Archive | January, 2012

The Curious Silence about Babies Who Die at Homebirth

27 Jan

The CDC published an update on homebirth yesterday. Entitled Home Births in the United States, 1990–2009 and written by MacDorman, Mathews, M.S. Declercq, the data brief noted:

• After a decline from 1990 to 2004, the percentage of U.S. births that occurred at home increased by 29%, from 0.56% of births in 2004 to 0.72% in 2009.

• For non-Hispanic white women, home births increased by 36%, from 0.80% in 2004 to 1.09% in 2009. About 1 in every 90 births for non- Hispanic white women is now a home birth. Home births are less common among women of other racial or ethnic groups.

• Home births are more common among women aged 35 and over, and among women with several previous children.

• Home births have a lower risk profile than hospital births, with fewer births to teenagers or unmarried women, and with fewer preterm, low birthweight, and multiple births.

• The percentage of home births in 2009 varied from a low of 0.2% of births in Louisiana and the District of Columbia, to a high of 2.0% in Oregon and 2.6% in Montana.

But there’s one thing that the data brief didn’t mention at all: exactly how many of those babies died.

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Vaccine Rejection: A Flat Earth Theory for the 21st Century

18 Jan

The flat-earthers are back!

Well, not exactly, but their descendants have come up with the flat-earth equivalent for the 21st century. They reject vaccination.

Vaccine rejectionists are all over the web promoting the “dangers” of vaccination. Vaccine rejectionism isn’t about vaccination, though. It’s all about parents and how they wish to view themselves.

It is important to understand that vaccine rejection is not based on science. There is no scientific data that supports vaccine rejection. Indeed vaccines are one of the greatest public health achievements of all time and virtually every accusation about vaccines by vaccine rejectionists is factually false.

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The Misogyny at the Heart of Natural Childbirth

12 Jan

“The mother is the factory, and by education and care she can be made more efficient in the art of motherhood.”

That was written in 1942 by Grantly Dick-Read, widely considered to be the father of modern natural childbirth. Most people don’t realize that natural childbirth was invented by a man to convince middle and upper class white women to have more children and abandon their demands for political, economic, and educational equality.

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Standing Up to Gender Bullying

5 Jan

You’ve probably seen this Tumblr post already, but I thought I’d share it anyway.

In summary: Kristen, a woman who works as a shift manager for Gamestop, recently witnessed a father trying to bully his son, age 10–12, out of buying a purple game controller along with a game with a female protagonist. Luckily, the boy’s elder brother, a high school wrestler,  stepped in and stood up to the man. Kristen also comforted the boy by assuring him that “There’s nothing wrong with what you like. Even if it’s different than what people think you should.”

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Why Students are a Priceless Investment

5 Jan

This post originally appeared on CFI’s A Course of Reason—A CFI On Campus Blog on January 3, 2012.

Students, young people, and the “30 under 30” that some people reference are part of a growing trend to include students in activism and secular organizations. Some organizations, like American Atheists, have done innovative things to get students involved. Offering free or reduced rates for organization membership, giving free or very inexpensive entry to conferences, and offering grants and scholarships to students for their hard work and dedication to our missions are all simple measures that attract students and make them feel important to our movement.

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Token SkeptiXX Interview – TigTog Of Hoyden About Town And Finally A Feminism 101 Blog

3 Jan

The following interview was featured on the Token Skeptic Podcast Episode #88 — On Codes of Conduct Part II — Sexism, Skepticism And Civility Online.

One of the more enjoyable aspects of creating a podcast episode that looked at the contributions and conflicts that face skeptical women online, has been the opportunity to connect with people whose work I’ve been reading for quite some time.

For my last interview in the three-part series, I spoke to TigTog, aka Viv SmytheShe’s an Australian writer, a web wrangler, creator of the immensely popular Hoyden About Town (Life, Laughs, Science, Progressive Politics and Foiling Diabolical Masterminds!) blog and the Finally A Feminism 101 Blog —both very influential sites, with many writers involved.

For this interview, we talk about the origins of both sites, her and others’ experience as women bloggers and what advice there is for anyone who wishes to promote civility and critical thinking online.


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Is Science Male?

2 Jan

I asked my parents for a microscope when I was 10 years old.

That precipitated a major discussion. They pondered whether a microscope was “appropriate” for a girl. It’s not that surprising that it was a source of contention. I grew up at a time when science and math were considered “too hard” for women. When I told people I wanted to be a doctor, they told me to be a nurse. Even when I got to college, I was one of a very few women majoring in biochemistry.

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