What is this story about?

From the AP (via MSNBC, bastion of integrity – see here, here, and here): Pregnant Fliers Can Easily Hide Condition from Airline

[OR: Women are liars! At least the potential for lying! And no one pay attention to that rape victim behind the curtain!]

[TRIGGER WARNING for story of rape, one that you never see coming.  Yes, the article that is titled “Pregnant Fliers Can Easily Hide Condition from Airline” is based on the story of a rape victim, for whom the author apparently has no empathy or sympathy.]

This is literally the first line of the article:

If a woman really wants to get around the rules barring her from flying in late pregnancy, there’s little an airline can do to stop her.


While I get that there *could* possibly maybe be real issues when very pregnant women get on planes late in their pregnancy (I mean, you are told not to drive anywhere that is more than one hour from a hospital – you get lots and lots of warnings about lots and lots of things late in your pregnancy), this is, yet again, another fun article in the “women can’t really take care of themselves or their children or their unborn children” trope.  It also plays on the tired and old idea that “some” of those pregnant ladies will do whatever it takes to thwart the common sense and authority of people in charge just to do whatever it is they want to do (which, of course, is something that will harm their unborn child – sigh).

I like this sentence:

The airline has procedures to identify pregnant women checking in for flights, “but if someone conceals the pregnancy, it’s difficult and nigh on impossible for us to tell,” Kaczynska said.

I so very badly want to know those procedures.  I’m sure they aren’t intrusive or accusatory in any way.  Oh, wait.  They sound like they may be.  We learn about them later in the article:

But even when gate attendants question how pregnant a passenger is, they usually have no choice but to let the woman fly if she says she has not reached the airline’s cutoff date and is showing no sign of physical distress, said Dr. Fanancy Anzalone, president-elect of the Aerospace Medical Association in Alexandria, Va.

“The rules now are based on honesty and (the idea) that a pregnant mom is going to protect her unborn,” Anzalone said.

If gate attendants believe a pregnant woman is farther along than allowed or showing possible signs of labor or distress, they can call medical personnel to determine whether she has the necessary medical documentation and is fit to fly, Anzalone said.

Does this not read as if Anzalone thinks the problem here is that women aren’t actually honest and may have a tendency not to protect their unborn children?  And can you imagine this playing out on the scene?  You are seven to eight months pregnant and they won’t let you get on your plane because they think you are lying about your “condition”, thus implying that you don’t give a shit about your unborn child.  They call medical personnel to then determine if you are showing signs of distress and if you are “fit” to fly.  Nice.  I can totally see that working out in the favor of the pregnant lady.

The saddest part of this WHOLE article is the impetus for it.  Here’s what the article says towards the beginning:

Investigators believe that a Filipino maid who gave birth in an airplane toilet two weeks ago deliberately wore baggy clothes and some sort of girdle around her stomach to conceal her pregnancy, Gulf Air spokeswoman Katherine Kaczynska said Tuesday.

To me, this reads like some selfish lady decided to thwart the rules without giving a shit about her child.  Turns out, later in the article you learn:

The Filipino woman says she had been raped and impregnated by her employer in Qatar, then forced by her employer’s wife to return home. She managed to hide the pregnancy to board the plane, then went into labor, giving birth in the packed jet’s toilet without any other passengers or the flight crew noticing.

She abandoned her six-pound, nine-ounce baby boy in the trash, saying she feared what her family would say. The child is doing fine under the care of authorities and the woman could face child abandonment charges.

So, it turns out that the maid is actually a victim of violent sexual assault committed by her boss.  She was then FORCED to return home to the Phillippines.  I’m not sure she was the one who “managed to hide the pregnancy”.  It sounds like she was forced to hide her pregnancy.  What would have happened if she had revealed how far along she was and had not been allowed onto the plane?  And, of course, the only person whose charges we hear about are the maid’s.  Not the rapist.  Or his wife.  Because the issue here isn’t the sexual exploitation of this woman or the clearly terrible circumstances under which she was working.  It’s always, “what about the child?”  And “how the hell can a mother do such a thing?”

But let’s remember the overarching point in case you happened to get lost in the story of the Filipino maid: if a lady wants to hide her pregnancy, she totes can and sometimes she will.  Except, the article also makes the point that this isn’t actually an issue in any way that is worth keeping stats about:

In-flight births are so infrequent they aren’t tracked by airline associations. Much more common are passenger medical emergencies like heart attacks and anxiety attacks, or travelers who pass out after taking tranquilizers or drinking alcohol.

Therefor, when the AP writes this:

While the vast majority of women heed airline rules against flying during the last four or five weeks of pregnancy or comply with requirements about providing a medical certificate from a doctor, some manage to conceal their condition or lie about how far along they are so they can get where they want to go.

what do they really mean by “some”?  And they write this like that Filipino woman was trying to get where she wanted to go and so lied about her condition.

So, I ask you, what is this story actually about and why is it published at all?

And for fuck’s sake, here is the headline the Washington Examiner used for this story: “Latest Plane Birth Shows Airlines Have Few Defenses Against Pregnant Women Who Want to Fly”

Let me repeat: We don’t know if the woman who had the latest plane birth WANTED to fly.  I’m sure there is plenty she did not want that she had to deal with anyways.

And women in the late stages of pregnancy are not knife-wielding vigilante ninjas.  I’m not sure why airlines need defenses against them.

Finally, the headline should read, “Filipino female workers who travel thousands of miles to find work in order to help feed and shelter their poor families have no defenses against sexual assault from their employers.”  But maybe that headline just doesn’t get as many clicks?

As Opposing Views put it when the story broke (and they still did not know who the mother was):

It appears she is Filipino, leading to speculation that she worked as a housekeeper in Bahrain, where the flight originated. Many Filipino women work in the Middle East to escape the crushing poverty at home.

“If she’s a migrant worker, this speaks of the ordeal our overseas workers go through,” Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman said.

“Our main priority is the welfare of the mother and baby,” Gulf Air said in an e-mail. “We are currently working with the local authorities in the Philippines to help them locate his mother as soon as possible.”

It appears, though, that the welfare of the mother – that doesn’t matter so much anymore.


10 thoughts on “What is this story about?

  1. Head spinning…I liked this gem, too, “…if a lady is willing to take a risk — and a lot of things can go wrong — that’s their liability, not an airline liability.” I’m so sick and tired of people thinking that they can control pregnant women, and then distance themselves so neatly from any that might not heed their invasive “advice.”

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  3. And how about Sarah Palin, who flew – from Texas, I believe, to Alaska – right before giving birth? If I remember correctly, she’d alrady gone into labor when she got on the plane.

  4. Yeah, well, she did get flak for that, but of course far less since she is way more privileged and also has “baby-liking” credit on account of being anti-abortion.

    I actually think that by the time she’s having her 6th baby, she probably knows her way around childbirth enough to be able to judge how long it will be until the contractions actually get serious. Some women have over 48 hours of labor, after all, and they don’t spend all of them screaming and pushing.

  5. And it probably helped, too, that nothing happened. She made it to Alaska and gave birth and everything was fine.

  6. It all comes down to patronizing righteousness, I think. “Oh, you silly women…you didn’t listen. Now look where it got you! You’re having a baby in a dirty airplane and since we have to make an emergency landing so you can receive medical attention, you’re inconveniencing all of these other travelers. We told you this would happen. Don’t expect us to help you – you should be grateful we’re not arresting you. In fact, it would be easier if you could just stay home next time. Thanks.”

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