Charles Blow.

In his aptly named column, “When States Abuse Women”, Kristof says Alabama, Kentucky, Rhode Island and Mississippi are considering legislation similar to the worst one in Texas, where women who want an abortion have to get an infamous transvaginal ultrasound, have to look at it, do a big list of other humiliating stuff, then return 24 hours later to actually get the abortion.

Newt Gingrich.
Former U.S. Representative and Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-GA). Oil on canvas. Credit: Wikipedia.

Dowd performs some needed fact-checking, pointing out how Limbaugh “said insuring contraception would represent another ‘welfare entitlement,’ which is wrong — tax dollars would not provide the benefit, employers and insurance companies would.” But this statement of hers is simply beautiful:

Rush and Newt Gingrich can play the studs, marrying again and again until they find the perfect adoring young wife. But women pressing for health care rights are denigrated as sluts.”

Of course, this is not restricted to Rush Limbaugh; this exploded like it did because he has long been embraced by the Republican party as their “uncensored spokesman”, as the guy who has the guts to say what they are all thinking or intending with their legislation.

It also speaks to how society at large views these words and reacts to them. Fluke herself commented on this, as reported on NPR, saying that “she was stunned by the insult, but primarily because Limbaugh’s comments still were considered acceptable discourse in certain sectors of society.” As a society we are still fine with calling women a “bitch” as a general insult, even when we mean that person to be an asshole, an idiot, bigoted, ridiculous, etc. They’re all bitches anyway, right? No, not OK. I’ve used it in the past, to for example, refer to Sarah Palin, but I know better now. If you’ve ever wondered whether “bitch” is OK to use, it’s probably not.

Stephen Colbert Reveals His Genius Plan to Start Giving Men Transurethral Ultrasounds

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Stephen Colbert in New York City at Border's.
Stephen Colbert in New York City at Border's. Credit: Wikipedia.

From Jezebel: Stephen Colbert Reveals His Genius Plan to Start Giving Men Transurethral Ultrasounds

By Juliana Jiménez

For all the fans of the transvaginal ultrasound bill, we bring you the sequel, surely it will be just as popular!

Although we do know these two don’t require the same amount of discomfort… Maybe the equivalent would be inserting your penis in a cold, metallic, all-seeying robot vagina? Yes, that seems more adequate.

Yet, it’s not quite the same… there is something inherently “invasive” in how women experience sex, as Simone de Beauvoir says in The Second Sex, because a foreign object is intruding into your very being, whereas for the man the penis is an extension of the being.

In any case, Colbert is spot on about the whole “potential human being” with the sperm and the male birth control pill. And let’s remember gals and guys, it’s been “50 YEARS” since the female birth control pill was made available to the public. And we’re still talking about it like it’s a huge deal. Like it’s still the 1950s.

It’s Spreading (heh): Pennsylvania Ultrasound Bill

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Bob McDonell, Gov. of Virginia at CPAC.
Bob McDonell, Gov. of Virginia at CPAC.

By Juliana Jiménez

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell backed off on his controversial transvaginal ultrasound bill, taking out the “transvaginal” and leaving in the “ultrasound”, thanks to enraged liberal media pundits, and others like Amy Poehler and Seth Myers on SNL.

This bill will fortunately be rewritten, but in the meantime, while we were all busy catching our breath, Virginia will introduce a personhood bill much like Mississippi (not the most progressive state out there) rejected in November 2011.

And it’s not alone. According to the Guttmacher Institute, seven states already demand pre-abortion ultrasounds, “and since the vast majority of abortions occur in the first 12 weeks,” Salon.com reports, “that means women are already being subjected to transvaginal wands right now.”

Texas is the champion though, being the only state where the ultrasound is “required for each abortion; the provider must display and describe the image.”

As if the bills, or anything that Santorum says, weren’t enough to make you gag, media idiots did their part. CNN commentator Dana Loesch said that if you’ve consented to sex, then state-sponsored rape should be OK. So basically rape is only wrong for virgins. And if you’ve had sex then you are OK to be raped. Has she had sex before? Is she OK with being raped? How is she still employed? Same question goes for the unnamed “Virginia Republican who supports the procedure [who] said much the same thing, telling a Democratic colleague that women had already consented to being ‘vaginally penetrated when they got pregnant,’ according to Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick.” Yes, these are the people representing us in Congress. Much like this Funny or Die all-male expert panel on birth control. I feel like I’ll laugh or die soon myself, as a matter of fact.

It seems really amazing that this should be an issue us 20-somethings would have to fight about in our lifetime, like Virginia  Democrat delegate Kaye Kory commented on MSNBC’s Politics Nation in a discussion with Salon.com‘s editor at large, Joan Walsh. But the facts are grim. According to the Washington Times:

Last year, five states – Alabama, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas and Oklahoma – joined Nebraska by passing laws that ban abortion after 20 weeks, on the premise that fetuses can feel pain. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, vetoed similar legislation, calling the idea that a fetus can feel pain at that point a “spurious assertion.” Nebraska approved the first “fetal pain” law in 2010.”

Pennsylvania also introduced a bill that’s even worse than Virginia’s. The Raw Story reports that

the FDA already recommends that medically unnecessary ultrasounds should be discouraged, since the long-term effects of radiation from the ultrasound machines are unknown.”

The state’s ACLU wrote an awesome mock open letter to the Virginia legislature titled “Yes, Virginia, there is a state more demeaning to women than you.” Here are some great excerpts:

Our bill FORCES the doctor to turn the ultrasound screen towards the woman’s face. Don’t worry – we avoided constitutional meddling by “allowing her” to look away. I heard you only give ‘the opportunity’ to view the ultrasound image. LAME!

LOVE the “free ultrasound providers” bit! We did that, too, so now we can funnel women to those so-called “crisis pregnancy centers” where they can be fed state-funded, unregulated misinformation. We don’t even require that ultrasound providers have any training!

Oh, and you’ll love the part about the printouts – listen to this. We’re going to make the woman take TWO prints with her – one for her scrapbook, and the other one SHE has to bring to the doctor performing the abortion (if she hasn’t been shamed out of it at this point! LOL).

And come on now, only civil penalties? Our bill includes civil and criminal penalties for doctors and patients who dare defy our legislating of medicine.

Nice try, Virginia. But you’ve got nothin’ on Pennsylvania.

Your partner in crime,

Pennsylvania

Virtue, Liberty and Independence (Unless you’re a woman)