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Lay off Chrissie Swan for smoking while pregnant

Broadcaster and commentator Chrissie Swan certainly opened her own can of worms yesterday with her admission she has been smoking while pregnant with her third child. Swan’s “confession” came to light…

Why do we feel the need to judge Swan for having a few sneaky cigs while pregnant? AAP/Tracey Nearmy

Broadcaster and commentator Chrissie Swan certainly opened her own can of worms yesterday with her admission she has been smoking while pregnant with her third child.

Swan’s “confession” came to light following an incident earlier in the week when she was “caught” smoking in her car by a photographer - she apparently begged him not to publish the image.

The story is making headlines because medical authorities in Australia have made it very clear that smoking is a big no-no in pregnancy, given the impressive list of health risks to mothers and babies.

Yet when it comes to smoking during pregnancy, fetal health has routinely been presented as the only reason women should quit. Packets of cigarettes carry huge (scary) warning labels that shout (literally) SMOKING HARMS UNBORN BABIES with an image of a suffering baby.

In spite of medical warnings, one in seven women smoke during pregnancy in Australia.

In anticipation of the fallout over the story, Swan shut down her Twitter account (@chrissieswan) – and with good reason. The public reaction to her confession has been one of anger and outrage. Many people have been forthright in criticising her for “selfishly” and knowingly endangering the life of her unborn baby.

But why do folks feel the need to judge Swan for having a few sneaky cigs while pregnant?

Pregnancy is profoundly medicalised in Australia, with pregnant women receiving constant reminders that everything they do or consume has the potential to endanger the life of the fetus.

As I have explained previously on The Conversation, the proliferation of images of fetuses in popular culture has changed the way we think about the relationship between pregnant women and the unborn. This has led to a growing perception that fetuses are “people” with “rights” that need to be protected at all costs.

In line with this, anti-smoking campaigns often use visual emotional appeals to convince pregnant women that fetal life must be protected. For many years, anti-smoking campaigns used ultrasound images and cartoons with talking fetuses in the womb begging mum to “get me out of here”.

We need to recognise the cultural forces that shape women’s decisions to smoke during pregnancy. Flickr/zippaparazza

More recently, such appeals have gone high-tech. The Australian government launched a phone app as part of its Quit for you, Quit for two campaign. Notably, the app gives a woman access to information about “how [her] baby is growing” whenever she has the urge to smoke.

For the most part, these campaigns have been ineffective in helping pregnant women quit smoking. But they have been effective in promoting a specific way of seeing fetuses (as individuals in need of protection) and defining how pregnant women should feel about them (quitting smoking is a sign of maternal love). But these campaigns are jarringly similar to the rhetoric used in anti-abortion ideology.

It is for this reason that Chrissie Swan’s plight presents difficult questions for feminists.

From an ethical viewpoint, it’s hard to deny that pregnant women have certain responsibilities to their fetuses. After all, the scientific research shows us that smoking does indeed cause various health problems.

However, castigating pregnant women like Chrissie Swan also presents deeper social and political risks for feminists who would rather not fuel fetal rights ideology.

The mixing of moral judgements against smoking and public health messages is dangerous because all of a sudden it becomes legitimate to intervene in the maternal-fetal relationship on behalf of the fetus.

I feel sorry for Chrissie Swan. As an educated woman, she surely knows smoking in pregnancy is harmful. As Swan said in her public statement, the stress of the demands associated with her job, of moving house, and constant travel all contributed to her smoking. She weighed the risks - it is not for me or for anyone else to judge her decision.

For Chrissie’s sake, the answer is not harsh moral judgement; pregnant women shouldn’t be shouldering the morality of the nation. The only way forward is to recognise pregnant women’s agency – including the choice to smoke when pregnant – as well as the much larger social and cultural forces that shape women’s decisions to smoke during pregnancy.

We should be more sensitive to how women think about their fetuses and we should be working towards the creation of positive public health campaigns that focus on maternal and fetal health.

Importantly, we also need to be aware of the broadscale social change that is still necessary in order to help women who are trying to juggle the demands of paid work and home life. It’s not enough to say Swan shouldn’t be smoking during pregnancy without addressing the range of factors that got her to that point in the first place.

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80 Comments sorted by

Comments on this article are now closed.

  1. Susan Lawler

    Head of Department, Department of Environmental Management & Ecology at La Trobe University

    When I read the title of this article, I thought you were saying Lay off Chrissie, as in sack her from her job. I am so relieved that you meant to say give Chrissie a break. It is a shame that someone who makes a living by sharing herself so publicly should be judged so harshly for being a human being. I bet the public backlash makes her want to reach for a smoke. The angry righteous mob should consider the damage they might be doing to her unborn child!

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    1. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Susan Lawler

      "...The angry righteous mob should consider the damage they might be doing to her unborn child!..."

      I sincerely hope that statement was meant ironically. Perhaps she should consider what damage might be caused by her actions, instead if trying to blame everyone else.

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    2. Colleen South

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Seriously, the stress caused by a flood of anger from wowsers would be more harmful than smoking. Of course, she knows it's not ideal, but unless you are perfect, you shouldn't judge, especially pregnant women who already do it tough.

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    3. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Colleen South

      So Colleen, you think it is wowserish to disapprove of a woman smoking while preganant do you? Well I am going to disagree with you. It is not wowserish at all, it is simply normal, acceptable behaviour that encapsulates how society should react to a situation like this.

      And please stop with the hypocrisy about not judging unless you are perfect. Are you perfect? I am going to suggest not, yet you seem perfectly willing to judge others and to call them wowsers. Why is it okay for you to judge…

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    4. Andrew Muratore

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Colleen South

      This seems like a claim that could be scientifically tested, and unless you can advance evidence to the contrary, I very much doubt that the harm caused by stress would be worse than the proven consequences of smoking.

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    5. Dianna Arthur
      Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Andrew Muratore

      While I doubt an actual comparative study has been done directly comparing the consequences of smoking with the effects of constant stress, there is no doubt that both are harmful.

      I finally managed to stop smoking 9 years ago - but while I was going through a very bad situation in the workplace I continued to smoke - because it helped!

      I feel for anyone who has difficulties stopping the bad habit, I know how hard it is to stop and I am not going to take the holier than though attitude of someone…

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    6. Chris Saunders

      retired

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne
      It’s pretty easy to pick up a bit of wowserism in the ready hunger to disapprove displayed in certain sections of the community which the media play to constantly and one would think even those herd like sections of the community would eventually realise that and refuse to be so manipulated.
      The context is that the lowest denominator of any society targets women as an easy vehicle through which to not only intimidate women but also men, as the Islamist terrorists in…

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    7. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Mike: I'm generally as critical of smoking as they come, but I know nothing about this woman and whether she is smoking twenty a day or one every few days.

      Like most areas of life, there are few absolutes. If she was previously a heavy smoker and has cut down to one a week for the sake of her pregnancy, she is doing well. None would be better.

      It's a strange phenomenon when a pregnant woman becomes a public resource for anyone to run a moral crusade - particularly other women. Will we also judge whether she intends to have a drug-free birth or to breast feed?

      The potential children of smoking-drinking teenage parents are another case again - they have a whole heap of hurdles ahead of them.

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    8. Dennis Alexander

      logged in via LinkedIn

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Mike, I'm not calling you a wowser or a hypocrite, but how many smokers do you know who have been badgered into quitting permanently by an angry and self-righteous mob: being an ex-smoker, the attitude merely made me defensive and determined to exercise my right to self determination. I doubt that being pregnant makes much difference to that response. While you may have a health point, your attitude is counterproductive to achieving your espoused aim - that is you get to feel vindicated while exacerbating the very problem you excoriate, inevitably contributing to the failure of sensitive health education.

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    9. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Dennis Alexander

      My apologies then Dennis (and Sue et al).

      In future if I see someone doing something wrong, rather than saying or doing something I will just sit back and think of all the reasons why it wasn't their fault. It is tough being pregnant. Women are under lots of pressure. Smoking is addictive. People should be left in privacy to do what they want. It's societies fault. It's counter-productive to point out someone's mistakes. etc etc etc

      Did you know that here in South Australia it is illegal to smoke in a car when children are onboard? How dare the police pull people over and book them! I think I will write to the government and ask them to change that law. It is obviously counter productive to pick on people like that. It isn't their fault you know - smoking is so addictive and they are obviously under a lot of pressure and need to smoke.

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    10. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Not so Felix. Everyone of those statements has been made in comments on this thread.

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  2. Chris Saunders

    retired

    What are these social mores that allow people’s personal acts to be blended into the public life of an entertainer and displayed, or are threatened to be displayed, for purposes of public condemnation? Surely these are the acts of a Taliban or similar fundamentalist terrorist organization.
    Are we going to have public stoning and hangings next?
    What type of person is this photographer who invades someone’s privacy (Chrissie, from reports, was in a car), takes a photo without permission and then threatens to destroy her career by publishing it. That is out and out blackmail and intimidation and they should be charged with an offense against all human decency.
    As to the behaviour of a woman while pregnant that is something for her capability, risk management judgement and conscience to determine, not society’s base instincts of condemnation and self righteousness to control.

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    1. Les McNamara

      Researcher

      In reply to Chris Saunders

      "What are these social mores that allow people’s personal acts to be blended into the public life of an entertainer and displayed, or are threatened to be displayed, for purposes of public condemnation?"

      Perhaps we should ask Swan? After all, that is the entire premise of the Big Brother TV program, on which Swan built her career as a tv and radio personality.

      Ironic.

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    2. Chris Saunders

      retired

      In reply to Les McNamara

      Ironic indeed. I have not been familiar with Chrissie’s entertainer history. It brings to mind my delight in the send up of Ray Martin by John Saffran. Although, Ray was able to keep that suppressed for a few years.

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  3. Joy Johnston

    Midwife at Aitex Private Midwifery Services

    Smoking has been highlighted as a serious public health issue for many years, and the 'public' has received a great deal of education as to the harmful effect of smoking, pregnant or not. Why then should we be surprised that Chrissie Swan feels the force of public criticism for smoking?
    Smoking is an addiction, which many people have attempted to overcome, with varying results.
    The point I want to make is that I don't think it's helpful for commentators to justify smoking as a choice that a…

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    1. Laura Coulter

      Practitioner

      In reply to Joy Johnston

      Joy, you say you are not moralising, but the use of words like "filthy" are about as moralising as it comes. It is this sort of language that contributes to the perception that it is OK to dehumanise and vilify certain groups of people (whether based on a shared behaviour such as smoking, or bottlefeeding, or a shared physical characteristic - such as obesity), allowing health practitioners (or researchers, or advertising creatives, or people in the supermarket) to deny any responsibility for coming…

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    2. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Laura Coulter

      Laura,
      I believe that joy is right to describe the habit as filthy. The habit produces toxic smoke and unsightly waste in the form of cigarette butts and ash. To describe the habit as filthy ( as in filth producing) is quite apt.
      If Joy had described smokers as filthy that would be different.

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    3. Laura Coulter

      Practitioner

      In reply to Citizen SG

      Seamus, I did not challenge Joy on the "correctness" of her statement. I challenged the use the word "filthy" because it connotes moral superiorty, and it is the sort of language that contributes to the human capacity to alienate and dehumanise other human beings.Which is, believe it or not, extremely harmful in the health worker-family relationship.

      The act of smoking creates pollution and litter. This is technically correct. On the basis of this "definition": the act of driving a car, purchasing any form of pre-packaged or non-locally produced and processed food, using nappies, formula-feeding, airline travel, heating our homes, etc etc.would all also meet the definition of "filfthy" behaviours. Do we feel as comfortable about applying the term to these behaviours as we do about smoking? If not, then I am uncomfortable about it being use to only describe one type of "naughty" behaviour, but not others.

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    4. Joy Johnston

      Midwife at Aitex Private Midwifery Services

      In reply to Laura Coulter

      Really? The use of the word 'filthy' "connotes moral superiority" and all the other nasties that you have listed. How?
      Laura Coulter, you are listed as a Practitioner. If you are a health practitioner of some sort, you should be able to look at an issue, such as smoking, within your scope of practice objectively, and use language that describes it. This does not, as far as I am concerned, "alienate" and "dehumanise" another person. A health practitioner has a duty of care to advise and guide within contemporary knowledge, and smoking in pregnancy is pretty clear-cut.

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    5. Laura Coulter

      Practitioner

      In reply to Joy Johnston

      Joy, some people believe that language is benign and a "word is just a word". And people who think this are entitled to this belief. So, if this is your position, I say "fair enough".

      Others, like me, believe that words are actually very powerful, and they have great ability to influence the way that social relationships unfold. There are some great reads in this regard.

      I am not familiar with the midwifery scope of practice nor of any midwifery competency document which says the responsibility…

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    6. Casey Schapel

      Social Worker

      In reply to Laura Coulter

      Have to agree with Laura on this. And as Sue pointed out above, we don't know the extent of her smoking. I note that the article states this is her third pregnancy - we don't know her smoking habits during these pregnancies nor the context in which she was living during these times.

      I absolutely think that criticisms to people about their health do more damage than good, public backlash over this is hardly "motivational interviewing" however, at the sametime, Chrissie is a public figure and this is always going to cause some sort of backlash, unfortunately. I bet pictures surfacing of father's smoking next to their pregnant wives would not receive the same criticism despite the 'public knowledge' about passive smoking.

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    7. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Joy Johnston

      Joy, the problem is that it has northing to do with 'guidance' or information. To even bother to reiterate the the stuff about 'contemporary knowledge' is roughly the same as reminding people that gravity exists so it's better not to leap off tall buildings.

      Like Dennis, I'm a former nicotine addict and my experience is the same as his: the single least helpful thing was to be reminded (yet again) of what you (being alive and conscious in the modern world) were well aware of.

      I used to have a rather bitter rejoinder to those who would lecture me: 'Thank you, but I know that. The thing is, I'm an addict, not a fu@%ing idiot.' (And, yes Virginia, there is a difference!)

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    8. Kim Darcy

      Analyst

      In reply to Laura Coulter

      " It is this sort of language that contributes to the perception that it is OK to dehumanise and vilify certain groups of people."
      Putting that at the beginning of your post, did not do your argument any favours.

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  4. Andrew Muratore

    logged in via email @gmail.com

    "We should be more sensitive to how women think about their fetuses and we should be working towards the creation of positive public health campaigns that focus on maternal *and* fetal health."

    Like, oh, I don't know, don't smoke, including while pregnant?

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    1. Laura Coulter

      Practitioner

      In reply to Andrew Muratore

      Hmm. I don't think Meredith was suggesting that smoking is not harmful for either mother or child. Rather, I think the subtlety of her argument was that the advertising approach used does not appear to be *effective* in reducing maternal smoking, but quite effective in creating permission for people to be agressive and hateful toward women who are dealing with addiction. I think (?) Meredith's point was that a more useful (and ethical) approach to advertising would be one that was effective in increasing the number of women who get the support they need to stop smoking, without putting parents "squarely in the firing line" of abuse and judgement and all that comes with it.

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    2. Andrew Muratore

      logged in via email @gmail.com

      In reply to Laura Coulter

      If that's what Meredith was arguing, she should have stated it clearly and succinctly. Instead she spent a great deal of time conflating health messaging about smoking while pregnant with the abortion debate, which, as other commenters have pointed out, is neither justifiable nor helpful.

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  5. Mike Swinbourne

    logged in via Facebook

    "...Lay off Chrissie Swan for smoking while pregnant..."

    No.

    "....She weighed the risks – it is not for me or for anyone else to judge her decision...."

    Yes it is. Her decision was wrong - end of story.

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    1. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Not sure what your point is Felix.

      I've made lots of mistakes. And I will make lots more mistakes in the future.

      But then, if I make a mistake and get called on it then I don't expect people from all over the country to come to my defence and castigate the person who had correctly called me out.

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    2. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Oh, and case you weren't aware Felix, Ms Swan's 'job' in the media consists almost solely of her judging other people.

      I would like to suggest to her (and others here) that if she does not like being judged for her actions, she should stop being a hypocrite and do the same.

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    3. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      I'm not defending Swan personally, merely trying to point out that the simplistic approach of demonising or endlessly reminding people just doesn't work. And the mere fact that she may be a media twerp doesn't make her fair game - that's a pretty dangerous argument.

      Nobody at any point has suggested smoking was okay. We were merely discussing what actually works in practice. If you care more about results than moralising, then surely that's the approach you would take.

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    4. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Yes Felix, I do care more about results than moralising.

      It's just that you and I - apparently - disagree about whether or not that pointing out someone's mistakes is the best approach to achieve a change in behaviour.

      I tend to go with the approach which has been adopted by humans (and other animals) for milennia. That is, to punish undesirable behaviour and to reward desirable behaviour. It is called operant conditioning, and if you have kids or a dog (or are in a supervisory position…

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    5. Laura Coulter

      Practitioner

      In reply to Mike Swinbourne

      Hi Mike. Forgive me (and feel free to correct me) if I have misunderstood - but I think you are talking about two different things here.

      The first point I think (?) you have raised is about the acceptability of critiquing the behaviour of someone who has "chosen" to put themselves in the "spotlight"? While I do know that there are some debtates about this issue - I humbly admit I am not informed about any of them, but I do think your comments, in this regard, are interesting.

      The second issue…

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    6. Les McNamara

      Researcher

      In reply to Laura Coulter

      Laura. That makes a lot of sense. But I think the fact that Chrissie Swan is a public figure and a social commentator in her own right makes this different. She isn't just a random person standing on a bus or sipping soda water at a pub.

      After all, Swan actively invited this kind of critique when she chose to appear on Big Brother. She has been paid for voicing her opinion on all kinds of matters - on The Circle, The Project, and on radio. She even has a PR company employed to manage her career and her public image.

      It's asking a lot of the general public to not take note of what she does, critique her actions or pass judgment on her life choices. Although I agree Swan needs support rather than chastisement, I don't think it is reasonable to expect the general public to 'lay off' and offer that support.

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  6. Citizen SG

    Citizen

    Whilst it is clear that the in utero effects of smoking impacts upon feral and child health it is not so clear how much blame should be accorded to the mother in every instance. Let me elaborate.
    The fact remains that Chrissie chose to smoke at the time that she was photographed, but what is her daily cigarette consumption? 1 cigarette a day is probably of low toxicity to the foetus but 30 would be statistically much more likely to affect child health. Although there is no safe threshold for exposure…

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    1. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Citizen SG

      I'm loving mynipad autocorrect for turning foetal into feral..... Might be appropriate in some circumstances I guess...

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  7. Sue Ieraci

    Public hospital clinician

    "Pregnancy is profoundly medicalised in Australia, with pregnant women receiving constant reminders that everything they do or consume has the potential to endanger the life of the fetus."

    While come censorious comments might come from the medical profession, I imagine that a lot of the anger expressed comes from the "Sanctimommy" community that wants to define perfect motherhood.

    What pregnant woman who has taken half a glass of wine in a restaurant hasn't had at least judgmental looks, if not comments, from other diners?

    Our community has taken messages from medical research, but exaggerated them to the extreme - be it diet, pregnancy behaviour, exercise of childbirth.

    The most realistic, and adaptive, message is that there is no perfect human behaviour, and that balance is important in all aspects of life.

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    1. Kim Darcy

      Analyst

      In reply to Sue Ieraci

      "Our community has taken messages from medical research, but exaggerated them to the extreme - be it diet, pregnancy behaviour, exercise of childbirth."
      Well not really "our" community, just the Little Nicola Roxons of the "Public Health" politburo.

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  8. David Lecomte

    Electronics Engineer

    My sympathies are for both Ms Swann, and her unborn child.

    Nicotine is a highly addictive drug.

    It acts on the body in the same way as adrenaline.

    Many smokers have, unknowingly, suppressed their ability to produce adrenalin, because the nicotine is acting as a substitute.

    The excuses Ms Swann gives for her need for a cigarette, are just like the excuses given by any addict of alcohol, and/or an illicit drug.

    The moral outrage of those attempting to "stone" her, are just awful. How many of these people have their own demons.

    Addicts need help, not stoning.

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  9. Dianna Arthur
    Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

    Environmentalist

    Well if no-one else is going to say it, I will:

    Women are just useless; irresponsible during pregnancy, cannot work in paid employment 24/7 like men, can't throw a ball and don't even like the Three Stooges!

    Time for the men to man up and take over pregnancy - they won't be found hiding in laneways sneaking a smoke. Nah, they will light up in full view of the public, honestly puffing away and if their foetus can't handle it, then that's just the way nature intended.

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    1. Citizen SG

      Citizen

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Possibly all true. But if a bloke sat next to a pregnant woman in a car and chain smoked for 4 hours would you state that no critical judgement should be applied to him?

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    2. Sue Ieraci

      Public hospital clinician

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Nice piece of irony, Dianna, but - even more ironically, it is often other women who are criticising women's behaviour in pregnancy, childbirth and infant feeding - whether it is diet, epidurals, cesareans or breastfeeding.

      It's easy to lose track of the fact that a reasonably balanced lifestyle (without fanaticism) and a loving and supportive environment create the best conditions for raising children. It's not a competition.

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    3. Dianna Arthur
      Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Sue Ieraci

      I do agree.

      Women don't need to be oppressed by men when other women already do such a good job.

      However, would like to see more publicity on the effects of smoking on sperm count, erectile function, DNA mutation and all things that can and do affect men as fathers. That's the thing about the blame game, everyone comes out looking a little "filthy".

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    4. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Dianna Arthur

      Well said, Diana (only don't take the name of the immortal Three Stooges in vain again or I'll have to challenge you to step outside!)

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    5. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Citizen SG

      He could smoke elsewhere. Nobody can smoke outside their own body. His options are easy;hers are not.

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    6. Dianna Arthur
      Dianna Arthur is a Friend of The Conversation.

      Environmentalist

      In reply to Felix MacNeill

      Felix

      I was well aware of treading upon sacred ground by invocation of the holy trinity. In order to make a point sometimes a woman has to do what a woman has to do.

      Cheers

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  10. Charles Arthur Davies

    logged in via Facebook

    "However, castigating pregnant women like Chrissie Swan also presents deeper social and political risks for feminists who would rather not fuel fetal rights ideology.

    The mixing of moral judgements against smoking and public health messages is dangerous because all of a sudden it becomes legitimate to intervene in the maternal-fetal relationship on behalf of the fetus."

    Seems to me that only a person with vested interests in obfuscation would attempt to conflate the wellbeing of a desired potential viable human being with that of an unwanted parasitic growth, so tell me how it suddenly becomes illegitimate to argue for a healthy growing environment for the child, just because it develops from a fetus?
    By all means, let's get rid of the drug pushers that harm our unborn generations of , hopefully , more rational humans.
    Castigating an addict for their habit seems to not be all that productive , but I'm pretty sure that more education never hurt anyone.

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    1. Felix MacNeill

      Environmental Manager

      In reply to Charles Arthur Davies

      Guess, you've never been a smoker (or other addict) Charles?

      How long is it going to take for people to realise that education can be pretty effective against ignorance, but is of very little use - if not actually counter-productive - against addiction.

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    2. Joy Johnston

      Midwife at Aitex Private Midwifery Services

      In reply to Charles Arthur Davies

      I have read this conversation with interest, and would like to speak briefly on the point of what has been called 'castigating' pregnant women.
      Although I am guilty (without remorse) of using the phrase 'filthy habit', when referring to (any) cigarette smoking, I was writing about the issue, not to the person. My response was to the original article, which I felt lacked acknowledgment of serious health implications. I directed my comments to the writer of the article (who I suppose is looking for comment, since that seems to be the point of this site), and other readers. I do not have any sense of addressing the person, Chrissy Swan.
      Some of the responders seem to assume that any comments made at this site are equivalent to direct and heartless criticism of a person to their face. This is not likely to be the case. Had Ms Swan sent a message of response, and identified herself as being a part of this conversation, I expect the tone of many comments would have been different.

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    3. Emma Anderson

      Artist and Science Junkie

      In reply to Joy Johnston

      I don't want to put words into Ms Swan's mouth but were I her, I'd probably be busy dealing with morning sickness, back pain, tiredness, hormones and all the other things that happen during pregnancy. I'd probably be considering that this debate would continue regardless of my response in the matter and pursuing it would be a source of stress (bad for fetal health) and stress is also a common motivator for picking up a smoke (also bad for fetal health).

      If Ms Swan never replies it is her prerogative and to me at least, it's a sign she's doing her best to put her kid first. Let her be. This isn't really about her anyway.

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    4. Chris Saunders

      retired

      In reply to Joy Johnston

      “I felt lacked acknowledgment of serious health implications”. I thought there was plenty of that in her link “big no-no”. But when I went into her other one “have been ineffective”, I must admit reading through chapter 3 before a morning brew was a bit eye dartingly hard, but distinctly gained the impression that maybe the jury was still possibly out. And then when I found the ABS stats it seemed like we were still looking at the mother weight/baby weight correlation of 4 decades ago. But as I say all of this on a quick sleep befuddled read may really have happened before I actually woke up.

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  11. Alex Njoo

    Architect/academic (ret.)

    If the smoking pregnant woman was not a faux celebrity, would the photographer bother to take a picture. "The medium is the message" - someone once said. In this instance, the message has been trampeled by the medium. We do live in interesting times.

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    1. Laura Coulter

      Practitioner

      In reply to Alex Njoo

      the NSW EO of Women's health agrees with you Alex:

      "...thousands of women smoked throughout their pregnancies during the sixties and seventies and yet still managed to produce a generation which is as healthy as any other," she said.

      "The difference is they are not in the public spotlight like Chrissie Swan and I really feel for her."

      Ms Crozier said there there were countless other threats to unborn babies and fertility that nobody talked about.

      "Many men work with chemicals that contain…

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    2. Les McNamara

      Researcher

      In reply to Laura Coulter

      Crozier is saying that its OK to smoke while pregnant because your mum smoked in the 70s, because some people don't stand up on the bus, and because there are lots of other things that hurt unborn babies.

      Great.

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    3. Laura Coulter

      Practitioner

      In reply to Les McNamara

      I didn't read this Les. Though I can see that would be one perspective.

      My understanding was that Crozier is saying that many people, many times, in many contexts, do things which are potentially risky for fetus', babies, children. But that she perceives that smokers - and in particular female celebrities - seem to have become a socially sanctioned and "legitimate target" for abuse and vilification.

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    4. Les McNamara

      Researcher

      In reply to Laura Coulter

      Hi Laura. Yes. I agree that that was the intention, and few would disagree with Crozier on that. But I think the point could have been made without being so utterly dismissive of the physical health effects. Her statements may as well have been prepared by the tobacco industry.

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    5. Alex Njoo

      Architect/academic (ret.)

      In reply to Laura Coulter

      Nobody in their right mind would condone smoking in any circumstance. My point is that the media-driven furore about Chrissie Swan's public confession (sic) has nothing to do with the health hazard of smoking. It's simply camouflaging important issues with trivial pursuits. Similarly, our political landscape is dominated by a hysterical, sensational-seeking popular media. No intelligent discussions on anything can come out of this morass of propaganda and lies.

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  12. Les McNamara

    Researcher

    "As Swan said in her public statement, the stress of the demands associated with her job, of moving house, and constant travel all contributed to her smoking."

    What kind of an explanation is this? Unemployed single mothers living on welfare in public housing estates, without a support network, who can't afford taxi fares let alone air travel - now they have stress.

    And this from her manager: "Chrissie is horrified and heartbroken she couldn't find the strength to quit whilst pregnant". I'm…

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  13. Colleen South

    logged in via Facebook

    Yes lay off Chrissie Swan! It's all ok if you choose abortion/death for the unborn, but if not, then you must become Madonna (the virgin one), and perfect at every moment. My mum chain smoked through 13 pregnancies and had not one premature baby nor anydevelopmentally delayed/unhealthy children. Even as adults we're a healthy lot. The same creepy wowsers who attacked you over you weight are behind this latest. Just relax Chrissie. The uptight wasps who made this culture are just looking for a target.

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    1. Gordon Smith

      Private citizen

      In reply to Susan Ross

      I agree Susan. Whilst not condoning smoking when pregnant many of my generation(50's) had parents who smoke drank and did not breast feed.
      The reality is that many grew up without any measurable adverse effects.
      A vast majority of us are/were 'good enough' parents as a famous therapist winnicott would say.

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  14. Alex Njoo

    Architect/academic (ret.)

    This avalanche of comments on Chrissie Swan's (by now a real celebrity!) smoking habit proves my point. Can we now move onto more important issues, e.g. what happens to Australia when Mr. Abbott eventually becomes PM on the backs of a right-wing media conglomerate? Please?

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    1. Mike Swinbourne

      logged in via Facebook

      In reply to Alex Njoo

      Whilst I agree that it is a minor issue Alex, I would like to think that we are able to discuss more than one issue at a time.

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  15. Michelle G

    Health Writer

    I’m disappointed that this article was published on this website and that other media are using this event to justify smoking during pregnancy. This morning I actually heard a radio announcer say something along the lines of: “Oh I’m sure any doctor would agree that smoking five cigarettes a week won’t do any long term damage to the baby.” Disgusting.

    I don’t care about this particular person, her shame or her motivations any more than I care about the next pregnant smoker. I care that this has…

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  16. Andrew McEwin

    Teacher

    I can't believe why people don't understand the real issue here. We have a obese, smoking while pregnant, TV presenter, who is in the public eye and who children watch and look up to. She constantly criticises others for bad behaviour such as football players and models.
    Who do we prefer as a role model?
    A) A lying, smoking, obese, healthy person hater or
    B) Andrew Johns? or some other person fired for lesser crimes

    At least one of them affected someone else consensually

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    1. Kim Darcy

      Analyst

      In reply to Andrew McEwin

      Indeed. A couple of years of go, Today Tonight would have been chasing her down back streets, film camera shaking, journo yelling, "bogans like you shouldn't be allowed to breed".

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  17. Anthony Nolan

    logged in via email @hotmail.com

    "It is for this reason that Chrissie Swan’s plight presents difficult questions for feminists."

    A clear sign of a philosophy that has completely and totally lost its way.

    My first response to the header was "who the eff is Chrissie Swan?" Then I find out that she's a "public person" working for Ch 10. The last time I watched Ch 10 it was like eating a bucket of puke. Now it occurs to me that she's been very successful at promoting attention to herself with this admission of smoking while pregnant.

    Very, very confusing for feminism.

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  18. Nick Kermode

    logged in via email @hotmail.com

    If Chrissie Swan had stood up at the Logie awards and said she refused to accept her award as she is against people making public judgements of her I would say lay off her, but since she didn't I say live by the sword, die by the sword.

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  19. Emma Anderson

    Artist and Science Junkie

    Yeah, smoking sucks. And doing stuff while pregnant that is known to harm the fetus is irresponsible.

    But why stop at smoking. She was in a car, an object that pumps out tonnes of pollution, which also negatively impacts fetal health. But why stop there. Why not look at the CO going into the atmosphere and impacting ACG, which will have adverse consequences for the kids entire life. Just by sitting in a car, she's not just ruining her kids life, but everyone else's too.

    Why not have a…

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