When did Measles Become a Human Rights Issue?

If you are anywhere near the social media these days, you have been hearing about measles and vaccines….A LOT. Let me just preface this post by saying I am not hosting a debate on whether or not you should vaccinate yourself or your child. Don’t go there. Neither will I. (and if you comment on anything other than supporting families, regardless of their decision, and supporting human rights, it will be deleted) So, when exactly did measles become a human rights issue?

That happened right around the time that some (not all by any means) people started calling for the police to round up any parents who haven’t vaccinated their children, others called for non-vaccinating families to wear the equivalent of a Nazi star, still others cried for concentration camps, and a few of the really far out violent people suggested that parents just be shot and the children taken to foster care. It wouldn’t be the first time the United States has forced people into concentration camps, and for much less than choosing not to vaccinate, but I can hope that our society has come a bit farther than that in this day and age.

Photo by Markus Grossalber

Photo by Markus Grossalber

Personally, I don’t care what you do. Vaccinate. Don’t vaccinate. My hope would be that you do your research. And by research, I’m not talking about reading the propaganda from either side but by digging into actual medical journals and evaluating what is there. I know I am not the only one who can lose track of time due to the joy of digging through the stacks. Then, take that information, along with your personal and family information, and make an informed decision (because you know your health and your family’s history). That would be my hope.

However, even if you don’t do your research and make a decision, I still don’t care what you decide. Why? It is not my decision to make. I have this thing about bodily autonomy. I happen to enjoy it. I want the right to make my own decisions regarding my heath care and what I allow others to do with my body, whether that is addressing birth choices, reproductive rights, sexual assault, physical assault, cancer treatments, or anything else. And if I want that right for myself, than I can’t expect to tell someone else that they must or must not allow someone to do something to them.

Life comes with no guarantees. There are always risks. If you are fearful that an un-vaccinated person will put you at risk or that a just vaccinated person is shedding and putting you at risk, you probably need to stay home. You have no idea who has or has not had the diseases, had the vaccines or not, had recent boosters or not. If you aren’t comfortable with the decision you have made for your family, then maybe you should re-evaluate that decision.

Now, some will loudly say that people who don’t vaccinate are putting the population as a whole at risk, and therefore we can’t risk allowing a person to have bodily autonomy in this matter. Frankly, there are a lot of factors which people at risk for these diseases, and I think we should focus on those for a minute.

Healthy lifestyles – the Standard American Diet really isn’t helping you stay healthy. Sanitation – sanitation is such a key point when it comes to preventing the spread of infectious diseases. Poverty – families living at or below the poverty line are much more likely to suffer from all types of illness. We need to help everyone make a decent living wage so that they can provide for their families to be healthy. Maternity and paternity leave – the United States gets a big, huge fail on this. We need both so that our fragile newborns don’t have to go to daycares right away. Breastfeeding, breastfeeding rights, and milk banks – we should be supporting this first step in the immune system. Paid sick leave – sick people need to be able to stay home and get better instead of passing it on to everyone else. Share baked goods you bring in. Leave the illness at home.

As a recap: Let’s advocate for doing your own research. Let’s advocate for information on healthy living. Let’s advocate for good sanitation. Let’s actually work to help people who are at a higher risk in general, such as families living at or below the poverty line. Let’s call for changes in work and school policies which encourage health so that we don’t have sick people out there running around. Let’s have women not be the only ones taking time away from their chosen careers (WOH, WAH, or SAH) to care for the sick, the young, and the elderly. Promote breastfeeding! Instate both maternity and paternity policies so that parents don’t have to drop their newborns off at daycare. Let’s promote a decent living wage so that people can be healthy. 

All of these things sound like much better options than sending families to concentration camps or shooting parents, who love their kids just as much as you love yours. And all of them are positive ways to advocate for and support families without crossing that bodily autonomy line.

If you are sick, by all means…….STAY HOME!

I would also politely ask you to go wash your hands, because I have been in public restrooms;  I know the majority of people out there are not washing their hands and science backs that up. A little bit of soap and water and scrub for 20 seconds. Doesn’t that feel better? (imagine that said with the voice of your own mother)

Voting with Kids

I Voted!Later today, I will be headed to the polls…with four kids in tow. Some may think I’m crazy. The line to vote may be long. There are never any other children there. Yet, every single election, I head down the street with my children. Sometimes, like tomorrow, my husband joins us and we go as a family. Other times, when our schedules aren’t as easily aligned, I head with just my kids. And yet, I take them.

I’m setting a precedence with my kids. Voting matters. Certainly, they still have quite some time before they can vote themselves, but the outcomes of the decisions being made affect everyone, including them.

Politics are not something for adults at our house. We talk about politics. We watched the debates together. We asked our children what they thought about the issues, the politicians, and the political campaigns.  Rights are for everyone, and if someone isn’t afforded rights, it’s our duty to do something about it. Just as our own rights were fought for by others, we owe it to ourselves and to others to stand up for everyone. Am I often disgruntled with government and politicians? Yes. That doesn’t mean I should become apathetic. It means I should work toward doing something about it.

My kids go with me to vote because it’s important to me that they know how important it is to have your voice heard. My children’s voices are heard at home, but that isn’t the case for every child or even most children. It often isn’t the case for many minorities, even those who have legal rights. I’m not throwing away my right to vote. I want them to know about my mother, their grandmother, and how she refused to tell anyone for whom she voted. She remembered a time when women were allowed to vote…for the person they were told to vote for by their husbands.

I want my children to understand that having a voice is a human right that should be afforded everyone. I want them to use that voice and to stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. I want them to use their voices to make a better world. So later today, I’ll head to the polls with my children. I will use my voice and show them that they can also use theirs.

Feel Free to be Offended

There are those who are offended by the sight of a mother nursing her child in public. To them I say, “Feel free to be offended.”

In a world as diverse as ours, something is bound to offend another person – sexuality, race, gender, religion, clothing, speech, habits, etc. We have the right to our individual beliefs and, as a part of that, a right to feel offense. Where our rights stop is where they interfere with another person’s rights.

Personally, I’m offended by smoking. I think it’s disgusting, and I really don’t want to be anywhere near it. However, I’m not going to ask someone to quit smoking. I will quietly go somewhere else so that my children and I don’t have to be around it. I am also disgusted by the site of people chewing food with their mouths open. Apparently the memo that watching partially masticated food is unappealing didn’t make it’s way through the entire human population (or my in-laws’ house). I reserve the right to look away in my offense.

What I don’t have is the right to dictate how people legally live their lives. I may be offended by some things, but frankly it’s none of my business. I don’t have the right to dictate what they can and cannot do based on my sensibilities.

So the next time I’m out in public and breastfeed my child, feel free to be offended. Feel free to look away, walk away, cover your head in shame, or however you choose to deal with your uncomfortable feelings. You have that right, just as I have the right to nurse whenever and wherever I have the right to be.

 

This post was originally written and posted for inclusion in the Carnival of Nursing in Public hosted by Dionna and Paige at NursingFreedom.org. I am reposting due to timely discussions.

A Matter of Choice

An Afghan woman and child in Parwan Province, Afghanistan. Photo by Sgt. Sean A. Terry, USA

A couple of years ago, I had a conversation with my children about women covering themselves, after we saw a woman who wore a head covering. My then 5 year old daughter wanted to know why the woman’s head was covered, and we discussed the fact that some religions require women to cover their heads or bodies so that others do not see them. The next question to follow was whether or not the woman had chosen to cover her head or whether someone had made her do it.

This brought about a very insightful discussion about women’s rights, and human rights in general. Some women choose to cover themselves based on their beliefs. Others are forced to cover themselves or suffer persecution.The distinction between the two – freedom and oppression – is clear; it’s a simple matter of choice.

The choice to cover oneself, including covering when breastfeeding, is a personal choice. Women who choose to cover do so out of personal preference based on their beliefs. To tell tell others that they should cover themselves is an attempt at oppression, whether the cover is meant for the woman’s head or her child’s.

Previously posted on Living Peacefully with Children and Nursing Freedom.

Foreskins are Functional

Foreskins are functional. Most parents wouldn’t knowingly cut off a functional part of their infant’s body. In fact, it’s illegal to cut off the majority of infant body parts, excluding foreskins. However, most people aren’t quite aware of the function of the foreskin, assuming that it’s just a piece of skin. What they don’t realize is that piece of skin is there for a reason.

Photo by Yuri Samoilov

The male prepuce, commonly referred to as the foreskin, has a high concentration of blood vessels, nerves, nerve endings, muscle layers, and skin.

Muscle layers protect the urinary tract from contaminants, thereby decreasing urinary tract infections. At the same time, the foreskin covers the glans of the penis, protecting it from abrasion and irritation, and keeping it moist, making it more sensitive to stimulation. The foreskin also contains glands in the skin which work to keep the penis clean. Similarly, there are glands which produce antibacterial and antiviral proteins which protect against infection. The pH of the foreskin also cultivates beneficial bacteria; without beneficial bacteria, men are at a higher risk for UTIs.

The foreskin contains approximately 240 feet of nerves and 20,000 nerve endings. Logically speaking, the loss of such can have a dramatic effect on sexual pleasure later in life. Three feet of veins are included in the foreskin, along with up to 80% of the penis’s skin. Altered blood flow due to scar tissue can affect urinary tract flow and result in more UTIs.

Removal of skin and veins affects erections. When a penis becomes erect, it grows in size due to blood flow. Removal of the foreskin does not allow the erect penis to become fully erect outside the body, effectively shortening the penis and at times causing pain or discomfort for the man. During intercourse, a man’s foreskin allows the penis to move in and out without abrasion, making intercourse much more comfortable and pleasant for his partner.

Foreskins serve many roles. Say no to circumcision and protect a healthy body part.

Informing Mothers on Effects of Circumcision on Breastfeeding

La Leche League, an organization dedicated to providing information and support for breastfeeding mothers and families has historically claimed that their only interest is in providing information to and supporting mothers in regards to breastfeeding. In an effort to reach as many women as possible, they supposedly do not mix causes.

Image from Circumstitions

I can understand the point of not mixing causes, although the statement that they don’t could be argued. I could even agree that the ethical and moral decisions surrounding circumcision should not be discussed in a La Leche League meeting any more than any other morally volatile or personal decisions should be discussed. However, La Leche League’s offical stance took the subject of circumcision even farther. They removed any information about the effects of circumcision on breastfeeding from their book, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding.

I take no issue with the fact that La Leche League does not wish to engage in the moral and ethical issues involved with routine infant circumcision in an attempt not to alienate mothers who may need help with breastfeeding. However, by withholding information pertinent to breastfeeding, the topic at hand, not only do they fail to give women all of the information needed to make informed choices regarding their breastfeeding relationship, but by removing factual information regarding this matter, they are inadvertently supporting circumcision.

Read more and sign the petition to La Leche League regarding this matter here.

Top 10 Reasons to Leave Your Son Intact

Welcome to the March Carnival of Natural Parenting: Natural Parenting Top 10 Lists

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared Top 10 lists on a wide variety of aspects of attachment parenting and natural living. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

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Photo by Beth

10.  80% of the world’s male population is intact.

9. It is easier to clean an intact infant’s penis than to deal with open wounds in a diaper which is routinely filled with urine and feces.

8. Foreskins are functional, protecting the glans while containing sensitive nerve endings and blood vessels.

7. It is a parent’s duty to protect his/her child. Circumcision is painful.

6. Pain and shock from circumcision disrupt bonding, breastfeeding, and sleep patterns in newborn infants.

5. Complications include infection, abnormal bleeding, removal of excessive amounts of skin, loss of part or all of the glans, urinary issues, and death.

 4. It is illegal in the United States to circumcise a female against her will or who has not reached an age of majority. Circumcising infant males is discriminatory.

3. There is NO medical benefit to routine circumcision. Removal of the foreskin does not prevent STDS. It does not lessen the chance of developing penile cancer.

2. Once done, it cannot be undone.

1. If it isn’t your body, it’s not your decision to make.

Circumcision is a deeply personal decision. Let’s leave the decision to the person who owns the penis. Say NO! to routine infant circumcision.

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Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be live and updated by afternoon March 8 with all the carnival links.)