Skepchick Quickies 7.31


Amanda works in healthcare, is a loudmouthed feminist, and proud supporter of the Oxford comma.

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  1. I saw that Orly Taitz interview, she is one loca chica! This whole birther movement thing is really getting under my skin. Talk about detracting from real issues! Why does it seem that the proportion of fucktards is steadily increasing? Between the birthers, anti-vaxers, creationists, and general religious zealots it seems like rational people are being outnumbered and shouted down. Or maybe I am just more aware of them than ever before. Either way it is stressing me out.

  2. re: Orly Taitz
    I just read my copy of the Constitution. Not only does it say that the President must be a natural born citizen, but evidently s/he must have been born with the last name “Durnett”. Wow. I never really knew. I’ll call my brother and sister see if one of them wants the job.

    Really sorry, Barack. I was pulling for you.

  3. Biologically speaking, pheremones are interesting, but cosmetically, they might work great for other animals, but it’s a waste of effort with humans. Our sense of smell is too weak for it to work on anything but an extremely subtle subconscious level, and we’re intelligent enough to override our base instincts. Your date is not going to loose all self-control and start making out with you if you’re being a douchebag.

    And the last I heard, I don’t think they’ve isolated the necessary pheremones in humans. Maybe a few functional ones, but nothing even remotely substantial for this application; Just an outdated theory that “sweat would make people horny if it didn’t smell so stinky.” At this point, I get the impression that they’re just throwing out combination of scents and chemical variations. I would suggest that test subjects are reacting to scents that are different and/or interesting, rather than arousing.

  4. @marilove: I have to think that there is more to the NJ article than we’ve seen so far. I have no problem believing that one DYFS employee made a stupid call. I can even see the DYFS backing up an employee’s stupid call, but when an impartial third party (the judge in this case) rules against the parents, I have to ask what is missing from this picture.

    Hopefully more will come out in the appeal.

    The additional travesty is that it has taken 2 years just to get to this part of the trial.

  5. I read the court document and there was definitely more to just refusing a C-Section. The woman was 42 and had a history of mental issues to begin with. I think when you scare a room full of doctors, lawyers, psychologists and judges into thinking you might be a danger to your own babies life then it might be a good idea to turn the skepticism around for a moment and question the counter intuitive perspective.

    Who are we going to trust here is what it comes down to? Obviously they don’t just take away babies because of refusing C-Sections… at what point do we actually trust the trained professionals with lives?

    This article first came to me via a group of people who are anti-vaxxers, home birthers, homeopathists and all sorts of health related woo. I’m not saying they can’t be right about this but when you read the court document there’s clearly a lot more going on than just what the FUD is spewing.

    We really should be thinking about this from the babies perspective not the mothers… what if they babies life really is in danger with this woman? What sort of information would you need to be convinced of that? If you can’t trust the people who’s job it is to make those decisions then can you actually protect anyone?

  6. @durnett: Read the comments, specifally the last one (so far) that states that a woman in child birth should never be judged for what happens during that child birth. Period.

    There may be other “factors” but the fact is, the child birth was part of that and it never should have been.

    Women can’t do anything in regards to reproduction without being watched like a fucking hawk and I’m getting tired of it. I can’t even go get birth control without being judged to high hell.

  7. @justncase80: “If you can’t trust the people who’s job it is to make those decisions then can you actually protect anyone?”

    You do realize that many women can’t, right? Because forced c-sections are nothing new. Women don’t really have many decisions when it comes to reproduction rights and child birth. We’re told left and right what to do, and if we don’t, we’re judged heavily for it.

  8. @marilove:

    You make a good point here. My wife is a labor and delivery nurse, and comes home with stories about doctors inducing labor so they can get home earlier than the baby would come, or before a holiday weekend, etc. It’s a bit sickening to think that they can be so emotionally detached from something so important to the same woman they have been interacting with for the past nine months or so.

  9. @marilove: There are lots of people who want to exempt someone from being “judged for what happens during” some event. I’ve heard people tell me that we can’t judge soldiers or politicians or police officers or teachers or protesters or victims of crimes for the actions that they take or don’t take. And I don’t agree. We make allowances for extraordinary circumstances. Our ability to do that is built into our judicial system and into our culture, but we don’t give anyone a free pass. Ever.

    I am not saying that everything is great with the New Jersey case. I’m not saying that we should watch women during child birth and use that one snapshot of their lives to determine how well they can raise children. I am saying that I don’t think that we have all of the facts.

  10. @OneHandClapping said:

    It’s a bit sickening to think that they can be so emotionally detached from something so important to the same woman they have been interacting with for the past nine months or so.

    I think I hear what I think you think you’re saying, but really, would you want a doctor to be emotionally attached or involved in any way whatsoever with a patient?

    I would think that a doctor’s lack of emotional attatchment is critical and essential to good, objective, science-based care.

  11. After a fashion, yes, I would want them to be emotionally detached to make the best objective, science-based decisions. Having said that, I think that inducing a baby out of convenience for the doctor is out of line. In cases like this (the one I am describing, not the one in the article) the doctor should put herself/himself in the shoes of their patient. This is a momentous occasion for the mother which the doctors apparently have a tendency to forget, as they see it so often.

  12. @durnett: Okay, let me put it this way: You can judge whatever you want, but when you start butting into my life because of those judgements, it’s time to shut the fuck up.

    As a woman, I’m fucking tired of it. I can’t even get birth control without being told why I shouldn’t. I got Plan B once, and do you know the looks I got? Thankfully there was really one nice pharmacist, or they could have told me (at the time, I’m not 100% sure if they can do that any longer here in AZ) that they refuse to dispense it to me. Yay, it’s awesome being a woman! Being told what to do for EVERYTHING! I just love it.

  13. It would also be very nice if Comedy Central videos that are unavailable in Canada would link directly to the corresponding Comedy Network clip, instead of just telling us to go hunt for it.

  14. @SicPreFix: You need to remain detached to a certain extent, but you STILL need to feel empathy. I’ve had doctors who lacked any kind of empathy and it sucks. Do you know how much it sucks to get poked and proded by someone who doesn’t care about you? Not cool.

    There is a happy medium.

    The doctors OneHandClapping is talking about are all too common and they really only care about themselves, and not the patients.

  15. Here is a comment from a friend of mine, also commenting on the NJ article (in my livejournal):

    “When I was in labor with my first, I refused an epidural at first. I was moaning and sighing, and a nurse came in and told me to be quiet and if I couldn’t quiet down on my own she’d get a security guard in here while I got an epidural. I was too shocked to be furious at the time, but looking back on it I rage.”

    And this is not an uncommon story.

  16. @marilove: To further explain that, my last dentist sucked. She was condescending and clearly didn’t care about me. I got my cleaning and didn’t go back. I really needed other work done, but I wasn’t about to go back.

    I just found a new doctor and he is wonderful. He clearly cares about his practice and his patience. He remembers me by name when I come in. He asks me how I’m dong. He listens to me.

    A similar thing happened with my new GP/Gyno. Suddenly I knew what it was like to have a doctor that actually listened to me and what I had to say, and didn’t rush through the exam in 5 minutes (she took her time, inspected me from head to toe, asked tons of questions, listened to my answers, and answered all of my questions).

    Getting new doctors that actually care about me was like a fucking revelation.

    I have to get my last three wisdom teeth out, and my awesome new dentist told me to call him if I needed anything, and he actually told me, “Oral surgeons are surgeons and tend to be pretty clinical and don’t always think of the comfort of the patience first, so if you need anything before or after the surgery, please call!” So now I feel confident that if my surgeon doesn’t give me the pain meds I need, or the instructions on aftercare, I can call my dentist and he will personally take care of me. That is an awesome feeling and I am loads less nervous about all the work I’m getting on my teeth right now.

    Fuck, I’m almost looking forward to the six (minor) fillings and the deep cleaning I have to go to in a few weeks, because my dentist is so awesome (AND CUTE!). Who gets excited about the dentist?!

  17. Having read through the court documents linked, I agree with DYFS and the judges decision. Btw, I broke ties with my OB/GYN over a rather nasty argument about c-sections (she had a 75% rate) and had a water birth (jacuzzi, no woo-tub) at a birthing center. I have major issues with the way the industry treats childbirth, but even I could see the woman’s instability. There was definitely enough to concern DYFS enough to investigate further.

    It is clearly evident that it wasn’t just what the woman refused but how she refused it. During the psychiatric evaluations while in labor, the woman professed to a history of abuse and neglect as well as past psychiatric treatment. Protective services take that type of situation very seriously. The parents behavior over the next few days in regards to the home visit, court hearing, as well as the past psychological evals, and mental health records…all of it added up to a probable unstable environment.

    Btw, I am currently going through a CPS investigation (Texas’s version of DYFS) regarding my child’s safety in relation to the behavior of her father as well as my ability to keep her safe. There’s no such thing as a good visit from them. I had a natural birth outside of a hospital (with medical supervision), have a mentally ill spouse (separated) and am dealing with CPS. I feel for the parents, I do… but how they acted from beginning to end worried even me. If I were a judge, I would have ruled similarly.

  18. @marilove: I am sorry that you are being harrassed about birth control. I understand that women’s reproductive rights are under a constant threat and I fully support your right to make whatever determinations in regards to your health that you feel are appropriate.

    But that isn’t what we are talking about. We are talking about whether someone is a fit parent – whether they have the capacity to make decisions for others, not for themselves.

    Reviewing the information that @sowellfan: linked to, it appears that the decision not to have a c-section was not a major factor in deciding the custody of the child. Rather it appears that the mental health of the parents as observed in the years before and the months after the birth were the overriding considerations. At this point, I have to bow out of the conversation because I don’t have the training to judge psychiatric conditions.

  19. @Peregrine: No no, it’s cool. I feel bad posting Comedy Central clips knowing our lovely Canadian viewers can’t watch them, so it’s good to know a solution!

    Orly Taitz’s interview doesn’t seem to be up yet on Comedy Network, though. Poo.

  20. From the “Slaughter a cow piece”:

    In fact, a lot of the Jesus vs. the Old Testament differences seem to me to be African vs. Abrahamic differences.

    As if we needed further proof that Jesus was a black man.

  21. @marilove: Agreed.

    @durnett: “Reviewing the information that @sowellfan: linked to, it appears that the decision not to have a c-section was not a major factor in deciding the custody of the child. Rather it appears that the mental health of the parents as observed in the years before and the months after the birth were the overriding considerations. “

  22. @marilove: It’s a bit confusing, but the refusal of the C-section was discussed during the initial court hearings, but in the final decision the judges decided that the refusal of the C-section was not the issue at all.

    Now, FWIW, the doctors weren’t asking her to do a C-section on a whim – apparently there was fetal distress plus some other bad mojo – but I don’t know enough about it to get into it. In any case, in the final analysis, the C-section issue was moot. Well, moot except for the fact that the mother started claiming that she had asked them to perform a C-section, which was at variance with the facts.

  23. This was the most enlightening portion, found nearly at the very bottom of the link:

    Apparently, after one psychologist found the parents to be in “desperate” need of psychiatric care, the court was required to issue a restraining order to protect his safety. Another psychologist, who was assaulted in the parents’ home, also obtained a restraining order. Another refused to provide psychiatric services without assurances that he would not be sued.

    The group contracted to provide parenting classes stated that it could not provide V.M. with services absent a psychological evaluation due to her disruptive and uncontrollable behavior.

    I do echo @marilove: and other’s statements that refusing a c-section should in NO WAY influence the decision, and shouldn’t have even been brought into the debate.

  24. @OneHandClapping:

    I do echo @marilove: and other’s statements that refusing a c-section should in NO WAY influence the decision, and shouldn’t have even been brought into the debate.

    This is what makes me most uncomfortable about the whole thing, I think, and if it weren’t for that, I likely wouldn’t have even paid much attention (clearly the woman has issues and I don’t disagree that she needs help). But they DID bring up the c-section and from what I can understand, that was actually a pretty big starting point for the whole thing, and they are using it in their reasonings, along with everything else, and that’s not right.

  25. I think refusing a C-Section during birth where your baby is showing signs of “distress” could be considered a red flag for doctors. Is it enough to warrant legal action? Probably not. Unless the baby dies of course. But following up on a Red Flag and finding all types of other reasons? This seems reasonable and prudent.

  26. CPS often is aware of the mental health issues of expecting parents before a birth because of calls from concerned family members, doctors and friends. And these mental health issues can at times preclude someone from being a safe or capable parent.

    I’ve been involved in a number of situations where pregnant women refused to get necessary medical care for their pregnancy / birth and either had a child at home with no care, in a ditch and under a bridge. These were all related to the mother’s mental health issues and in two cases the child died after birth and one died before birth. Decisions mothers make regarding the birth of their child can result in the death or permanent disability of a child and can also give a good indication as to the mother’s ability to care for a vulnerable new born. And clearly refusing a C-section for a distressed or breach birth could result in the death of the child.

  27. The problem is that systems of law with only severe punishments are hardly unique to western civilization. Check excerpts from the Code of Hammurabi or the old Mongol system where everything was punishable by death including things like choking on your food or not causing enough pain the animals you slaughter.

    In ancient times, imprisoning people was simply not practical, especially in nomadic societies, so if someone is deemed dangeous to society, the only real options are banishment and death.

    Oh, and racism exists in Europe and a few other little places hardly worth mentioniog…like the whole of East Asia for example.

    Insert lots of anecdotal observation and you have the argument. I also find it ironic that a premise that suggests that a major problem with western society is a lack of nuance seems to lack much nuance itself.

  28. If you’re showing erratic and combative behavior (relative to what is common during a birth) and refusing a c-section when the baby is showing signs of distress? Yes.

  29. Not just no, but hell no. The only thing that should be of interest is the way the patient is acting – taking into account that they are in a very emotional, vulnerable, and stressful state at the time. The refusal of any sort of medical treatment shouldn’t be taken as an indication of instability. OR, if it were to raise a red flag, it should raise a red flag EVERY time someone refuses a medical treatment, which I still don’t agree with on principle.

  30. There was recently a case in Minnesota about a kid who refused to take chemotherapy treatment in favor of “alternative medicines” because of religious reasons. He has a very curable form of cancer and has a very high likely hood of surviving with the therapy. Is it not a form of instability to refuse this type of medical treatment? Does the fact that a child (or a baby) being involved in the situation change your opinion at all?

  31. For me I think the NJ case comes down to the order in which information was presented and events took place:

    In this case, the doctors were aware of the woman’s mental instability when she went into labor. There was already a great deal of concern regarding her ability to parent. In light of that information, her refusal to have the baby delivered by C-section could very well have been seen as negligence – presented with a situation in which her child was in possible danger, she choose to take no action. Her behavior further indicated that her decision may not have been made rationally, but might have been simply a reaction born of a mental illness which often presents as paranoia.

    If the doctor’s had not been aware of her mental condition, her refusal to have the baby delivered by C-section would not have been reasonable evidence of mental instability or neglect, and I would have been infuriated by their decision.

    As a former doula and Bradley childbirth instructor, I’m well aware of the battle that’s often waged between women and their doctors in the maternity ward. I’ve dealt with horribly patronizing doctors who preferred every medical intervention possible in the interest of time management, and they pissed me off to no end. I’ve also dealt with women who refused medical intervention of any kind because their heads were so filled with the woo that runs unchecked through the homebirth crowd – and they piss me off just as much.

  32. @justncase80:

    I had heard about this, and while I don’t agree with it, making medical decisions is a very personal thing. If he and his parents would rather not have the treatment due to religious reasons, well that is their prerogative. Since at the moment being religious isn’t necessarily equated to being mentally unstable, then I don’t see a necessity for courts to intervene. I know I wouldn’t want it the other way around – being forced to allow people to pray over me rather than having a medical procedure done. Besides, it easy to argue that this could be a constitutional case – “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. This is them freely exercising their religion.

  33. The Old Testament made an intelligent mammal suspicious of the unknown. Interesting theory.

    Personally, I’ve always thought it had more to do with the New Testament. Specifically, the part where Jesus first reappears to only some of the disciples. Thomas, the only skeptic in the bunch, says “He’s dead, and I’m not going believe your ridiculous story unless I can stick my finger in the wound in his side.”

    Jesus shows up, flaunts some pre-stigmata, invites Thomas to insert his fingers into the gash (Has anyone looked into the Freudian interpretations of this?) and then Thomas believes.

    Of course for being the only rationalist in the room, he gets the nickname Doubting Thomas. Then to twist the knife a little further, Jesus tells him “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.

    That stuff in bold, it’s pretty much the battle cry of woo.

  34. @OneHandClapping: In the case of adults I probably agree with you completely… in the case of children? Their rights have not necessarily been completely granted and WE have a responsibility to protect them, from themselves, their parents and each other.

    Your analysis of the situation seems heavily slanted towards the mothers perspective in this case. It seems much more valuable to look at it from the perspective of the children, when they are involved, I think.

  35. This cesarean child abuse case is a mess. You have a woman with previously diagnosed mental illness acting “combative” when doctors suggest a c-section.

    Makes sense to me, women aren’t exactly on their most ladylike when giving birth. When confronted with an potentially unnecessary and definitely invasive medical procedure, one would probably state their objects in the strongest possible sense.

    Being mentally ill does not mean stupid. She could have been aware of the recent studies that show US maternal survival rates declining as more C-sections are performed. (This link is only suggested at this point but a pregnant woman might accept it as fact.)

    It is against the law for any physician to perform surgery on an unwilling patiant. Had the doctors gone through with it, a malpractice suit would have been in the works. The potential for one is there as it is.

    So you have an already mental ill woman who has been treated horrifically and now she doesn’t trust anyone.

    She has never seen the child, has had no ability to bond and is being punished for not demonstrating “mother-like” behavior. i.e. she cares more for the injustice than the child.

    She fights those who try to help her and doesn’t show up for court. There’s some honest rage there that is now way out of control. At this point it might be best for the child to remain in foster care. Not because the mother was unfit when she gave birth but because this series of events has rendered her unfit now.

    It’s just a sick, sad mess.

  36. @justncase80:
    Well being that the parents are the legal guardians of the child, and the parents support the decision, there is no conflict aside from what others want to have done. Again, I don’t agree with their religious answer to treatment. My personal opinion is that they are batshit insane for refusing chemo, but that isn’t my, or anyone else’s business. So take it a step further, and this kid is 18, legally deciding for himself? Would someone still force treatment on him? Where does that end?

  37. And I’ll be honest here, I am in large part playing the devil’s advocate. When woo vs. science, I think the science should be forced down their throats. But constitutionally I don’t think they CAN do. The smaller part of me says let them pray over him, at least they are living up to their convictions. Too bad it’s going to cost a human life.

  38. I really do have to wonder what the popular opinion surrounding the NJ case would have been if the infant had died in childbirth after the mother refused the C-Section.

    Is it possible that the outcome of the case is playing a larger part in the ethical question than it rightly should?

  39. @OneHandClapping: In the case of the kid with cancer, I agree that people who have reached adulthood should be able to make their own decisions. If they’re younger than 18, I suppose it depends on their level of maturity.

    What isn’t obvious on reading this story is that this particular kid apparently has some mental handicaps (not really sure on the cause). When the mother, child, and the representatives from the state went into chambers with the judge, the judge started to ask the kid to read the statement that he’d supposedly made, to make sure that he understood everything – and the mother stopped the judge, and had the kid sent out of the room, while she explained off the record why the kid wouldn’t be able to read. In essence, then, this kid *isn’t* able to determine the risks and benefits of the medical procedures – but he’s been brainwashed by his mother, which is the whole problem.

    This case has been discussed extensively at sciencebasedmedicine.org – it’s definitely worth a read.

  40. about the colbert report…

    did she claim he was using a ssn that showed him to be 190?

    Just a quick glance at wiki means he would have had to be about 115 when the SSA rolled out…

    please tell me I am misunderstanding this somehow, and she is not that clearly bat-shit insane (and that people are not actually following her and listening to what she says…)

  41. I don’t know how the US SSA system works, but the first thing that came to my mind was that someone made a typo that went uncorrected for a while, or something like that, and the nut-bars got hold of that, and are trying to use it to prove that it was a forgery.

    Assuming their “evidence” itself isn’t a forgery.

  42. Does anyone have a hard link to this hospital’s C-section rate? I found one claim that it is 49.8%, which I actually do find quite believable, but I don’t have hard evidence.

    A rate of about 50% C-section is completely and utterly ridiculous and a woman not trusting completely someone as crazy as that insisting she has a C-section is probably being quite responsible.

    Seriously, there should be some oversight for HOSPITALS and DOCTORS that overuse these procedures, they can be very dangerous in their own right, and while there are instances that they are necessary, they are often done to serve the hospital’s needs and not the health needs of the persons involved.

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