No Babies For Fat LadiesSeptember 23, 2011 No Comments
Doctors are discussing whether fat women deserve to have babies. Specifically, they are deciding whether obese patients should have access to fertility treatments.
“Get off your 50 pounds or so and exercise and then see where your fertility is at,” said Beverly Hanck, executive director of the Infertility Awareness Association of Canada.
Obese women, even if they conceive naturally, have a greater risk of developing high blood pressure and gestational diabetes.
“If you don’t think a woman should become pregnant for medical reasons, you have no business helping her to become pregnant,” said Carl Laskin, president of the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society. Well, I guess the silver lining is they’re not talking about sterilizing fat women for their own good (yet).
Yet some doctors are crying foul, saying that obesity is hardly the only health issue that could affect fertility.
“You’d be denying half the reproductive population from gaining access to fertility treatment,” Anthony Cheung, a fertility expert at the University of British Columbia and Grace Fertility Centre, told the Globe and Mail.
“We don’t say, ‘Oh sorry you smoke, so we can’t treat you – it could result in pre-eclampsia, or small babies.’ It doesn’t mean we have this blanket policy where we say we can’t treat (smokers)”
No one has suggested that alcoholics shouldn’t receive fertility treatment, despite public concern about fetal alcohol syndrome. Older women receive fertility treatments although they are much less likely to get pregnant in the first place, have a higher risk of miscarriage, and are more likely to produce a child with chromosomal disorders, such as Down’s syndrome and autism.
In fact, the super-skinny American celebrity Giuliana Rancic had no problem finding a doctor to help with her fertility issues, even though she was so underweight he warned it was affecting her ability to get pregnant. It’s not just about doctors wanting women to be a healthy weight, it’s about them not wanting women to be fat.
“In our society, the decision to procreate is left to the individual,” said Arthur Schafer, director of the Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics at the University of Manitoba, “So why would it be appropriate for the doctors to usurp those rights for women who are obese?”
The fact is that most people who are overweight have already tried, and failed, to lose the weight. There is no doubt that bad eating habits and a sedentary lifestyle are bad for a person’s health, but this has nothing to do with being overweight. There are skinny unhealthy people and healthy fat ones. Size is not an indicator of health.
“If you adhere to BMI blindly or uncritically… you may have people with low risk and still be denying them treatment,” warned Dr Cheung.
The suggestion is that doctors cut off access to treatment for patients with a Body Mass Index (BMI) somewhere between 30 (obese) and 35 (morbidly obese), yet this is hardly an accurate measure of a person’s health. It’s an easy test for doctors to perform, but it is flawed, according to researchers at the Mayo Clinic. It can also be easily thrown off by large breasts or muscles. (Check out this visual comparison of underweight, normal, obese and morbidly obese individuals).
Dr Cheung said that this is less about protecting the health of the patients than about “biases of our own society around treating women with high BMI.”
No kidding. When was the last time a doctor told a man he was too fat for Viagra?
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