The Contraceptive Mindset Invades the Gambia

As champions of the feminist cause, progressives tirelessly insist that they want to expand the range of choices open to women around the globe. But a new study out of the Gambia in West Africa manifests more than a little progressive discomfort with one kind of female choice: that of bear­ing and rearing a large family. Indeed, this study signals a strong progres­sive commitment to prevent this female choice through a contraceptive reordering of Gambian society. Conducted by researchers at the University of the Gambia, this new study focuses on “grand multiparity,” the obstetric phenomenon mani­fest when a woman has “carried five or more pregnancies to the age of viability.” The Gambian researchers note that “grand multiparity is still quite common in The Gambia,” where the Total Fertility Rate stands at 5.6 births per woman. In studying grand multiparity, the researchers are studying a phe­nomenon they regard as a problem, one they definitely wish to make less prevalent by prevailing on more Gambian women to use modern contra­ceptives. “High parity,” the authors of the new study remark, “is... still a common problem in obstetric practice in many developing countries” (emphasis added). Why do the researchers regard it as a problem that many Gambian women bear five or more children? They note that grand multiparity is “associated with maternal anaemia in pregnancy, antepartum haemor­rhage, abnormal foetal presentation, postpartum haemorrhage as well as medical conditions such as hypertension in pregnancy.” They further remark that, compared with mothers who have given birth to fewer chil­dren, “the grand multiparous woman is also more likely to require a sur­gical obstetric intervention with its attendant risks.” In addition, among the children born to grand multiparous women, medical professionals see a distinct elevation of “perinatal problems including low birth weight, preterm birth and congenital malformations.”
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