Hyperemesis Is Serious Business, Whether You’re a Princess or a Pauper
And if the women doesn’t have a support system, good insurance and is in danger of losing her job because of complications of pregnancy —what are her options if abortion isn’t a choice for her? More reasons we need to take the Universal Healthcare seriously?
Like Kate, I was lucky. I had a job I could keep; disability insurance; health insurance; and help from my then-husband, who had to take off work to change the intravenous fluids and take care of me. I had contraception to plan my pregnancies, great medical care, a wonderful Ob-Gyn, and the reassurance, even when I did not believe it, that my babies would be okay. Kate may have it worse or better than I did medically, but either way she is suffering from a potentially serious complication of pregnancy. And, what is more, she is going to be expected to “perform” for the cameras some time very soon, putting more pressure on her as a woman dealing with a serious condition in early pregnancy. The very thought of mixing cameras with hyperemesis makes me sick all over again.
The treatment of Kate’s condition by at least some media outlets as just another bout of morning sickness is at least in part a failure to really understand and report on pregnancy as anything other than a fantastic event, a tug of war between “choice” and anti-choice movements, a struggle to *get* pregnant, or a major social drama (think teen pregnancy).
Missing is an examination of just how dangerous pregnancy can be, and how dependent the lives of pregnant women are on access to good nutrition, good medical care, and good support systems. This same reality was illustrated in a different but tragic way in the case of Savita Halappanavar, who died last month in an Irish hospital because doctors refused to terminate her pregnancy at 17 weeks even though it was clear she was miscarrying and even after it became clear she could not survive unless in fact they terminated the pregnancy, quickly. They let her die.
But it is a reality played out every day in places throughout the world in which papparazzi have no interest. More than 350,000 women die each year from complications of pregnancy and unsafe abortion. The malnutrition, anemia, and other health conditions rampant among pregnant women worldwide are contributing factors. Cultural, economic, and social discrimination mean that both women and girls are exceptionally vulnerable to poverty and are less likely than men and boys to have adequate food intake. Iron deficiency anemia, for example, contributes to 20 percent of all maternal deaths worldwide. One study conducted by UNICEF in Samburu, Kenya revealed that 60 percent of the pregnant women were malnourished, and even so, they still gave up shares of their food to make sure they could give more to their children.