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Monday, July 7, 2014

A Pregnant Passion

[Today's guest post by Crystal Kupper is part of our paid blogging program.]

I woke up last week with two identical news stories from friends posted to my Facebook page: five-time national champion Alysia Montano ran a whopping 34 seconds slower than her personal best in the 800-meter event at the U.S. Track and Field Championships at Sacramento.

Her flimsy excuse for those extra 34 seconds? She was 34 weeks pregnant—that's only six weeks away from labor and delivery!

Photo via the Associated Press
I smiled the whole way through the article. Not just because I love it when pregnant women disprove the whole "I'm such a helpless weakling who cannot possibly follow my dreams because children are such a burden" theory that society foists upon half its population. But because I too am known as the "crazy pregnant runner." In fact, like Montano, I also ran a race at 34 weeks pregnant.

I've raced everything from 5Ks to marathons during all three of my pregnancies, right up until the very end. I've even made it a tradition to announce my good news right after a major race.

I didn't start out with this goal in mind. Instead, I became pregnant unexpectedly while training for a marathon at age 22. A die-hard cheapskate, I did not want to forfeit my entrance fee, and besides, I was only ten weeks along.

Like Montano, who told reporters, "I’ve been running throughout my pregnancy and I felt really, really good during the whole process," I felt fine and got the green light from my doctors. But something funny happened as my pregnancy became visible: people came out of the woodwork to question my decision.

"Aren't you worried you're going to hurt the baby?" they would ask, eyes wide. Even after I explained that science confirms the benefits of working out while carrying a child, how wonderful my body felt during and after a run and that my doctors and midwives approved, they would still voice their disagreement. "If I were your husband," one said, "I would forbid you from running and make you take a rest."

(As my man would attest, good luck with that!)

Even Montano, a professional runner, heard similar negative comments.     "[My doctors' go-ahead] took away any fear of what the outside world might think about a woman running during her pregnancy," she said. "What I found out mostly was that exercising during pregnancy is actually much better for the mom and the baby ... I did all the things I normally do ... I just happened to be pregnant."

In other words, my body, my choice! Isn't that the favorite rallying cry of pro-abortion women the world over? Yet somehow, it only applies to cases where women want to end their baby's (or sometimes babies') beating hearts.

I know that many people who told me to take a break were pro-choice. How ironic; as a modern woman I am supposedly capable of making a "personal, private decision" like abortion, but not trusted to make the less-monumental choice to run a few miles while pregnant.

Kudos to Alysia Montano, not only for awesomely pursuing her passion while pregnant, but for exposing the inconsistent application of "my body, my choice" by many abortion supporters.

47 comments:

TooManyJens said...

"If I were your husband," one said, "I would forbid you from running and make you take a rest."

EW.

Chalkdust said...

How many of the people who told you to take a break were pro-life?

Crystal Kupper said...

It was probably a 50/50 split.

argent said...

Wouldn't the world be so much of a better place if people really took 'my body, my choice' to heart rather than using that phrase to advocate making a harmful choice about another human being's body?

Purple Slurpy said...

I saw this article in the news, and thought this woman was awesome as well, and I congratulate and salute your strength as a pregnant runner! More power to you!

Still, great point by Chalkdust. Given that pro-choice and pro-life are about even at 50/50, I'd say pro-choicers are just as likely to congratulate this woman runner and encourage active pregnant women.

>>> "I'm such a helpless weakling who cannot possibly follow my dreams because children are such a burden"

You're misrepresenting the point made by those who rightly point out that there are in fact cases where a child can impose burdens on career or life goals. Its not really the pregnancy that is the burden, but the actual child that is born. Some careers like laboratory scientist, which my mother was one, can require HUGE investments in time if one wants to be the best in the field. My mom worked on the bench, pulled numerous overnighters while she was pregnant with me, so I don't consider her a helpless weakling. However, she knew that she just couldn't handle her workload and raise more than one, so she only planned on having one. She was a regular user of birth control, but it failed, so after careful consideration of her choices, she aborted. As her only son, I'm happy to say that she was the best mother, an awesome scientist and role model. I don't consider her weak, and I don't consider you or any woman weak. But you should also know that some women are not like Montano or yourself. People have physical and mental limits, and it is also a very responsible thing to recognize those, and act in a way which you believe is most likely to give the best possible outcome. Sometimes the choice may be abortion, some times it may be continuing the pregnancy. It is not possible nor is it wise to blindly limit access to abortion.

Purple Slurpy said...

I agree, it would be a better place if we all realize each person's situation is unique and keeping all options available. Only the pregnant person is qualified to make judgements on what happens to her body.

argent said...

I'm not sure if you do agree with me. I'm making two points:
1) That "my body, my choice" means that all human beings, regardless of gender, sex, age, developmental level, or anything else, have the right to be free from other people making harmful choices about their body, and the right to be free from harassment when they make choices that do not harm other human beings.

2) That this slogan has been so overused to advocate for one human being being able to make a harmful choice about another's body that it's gotten in the way of people realizing that "my body, my choice" is actually a wonderful principle, a foundation of human rights that everyone should loudly support.

Jocelyn said...

If it's not the pregnancy but rather the child that is the burden, then why not adopt the baby out....demanding career can continue to be demanding, burden of raising the child is lifted, the baby is safe and no one had to die.
In both abortion and adoption you have to give up the life you created, but adoption gives the baby the chance that abortion takes away.

RaBo said...

Purple Slurpy, you pretty much made all my points for me. And you're mom sounds like an incredible woman!

As a former grad research student, I can attest to the rigors of working in a lab on a mother. I became pregnant before the end of my first quarter in grad school. I was passing out in class like clock work due to the baby's demands on my body. I chose to keep her, which ultimately lead to me failing out of grad school thanks to severe pari-natal & post-partum depression (for which I was already on treatment, but the pregnancy hormones were more than meds could overcome). It was my choice to have my daughter & I love her deeply. I do not regret having her. But the pregnancy was an emotional Hell I don't think any woman should be forced to go through.

It is some misogynistic bull crap that some people told you that you were being irresponsible for running while pregnant. Yes, some women have to be bed-ridden during pregnancy, but obviously, not all. It just shows that they don't trust women to make choices about their own bodies & babies even with input from their doctor. Sound familiar?

Purple Slurpy said...

I can't speak for all women, but my mom did consider adoption. In fact, one of our childless relatives wanted the child. In my mom's words, she knew that she wouldn't be able to bare being separated from the child once she's spent 10 months with it. It was her child, and she didn't want it being given away. Also, I was a handful at the time - we had just moved to the US, and all of the sudden, I was at the age of 2, separated from all of my extended family. I was quite lonely as my parents both spent long hours at work, and clamoring for a sibling. My mom felt that if she had given birth and then suddenly put my sibling up for adoption, I would be very upset.



She explained her heartfelt reason to our relative, and while they were saddened, they understood why she felt this way, and accepted that abortion was the best possible choice in this situation.

Purple Slurpy said...

Hi RaBo. Sorry to hear that you had to drop grad school, but happy to hear that otherwise your life turned out great and that you have a great daughter. Some people have the capacity to have it and do it all, but for the most part, we as limited beings have to ration our time and energy. I think how a woman rations her limited resources is fully up to that woman. Some will choose to give birth, some will choose abortion. In an ideal world with infinite, cheap energy and robot maids, I hope that abortion becomes unnecessary (though hopefully NEVER illegal), but until then, abortion is still a valid choice, and one way a woman can make a responsible decision about herself and her family.

Chalkdust said...

I don't really see giving advice to pregnant people as more hypocritical or inappropriate coming from pro-choicers than from pro-lifers.

The Equal Rights Initiative, which some bloggers here like, draws a distinction between "Sovereign zone" pro-choice arguments and "Right to Refuse" pro-choice arguments. (See Section IV of their De Facto Guardian paper.) The argument that no one has any right to tell you what to do during pregnancy is a "Sovereign Zone" argument. The ERI admits that the "Right to Refuse" is a lot harder to refute than the "Sovereign Zone" argument, and for the reasons they outline, a lot of pro-choicers accept "Right to Refuse" and not "Sovereign Zone".

The distinction is that many pro-choicers believe that you should have an absolute right to decide whether or not you want to carry a pregnancy to term, but once you've decided to carry to term you have obligations to the baby-to-be that you've decided will exist.

For me, this is a part of why I'm pro-choice. You asked your doctor if it's safe to run while pregnant. I'm guessing that if they had said no, you'd have stopped. That's because you accept your obligations to your baby-to-be. And that's more likely among pregnant people who at some point decided, "Okay, I want this baby" than among people who think, "I really don't want to be pregnant, but my government is forcing me to be."

Yes, people telling you not to run when you're pregnant, when all the actual evidence including your physician's recommendation goes the other way, is ridiculous. But it's not any more ridiculous coming from a pro-choicer (who thinks you took on obligations when you chose to carry to term) than from a pro-lifer (who thinks you took on obligations when you chose to have sex). It's something we--on both sides of the abortion debate--ought to oppose.

someone45 said...

Yes I agree. Everyone should be able to make whatever choice they want about their body. That includes deciding if they want to keep an unwanted pregnancy or not since the embryo doe snot have its own body yet since it cannot survive without the body of its host.

argent said...

To clarify, are you saying that if a human being cannot survive without another person's body, their body is not truly their own?

kitler said...

They don't have bodily autonomy because they are infringing on the rights of the host.

Coyote said...

"Everyone should be able to make whatever choice they want about their body."

Does this include castration (for males, obviously)?

someone45 said...

I don't see why not...

someone45 said...

What Kitler said... If it cannot sustain its existence without a host it does not have any rights over its body.

argent said...

So you don't believe that not being able to survive without others means you have no rights, but you do believe that someone who is infringing on the rights of others (even through no fault of their own) has no right to bodily autonomy?


(But please don't call a pregnant person a 'host', it's gross.)

kitler said...

Pretty much.

Also, an unborn human has no bodily autonomy because they have no autonomy period. They are only potential persons.

argent said...

So, for example, you would say that if I'm currently stepping on my friend's toe (infringing on his rights), that in that moment I have no right to bodily autonomy whatsoever?

And in your view what distinguishes a potential 'person' from a 'person'?

kitler said...

If you are assaulting your friend, and sticking your body inside his, and taking his blood and injecting him with toxins I would say that you have temporarily lost the right to bodily autonomy as his right to defend himself comes first.

argent said...

So your argument is that self-defense trumps the right to bodily autonomy?

argent said...

Is it alright if for the sake of this specific point we ignore the distinction between 'person' and 'human being who is not a person' that I acknowledge you're making, and the distinction between volitionally infringing on someone's rights vs. using someone's body through no fault of one's own, which is a distinction I would make if we were talking about the issue as a whole?

kitler said...

Do you have the right to defend yourself against a cognitively disabled rapist? Sleepwalker? Scnizophrenic?

The above are not culpable, as they know not what they do.

kitler said...

It trumps the right to life.

Abortion is not unjust killing.

argent said...

Well if you do want to discuss the volition/culpability aspect, then sure.

Against a sleepwalker I would say I have no right to respond with more violence than they are doing to me, so if that situation were parallel to pregnancy, I wouldn't say it would justify abortion.

But the situation of pregnancy is different because the unborn human's involuntary actions were caused by the volitional actions of human beings: me and my partner (in the case of consensual sex). It is less like defending myself against a sleepwalker, and more like tapping a girl's kneecap, and then 'defending myself' against her kick.

argent said...

And please don't do the whole associating-mental-illness-with-violence thing; that tends to play into a lot of ableist attitudes.

argent said...

Well, wouldn't you say that the right to life is just a special case of the right to bodily autonomy? You can't have agency, make your own choices, have sovereignty over your body, etc. if you're dead, right? And in most cases, including abortion, you have to violate someone's body in order to kill them.

kitler said...

I am sorry, but it's a fact.


There are people who are cognitively disabled - the mind of a 6 month old - who are quite violent, because they are essentially babies.


And two schizophrenic men in Canada recently 1) killed a man 2) nearly killed a woman and they were found not guilty, due to their mental illness.


Most mentally ill and cognitively disabled individuals are not violent, but that still doesn't change the FACT that some are, and they are innocent of any wrongoing.

kitler said...

Against a sleepwalker I would say I have no right to respond with more
violence than they are doing to me, so if that situation were parallel
to pregnancy, I wouldn't say it would justify abortion.


So if the sleepwalker was raping you, and the only way to escape was to use lethal force, you would just lie back and let the rapist sleepwalker get on with it?

But the situation of pregnancy is different because the unborn human's
involuntary actions were caused by the volitional actions of human
beings: me and my partner


Can't 'consent't o slavery, sorry. It's a logical impossibility.

It is less like defending myself against a sleepwalker, and more like
tapping a girl's kneecap, and then 'defending myself' against her kick
by harming her.



At what point does she rape you, occupy your body, drill into your blood vessels, extract nutrients from your body and bones, inject toxic biowastes into your body, dampen your immune system, inject you with addictive hormones, potentially kill you and disable you at any moment, and after 9 months, torture you for 6-72 hours with incredible pain and shove a large object up your vagina?

kitler said...

Its not hyperbole. Its factual. This is how gestation works.

Purple Slurpy said...

One more question. So this pro-life author decides to enter a race while pregnant. On average, I think we can all agree jogging is good for the health of the mother and fetus. However, races involve crowded starting lines and people that are pushing themselves harder than usual. So accidents happen, and accidental deaths happen, probably more often than during regular training. I'm just taking a guess here, but I think a "race" has higher risk than just jogging.

So if the pro-life cause now becomes law, and fetuses are now persons. If a pregnant woman has an accident and say trips and is stepped on by a following runner and she has a miscarriage and the fetus is injured or worse, dies. Should the pregnant woman be charged with child endangerment or murder? Should the person who was following too close and couldn't react fast enough be charged with something as well?

kitler said...

And these women are outliers. They don't represent the majority of pregnant women. Furthermore, a perfectly "healthy" pregnancy can go wrong at any time. A doctor signing off on a 24k marathon is not any sort of guarantee that things won't go from good to very bad in a short time.

Ann said...

Great article.


If I am 12 weeks pregnant and have a cigarette pro-choice people will jump down my throat for harming my baby. If I have an abortion 6 days later the same people will not think I am harming my baby.
Nice comment on society isn't it?

Ann said...

Seriously?
That is the most illogical statement I have yet to read.
Congratulations!

kitler said...

Explain exactly how it is illogical. Give a detailed explanation. Tia.

DarkCougar555 said...

..... Oof. It is difficult for me to take those articles seriously because they described the pregnancy like a deadly and dangerous disease, yet they claimed zefs are not parasites.

They really need to make up their mind about whichever zefs are real parasites or not.

Coyote said...

Your position on this is still the same even for males who do not plan on getting a sex change, correct?

Coyote said...

What exactly are your views in regards to a case where there is a hospital mix-up and Person A's kidney and/or whatever has accidentally been donated to Person B without Person A's kidney. Should Person A be able to use whatever force if necessary to take back his/her kidney and/or whatever from Person B?

someone45 said...

Yeah... I do not see why a male deciding to do that should be anyone's business but his.

Coyote said...

Thank you for your response.

It is nice to hear that you support giving men a way to have consensual sex with any woman that they want to without worrying about the risk of pregnancy. :)

lady_black said...

Knock yourself out. I don't recommend castration, but whatever floats your boat.

lady_black said...

That's not what was said. Anyone who needs the BODY of another to sustain life has no right to that body... even if he or she dies.

lady_black said...

Yes.

Plum Dumpling said...

Sure. Castration is recommended for some cancers.

secularprolife.org said...

Thank you. :)

Also, for the record, it is worth noting that your recommendation of abstaining from all vaginal sex with any fertile female for the rest of my life is *extremely* unappealing to me.