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Drug use during pregnancy: Junior and I will take two packs of Camel Lights, please

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If you have not already done so, it’s a good idea to read the introduction to this discussion first.

Two pregnant women comparing their very large bellies Kellie Burns started this conversation on May 6, 2008 10:58 PM (CC-BY-SA-3.0-US Licensed; read more info):

A mother is supposed to nurture and care for her child. The child’s well-being is the mother’s full responsibility. Yes, I believe that if a woman chooses to become pregnant than she should commit to a healthy pregnancy and baby. During my pregnancy, I went as far as to cut out chocolate (which I happen to love). Not only should a pregnant woman cut out harmful substances such as drugs, she should also eat healthy foods that include proper nutrition needed for the development of the unborn fetus. However, not all women are capable of the discipline necessary to avoid harmful substances while pregnant. Legal drugs as well as illegal drugs are exceptionally addictive. It isn’t really a matter of “should a woman quit or avoid drugs during pregnancy?” It is more a matter of “is she capable of quitting drugs during pregnancy?” Drugs cannot be taken lightly. I have seen many friends and family members try to quit smoking cigarettes, and 99% of them have failed. Rehabilitation centers exist out of necessity.

A woman should not be punished for drug use during pregnancy. A law to discipline women during pregnancy would be extremely hard to enforce. As you are well aware, any fertile woman is capable of conceiving. Unfortunately, unlike a driver’s license, she need not venture down to the local DMV to take tests in order to conceive. Therefore, we will constantly have unfit mothers (including crack addicts, alcoholics, and etc.) birthing our children. Although this is unfortunate and sad, it is impossible to regulate. Why stress and worry about something so uncontrollable? To monitor and/or regulate a woman’s intake during pregnancy would be absurd. The resources, time, and money to accomplish this task would be far too extensive. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, there were 4,138,349 births in the US in 2005. (

Does it really make it better to blame and punish the woman? Do you think that she will stop using drugs to avoid punishment or consequences? She is obviously not concerned with consequences.

The rights of a mother and her unborn baby lead to a very touchy debate of Pro-Life VS. Pro-Choice. How can you discuss the rights of a fetus and rights of its mother without diving into the topic of abortion? I am uncomfortable with discussing my stance on abortion. People are either pro-choice or pro-life, and they will not change their mind based on an argument that they have heard a million-and-one times over. The rights of a mother and her unborn child are very debatable and subjective. The rights are not “black and white.”

In a perfect world, women would avoid drug use during pregnancy. Unfortunately, that isn’t where you or I live. I’m not going to waste my time worrying about something that I can’t control. If I had a friend or family member that abused drugs during pregnancy, then I would use all my resources available to offer them help.

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Drug use during pregnancy: Drugs and Pregnancy?

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If you have not already done so, it’s a good idea to read the introduction to this discussion first.

Nicole Zolty started this conversation on May 6, 2008 4:36 PM (CC-BY-SA-3.0-US Licensed; read more info):

I do think a mother has an ethical obligation to avoid drug use during pregnancy. That said I should also state that I am completely pro-choice. I feel it should be a woman’s decision whether or not she plans to carry a pregnancy to term or if she plans to terminate it. However I strongly feel that if she decides to carry the pregnancy to term she DOES have a responsibility to offer that child the best start possible. Choosing to do drugs is clearly wrong in my eyes.

Punishment is a tricky question. How would that be enforced? Mandatory drug testing of all pregnant woman? I feel that the government already is a bit too much in our personal business, and that having to submit to drug testing simply because I am pregnant would be a HUGE violation of my rights. If mandatory testing were to become a reality I think we would see a rise in the numbers of woman who choose to use midwives and plan home births.

Furthermore, punishment in my opinion would make woman who were struggling with drug addiction even less likely to seek help for fear of repercussions.
I do understand how many feel that punishment would lower the amount of woman who choose to abuse drugs during their pregnancies, but honestly I don’t think the threat of punishment would stop anyone. The threat of punishment generally makes people just work harder at hiding things so they do not face the consequences.

More education and support groups might help. I assume most mothers who are struggling with a drug addiction during a pregnancy feel a sense of shame, so maybe support groups that offer the woman the option to remain anonymous would be helpful.

Hope I have not offended any with my thoughts.

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Drug use during pregnancy: Necessary Obligation

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If you have not already done so, it’s a good idea to read the introduction to this discussion first.

An ultrasound image of a baby inside the wombThe anonymous student who started this thread has not given me permission to reprint his words here.

He feels that, although difficult to overcome an addiction, a mother is obligated to all parties involved to stop using drugs while pregnant. Once pregnant, he is concerned that the woman endangers the life of her child, too. While this has similarities to the abortion debate, he sees an important distinction: drugs are illegal and abortion is a woman’s right under current court rulings; drugs are unhealthy and a bad habit, whereas abortion is a personal choice. In his opinion, by not choosing to stop using drugs, the woman shows how little she thinks of the baby and how it will be affected as a result of the drug use. He feels that women who refuse to stop taking drugs or are unable to do so during pregnancy should be penalized since illicit drug use is a crime and hurts the child.

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Drug use during pregnancy: Introduction

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What should be done about a pregnant woman using drugs like this woman is?I am currently taking a course in Contemporary Women’s Health from Cuesta College. In each unit of the course, we are given a topic to discuss. Previous questions focused on the progress women have made toward equality, how the traditional family unit has changed over time, and whether current standards of beauty are realistic. This week’s discussion was much more controversial:

Does a woman have a responsibility and ethical obligation to avoid drug use during pregnancy? If she does use drugs during pregnancy, should there be punishment for endangering the baby? What are the rights of the mother and the baby?

Obviously, this question threads a thin line between the “Pro-Choice” and “Pro-Life” debate. That, however, is not the only politically charged topic. We also touched on mandatory drug testing of pregnant women, reporting of results to the government, and surgical sterilization for women who use drugs. The question of whose rights were more important, the mother’s or the child’s, was raised. Various suggestions for ways of prosecuting women found to be using drugs was discussed, as well as treatments that might work.

In all, it was a very fascinating topic to discuss, and everyone remained civil and focused on debating the issue, not attacking each other. Hopefully anyone who chooses to comment here on this blog will do the same!
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It’s Your Duty to Be Beautiful: Summary

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“The beautiful and thin” are not the only women “valued and loved” by our society, at least that was the conclusion after a week of discussion in my Women’s Health class. Most people felt that appearances did make a difference in how people were perceived and accepted, but not in whether they were able to find love and acceptance. Appearance, good personal hygiene, and a modicum of fashion sense were important for initially attracting attention, but may not be critical to maintaining a relationship. Read more after the jump.

It’s Your Duty to Be Beautiful: Beauty is as beauty does (Responses, Part 2)

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Sean_Cassidy2Nicole had some very interesting observations and thoughts in response to my earlier post on the Annie Lennox song, “It’s Your Duty to Be Beautiful” in our ongoing class discussion. This interesting and illuminating discussion about women and self-image includes what it is like for a woman to date both average looking and almost perfect looking men and how boyfriends’ attitudes and words can ruin a relationship when they let weight become an ultimatum. It concludes with some insights on parenting. Enjoy!

Written by Nicole Zolty on April 24, 2008 10:47 PM (CC-BY-SA Licensed):

I appreciate your post Will. I agree with you that inner beauty is always more than outward. With inner beauty often comes confidence which I find extremely attractive. Confidence in oneself exudes off of people and draws you to them.

Many people cannot see past appearances though which is so sad. I have been in relationships with people in “perfect” shape and also with the average person.

And one relationship was not better than the other because of how they looked, people are just people, the packaging just varies.

I am thin, and I have had two men that I have dated inform me that I needed to stay thin if they were going to stay with me. One even went as far as to give me a weight limit that I needed to stay in for him to stay with me. Needless to say they were gone quickly after that, but what amazed me is that some people are so hung up on thinness that they feel it is acceptable to make such stipulations on another. Not to mention I lost all respect for them. Woman whether heavy or thin want to be valued for WHO they are, not how they look.

Thanks for your thoughts.

I’m sorry if this sounds rude, but those two men are such losers! I’m happy that you had a strong enough self-image to see that and to leave the relationships rather than trying to meet an unrealistic mandate.

That was an interesting insight about the “perfect” people and the average person being no better or worse. It makes sense on an intellectual level, yet it is somehow reassuring to hear someone say that.

I am curious if you felt or were treated any differently when you were with “perfect” or “average” people. I can imagine several different scenarios. First, when you were with Mr. Perfect, you might have been looked down upon for not being so perfect (though it sounds like you might have just fit in fine). You might have felt a bit better about yourself in the company of a “perfect” man (“Look at who I scored, girls!”). You might have been treated better when with Mr. Average, because maybe you looked better than he did. Did you feel as respected by others when with Mr. Average compared to when you were with Mr. Perfect.

Basically I’m wondering if your partner’s looks had any spill-over, positive or negative, onto you.

Thank you for your comments.


Read More »It’s Your Duty to Be Beautiful: Beauty is as beauty does (Responses, Part 2)

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It’s Your Duty to Be Beautiful: Beauty is as beauty does (Responses, Part 1)

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A beautiful woman from TurkeyMy original thoughts on the Annie Lennox song, “It’s Your Duty to Be Beautiful” in our ongoing class discussion launched the most discussed message thread for the activity. It was an interesting and illuminating discussion about women and self-image. It also discusses ideas about the physical ideal, fantasy ideal, romantic ideal, and how they all play a part in attracting and keeping men’s interest. Enjoy!

Written by Kellie Burns on April 24, 2008 10:46 PM (CC-BY-SA Licensed):


I think that you and Michael are both correct. Appearance and a great attitude are both attractive to me. I enjoy spending time with a people who have a great personality. Women with high self-esteem are hot! On the other hand, I find women who are a healthy weight (not skinny), clear skin, well-dressed, neatly trimmed hair, tan, and a “nice” breast size attractive.

It is to my understanding that all men have a need to “relieve” themselves through-out the week. (I know I’m treading thin waters, and I don’t want to cross the netiquette line. I still wanted to bring up the topic, though, because I felt it could be relevant.) Honestly, if I were a male and had the need to visit websites to release tension, I wouldn’t look for a site with women with mustaches and/or unibrows. I think that I may find a site with the stereotypical woman to carry out my fantasy. If I were a male, I would probably look at beautiful women as they passed me downtown. I would notice thin, well-groomed, well-dressed women more than I noticed the woman in plain, baggy clothes that hasn’t had a hair cut in 12 months, and is overweight.

On the contrary, as a woman, I feel intimidated by women in little clothes and “booming” bodies. I don’t understand why I feel so uncomfortable around them. I know that I am strong, smart, and pretty. Somehow, these women are still capable of making me feel inadequate.

I do wonder if everyone has something about their body that they would like to be different. I have a hard time believing that there is someone out there that is completely excited about every single physical aspect of their body. I think that some people have just learned to accept themselves for who they are, and in turn, they focus on more fun things in life. That doesn’t mean that they are completely satisfied with what they were dealt in physical traits. It just means that they believe that there are more important things in life than obsessive calorie counting.

Wow. Thank you for the great and thought provoking reply.

I agree with you that it is unlikely that most men would actively seek out overweight, neglectful, or even frumpy women to help “release tension” (though the term chubby chasers was invented for a reason). I think there is a difference between a “fantasy ideal” and a “relationship ideal”.

Read More »It’s Your Duty to Be Beautiful: Beauty is as beauty does (Responses, Part 1)

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It’s Your Duty to Be Beautiful: The beautiful and the thin

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Tracy Mitchell weighs in with her opinion on discrimination (or lack thereof) of women who are not skinny and beautiful. She also provides some interesting background information on the song “It’s Your Duty to Be Beautiful.” I respond and also mention similar themes in the musical Thoroughly Modern Millie.

It’s Your Duty to Be Beautiful: Beauty is as beauty does

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Annie Lennox, Eurythmics, Drammenshallen, Norway, October 6th 1986My latest class assignment is to read the words of the song, “It’s Your Duty to Be Beautiful” popularized by Annie Lennox in the 1990s. We are then to discuss if we agree or disagree with the statement:

“Only the beautiful and thin are valued and loved. The non-skinny or non-pretty woman does not fit in and will face discrimination, stereotypes, and fewer social relationships. The pressure to achieve the ‘ideal’ is so strong we do not question the implications behind teaching young women how to be perfect and loved.”

It’s Your Duty to Be Beautiful

Keep young and beautiful. It’s your duty to be beautiful.
Keep young and beautiful, If you want to be loved.
Don’t fail to do your stuff With a little powder and a puff.
Keep young and beautiful, If you want to be loved.

It you’re wise, exercise all the fat off. Take if off over here, over there.
When you’re seen anywhere with your hat off, Wear a Marcelled wave in your hair.
Take care of all those charms, And you’ll always be in someone’s arms.
Keep young and beautiful, If you want to be loved.

—Al Dubin and Harry Warren, Keep Young and Beautiful [Recorded by Annie Lennox], on Dive [CD], New York: RCA, 1992.

As much as I would love to say that the song is totally wrong, I can’t. For some people (not me) skinny, perfectly made up, ultra enhanced and mostly unrealistic beauty IS the epitome of beauty. To those people, this song is an accurate portrayal of beauty and the challenges needed to meet it.

That being said, I tend to buck convention, and what is inside is far more important than the exterior. Whether the person is skinny, obese, or anywhere in between… has a unibrow or perfectly plucked and curved eyebrows… a beauty spot or a hairy mole… what the person does, how they live their life, how they treat the lowest of their fellow man is far more important — and beautiful to me.

I would much rather marry someone who is overweight and happy than one who is the picture of perfection and miserable trying to stay that way.
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How the ‘traditonal family’ unit has changed into the ‘current family’ unit

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A diverse 'current family' unitTraditionally, families have been groups of related people living together. In such family groups, the able-bodied young to middle-aged adults generally provided a supportive and nurturing environment for the infants, children, and elderly family members. Families often lived in community groups, and the male adults (fathers and teen males) would provide sustenance for the families through hunting, fishing, or farming activities. The younger adult women (mothers and teen females) would care for the youngest family members, clean, cook, tend the livestock, and otherwise “keep house”. The elderly women would often teach the young girls and boys the history of the family and other things that children needed to know as they journeyed into adulthood. Elderly men would usually sit around, discussing matters of great importance among themselves, as well as offering unsolicited advice to the rest of the family.

From this early family paradigm, we can see where much of the stereotypical family elements of a “traditional family” of the 1950s developed.Read More »How the ‘traditonal family’ unit has changed into the ‘current family’ unit

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