I have very little generally to add to the discussions of COVID-19 right now; if you want facts best to head to the Australian government info site, the US CDC info site, or the WHO info site.
However. one consideration I’ve seen little of: shutting down childcare centres and schools will disproportionately render the mothers* of children in those centres and schools unemployed in the short term and quite possibly un- or underemployed in the long term (gaps in resume during a likely recession, history of being terminated for absenteeism or of short notice resignations).
It’s possible although not certain (see likely recession) that larger and wealthier employers can extend their more valued workers at least some unpaid leave in this situation, but smaller or less well-funded businesses cannot, and less valued workers may not be able to negotiate them even from employers that might be able to afford them.
And unpaid leave is of course a massive strain on households, for many impossible, especially if the childcare centres (which, remember, are themselves often small and precariously funded businesses) keep charging fees.
Obviously the second-order effects of massively disrupting the global and local movement of people are coming for us all, but they’re coming for mothers pretty early on.
* Yes, fathers and other parents and carers too, but mostly mothers.
Cross-posted to Hoyden About Town.
Muesli bars and gummy snakes are what I ate at about 7am before my recent 9am childbirth… thus thematically appropriate for this small collection of links, some of which I’ve had sitting around for a while.
Using WOC in the Natural Childbirth Debate: A How-To Guide.
If you are a progressive in the Natural Childbirth Movement (or any other, for that matter), use Africa City women to promote the idea that “natural is better.” Talk about women who toil in the fields, squat down to give birth and return to picking rice. Or peanuts. Or anything else that can be picked. After all, the women of Africa City are resilient! Strong. So strong that they do not even require support from the other women of Africa City. Or medication. Or comfort. This example–of giving birth in the field–illustrates how over-reliant “we” have become on useless technology. Of course, you don’t expect “us” to be quite that strong. We are not beasts of burden, after all…
If you oppose the Natural Childbirth Movement (or any other, for that matter), use Africa City women to remind “us” of how bad “we” used to have it, before all of our live-saving medical advances. If women die in childbirth in Africa City, it is only because they lack the Modern Technology we should be grateful that every last one of “us” has unfettered access to. Use infant mortality statistics from the most war-torn countries to argue why a healthy woman from Portland shouldn’t give birth in her bathtub with a midwife who carries oxygen and a cell phone. Redact all mentions of Africa City women who are not hopelessly impoverished. Ignore those who are systematically abused with Modern Technology, sacrificed as Guinea pigs on its altar. All bad outcomes in Africa City are due to the lack of Medical Technology, never unrelated to it, and certainly never caused by it.
Early Labour and Mixed Messages
The emphasis on hospital as a place of safety whilst also encouraging women to stay away results in some very contradictory messages and ideas (please note these statements do not represent my own views)[…] We are the experts in your labour progress, our clinical assessments can predict your future labour progress… we will send you home if you are found to be in early labour… if you then birth your baby in the car park it is not our fault as birth is unpredictable[…] This is a safe place to labour…. but you can only access this safety when you reach a particular point in your labour… preferably close to the end of your labour i.e. you should do most of it on your own away from safety.
Warning for discussion of pregnancy loss. The Peculiar Case of Miscarriage in Pop Culture
Miscarriage is a tricky cultural thing, pop culture or not. It’s a deeply forbidden subject, much like many other things deemed ‘mysteries of womanhood,’ like menstruation, like pregnancy itself. People don’t talk about miscarriages and that discouragement means that many people aren’t aware of how common they are, let alone how devastating they can be. When people lose a child, they can reach out to their community for help and they are given space and time for healing. When they lose a fetus, they’re expected to keep it to themselves.
Sadly, sometimes pro-choice people can be the most vehement about this, concerned about blurring the lines between fetus and child, and saying that claiming a fetus is morally or ethically equivalent to a fully-developed, extrauterine human being could be dangerous. This makes the mistake of applying broad strokes to the issue, though. Legally, of course, a fetus should not be equivalent to a child. Personally, however, losing a wanted pregnancy is an intensely emotional experience and it can feel on some level to the parents like losing a child, with the added burden of not being allowed to acknowledge it, talk about it, or ask for help.
This article originally appeared on Hoyden About Town.
Every so often I want to share some things I picked up in the news that I find more interesting than the level of coverage would suggest. Hence “Not the Front Page News”.
What’s currently buried in the news stories at the moment that stands out for you?
Qantas and Fijian Union Laws
Qantas has a 46 percent stake in Air Pacific, whose majority stakeholder at 51 percent is the Fijian government. Air Pacific appears have have commissioned a United States law firm to draft the Fijian Essential National Industries (Employment) Decree, which strictly limits union membership and industrial action in the airline industry among others, and which has been denounced by human rights groups. It appears Qantas is yet to comment on whether it knew of or was involved in Air Pacific’s lobbying for and funding the drafting of this decree.
The original source of the allegation is these leaked documents at Coup Four and a Half. Current press coverage includes news.com.au, Qantas called on to explain Fiji decree from Air Pacific supporting military regime, which also appears at Coup Four and a Half. I listened to the Radio Australia report (no known transcript) this evening; they were completely unable to obtain comment from either Air Pacific or Qantas.
ACTA to be signed this weekend
The Anti-Counterfeit Trade Agreement (ACTA) is reportedly to be signed on Saturday by countries including Australia. ACTA is considered quite harsh, and probably paving the way fo0r governments to implement “three strikes” copyright infringement penalites (as in, if an Internet connection has been discovered to be downloading or sharing infringing material three times, it gets cut off, probably including shared connections such as those of families and employers). Negotiations have been criticised for taking place in a great deal of secrecy.
Near-final text is now public. Coverage includes ITNews, Australia to sign copyright treaty this Saturday and Computerworld, ACTA will be signed Saturday, US and Japan say. It’s reported elsewhere that the EU does not intend to sign. Kim Weatherall did some analysis on the negotiations and the state of play as of 2008 at The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement: What’s It All About?.