The Real Question: Did She Breastfeed or Subject the Kid To Formula?


Readers of and commenters on yesterday's blog post, "Tat for Teat, or Baby Formula Not So Bad Really," look upon this pic and despair:

pregnant smoker.jpg

I'm more than willing to write the pic–which comes courtesy of Reason Foundation's Adrian Moore and–off as a fake, but certainly it puts yesterday's debate about breastfeeding vs. formula in a larger context.

NEXT: Puff, Puff, Access

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  1. God, reminds me of my environmental activist days… my co-workers were perpetually worried about lead, mercury and arsenic in the drinking water supply, but proceeded to smoke like chimneys. I never understood it.

  2. At least she isn’t riding a motorcycle without a helmet, eh? And how do you know she isn’t smoking a joint?

  3. I’ve seen this photo before, and I think it’s real. A Google search for Stephanie Klein-Davis shows she is indeed a photojournalist and has done work for the Roanoke paper.

  4. The heck with the cigarette. I wonder if a baby can suffer from second-hand ugly?

  5. MNG: That’s called “looking like its mother”

  6. I must say, she has a suberb smoking posture.

    She smokes like the finest of English gentlemen.

  7. Geez. I sent this photo around the office around a year ago.

  8. I remember this picture surfacing a year or two ago, and it is indeed real. At the time it originally began circulating, I tracked down the the newspaper and the story, and apparently a large number of people angrily wrote the newspaper about it (as if it was their fault the pregnant woman is smoking).

    Anyway, I recall that the paper went back and visited her, and asked, “are you aware of the controversy surrounding that picture we took of you?”, and she was not. She then explained (quote approximate), “people have been on my case for smoking for a long time now, and it’s none of their business”, proving of course that she’d missed the entire point.

  9. I just wish she had a big tumbler of whiskey in the other hand.

  10. There’s a difference between costs one imposes on oneself and costs imposed by an externality. If she views her fetus as merely a part of her body, then perhaps she didn’t miss the entire point.

    Consider the possibility that her mother was a smoker and the woman herself is happy with the way she turned out. Her rationale might be “mom smoked and it didn’t hurt me; she didn’t, however, have a jackhammer right outside her door.” That’s not the most scientific way to approach the question of risk, but it’s not irrational, especially when you consider the people who believe that playing Mozart increases their fetus’s eventual intelligence.

  11. I am reminded of this. Sad thing is how much that is familiar to my own behavior, I still don’t own a cell phone (radiation near my brain is not appealing), but smoke half a pack a day, drink to excess nearly every weekend and chug diet mountain dew.

    P.S. Not me, same initials, different last name.

  12. This picture supports something I’ve always said: People accept risks that they feel they can control and they are terrified of things over which they perceive they have no control. The degree of potential injury makes no difference whatsoever; it’s whether or not it can be controlled.

    Hence, this woman thinks nothing of smoking, which is probably the biggest threat to her baby’s health aside from heavy drinking, but she is outraged that her baby might be exposed to loud noise created by someone else.

    A more earthy Marine Corps metaphor for this attitude is “My shit doesn’t stink, yours is putrid”. Or something like that.

  13. I think if we tried really hard, we could make this into an abortion thread.

  14. The woman is obviously a hypochondriac. She needs to come to H&R for the cure.

  15. I bet her mother fed her formula.

  16. From the followup article:

    Dozens of calls and e-mails came to The Roanoke Times impugning her reputation and criticizing the paper for printing the photo. It glamorized or promoted smoking while pregnant, some people said.

    Yep, I can see that picture leading impressionable teenage girls to get pregnant and start smoking.

  17. Yep, I can see that picture leading impressionable teenage girls to get pregnant and start smoking.

    C’mon, Crimethink. That’s one glamorous picture, there.

  18. I just wish she had a big tumbler of whiskey in the other hand.

    Indeed. And also wearing a fez hat.

  19. Captain Holly,

    But people also avoid some risks that they control, so naturally the controllable ones that they choose to accept have been accepted for some reason, even if its non-articulated.

    If you partition all the risks into ones you can control (C) and ones you can’t (~C), then further partition C into the ones that you choose to avoid (A) and ones you don’t (~A), naturally there will be elements in ~C that are of bigger concern than all of the ones in ~A.

    An outside observer may find elements of your partitioning of C to be irrational, but that still won’t change the fact that it’s likely that there are elements in ~C that you’d choose to put in ~A were they under your control.

    Personally, I think the woman simply doesn’t like the sound of jackhammers and that colors her safety concerns, very similarly to the dislike of cigarette smoke coloring the safety concerns people have for second-hand smoke.

  20. That is funny.

    Taylor, if you’re going to earn your internship, you’re going to have to produce something more substantive than that. Like “excellent point, crimethink” for starters.

  21. Smoke in one hand and whiskey in the other. It would have been better if she were in a bikini .

  22. I remember as a kid in the 70s riding in the back of a pick up.

  23. Something tells me the reporter was being sardonic.

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