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Is she really linking to the O'Reilly Factor?

July 20, 2009

Normally, I can’t come within earshot of the O’Reilly Factor without experiencing a dangerously high spike in blood pressure.  But after being alerted to a segment from one of last month’s shows (courtesy of the Eco Child’s Play blog), I just couldn’t help but click the play button and watch Dick Morris waxing whiney not only about Obama’s health care reform plan but also about some bizarro future in which women are going to be forced (quel horreur!) to give birth vaginally:

In case you can’t make it all the way to the five-minute mark, here’s what Mr. Morris (who really lives up to his name) is concerned about when it comes to those of us who have vaginas and can procreate:

“…right now the government is telling us, ‘Cut back on cesarean sections.  Go through natural childbirth!’  To lower costs!.'”

Motherf*cker, what do you know about birth?!

(And for those of you who did not watch the clip, Mr. Morris utters the previous statements with lots of melodramatic shock and horror.)

First, cutting back on costs is not the only benefit of reducing the cesarean rate (although if that’s what’ll make knife-happy OBs scale back their cesarean rates, then I’m all for casting the conversation in terms of economics.  I’m pragmatic like that.).

For one, cesarean sections carry with them a number of risks for mothers, including (but not limited to) injury to other organs, hemmorhage, infection, and even death.  Furthermore, each cesarean increases a mother’s risk of serious problems in future pregnancies–problems such as placenta previa, placenta accreta, placenta percreta, and secondary infertility.  So, Mr. Morris, these cesarean complications are all good reasons to reduce the cesarean rate.

In addition, ain’t no one bein’ forced to go through natural childbirth in this country.  Hell, I bet we’d be hard-pressed to find many women who are currently experiencing natural childbirth at most hospitals at this very moment, what with all the inductions and augmentations and interventions women undergo these days.

But, if more women were encouraged to experience natural childbirth–and encouraged in a way that is based on evidence and compassion and respect for women’s bodies and autonomies–then I bet we’d not only cut down on health care costs but also improve maternal and neonatal health and women’s confidence in their bodies.  See, Mr. Morris, it’s not such a bad idea.

(Of course, I’m sure that Mr. Morris meant “vaginal” childbirth when he used the term ‘natural,’ and a continued conversation about his and others’ avoidance of the word ‘vaginal’ when describing birth will have to wait for another day.)

Finally, the World Health Organization currently recommends that the cesarean rate for any country should be no more than 15%.  But the US cesarean rate was 31.8% in 2007.  And the rate itself doesn’t seem to be doing moms and babies any favors.  (Note: that is much different from stating that cesareans don’t do moms and babies any favors.)

As Louise Marie Roth writes in the Huffington Post:

It would be understandable that Americans are worried about the rationing of health care, except that private insurance companies do a lot more rationing of care than single-payer systems in other developed countries. But it’s especially interested that Morris made his false claims about childbirth, since American maternity care is unnecessarily expensive and has very poor results. The U.S. pays twice as much per birth as other developed nations. The American infant mortality rate is the second-worst in the developed world and ranks 37th in the world, behind South Korea and Cuba. Maternal mortality rates have been rising since 1982 in the U.S., which currently ranks 41st among 171 countries. In August 2007, the CDC reported that the number of women dying in childbirth in the United States increased in 2004 for the first time in decades. National data on infant mortality rates in the U.S. also reveal an increase in 2005 and no improvement since 2000. In fact, countries with universal health care systems have much better maternal and infant outcomes, as well as lower cesarean rates.

And since the U.S.’s rankings for maternal and neonatal health also fall well behind countries with much lower cesarean rates (and a midwifery model of care, for that matter, but that’s a whole ‘nother ball o’ wax), one can’t exactly argue that our cesarean rates are nonetheless producing “better outcomes.”

So, Mr’s O’Reilly and Morris, there are many fabulous reasons to reduce the cesarean rate.

And it’s something to celebrate: not to fear.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 21, 2009 8:43 am

    Thanks for linking to my ECP blog! I like the title. When I posted the link on Twitter, I think I said something like, “Just linking to an O’Reilly clip makes me feel dirty.”

    Interestingly, I just approved a comment on Eco Child’s Play on a blog I wrote about the “natural” C-section. It’s a mind-boggling quote to me:
    “I am so thankful to live in a time where elective c-sections are an option (and bottle feeding over breast-feeding, and any other non-traditional method of childbirth/childrearing).
    A baby is a blessing NO MATTER how he/she is brought into the world!
    Its time to get over the “Im better than you because I used my vagina to give birth” or “c-sections are ok, but only under these medical complications that I have decided on” stigmas!
    Thats my little rant 🙂 I am excited for my elective scheduled c-section knowing that it will be done in calm, stress-free environment and in about an hour or less.”
    That comment is here: http://ecochildsplay.com/2009/04/10/birth-by-surgery-can-the-c-section-be-natural/#comment-66462

    Whenever I encounter people who are excited about their elective C-sections, I am worried. The last time it happened, I was a week away from my due date with my second son! Nothing like being told there was a “better way” when I took less than 2.5 hours to give birth to him (no tearing) and a good, quick recovery. We simply don’t know unless we try!

  2. BirthingBeautifulIdeas permalink*
    July 21, 2009 10:47 pm

    Thanks for stopping by to check out this post, Cate!

    And wow, that comment just…amazes me. It’s funny how people turn *facts* such as “vaginal birth is (generally) best for moms and babies” into “women who have vaginal births are better than women who have c-sections.” Or “breastfeeding is best for babies” into “women who breastfeed are better than women who bottle-feed.”

    Anyway, I truly, sincerely hope that the mom has a calm and stress-free cesarean *recovery*. I’ve experienced both cesarean and vaginal birth recovery, and I’d take the latter *any* day!

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