Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Medicalization of Childbirth

Last week, I finished watching "The Business of Being Born". Ricki Lake did this documentary to highlight the differences in treatment she had with her two children. One was done at the hospital, and ended up as a Cesarean. One was at home, with a midwife, and it was videotaped.

Interspaced between this was some history of childbirth, particularly in the United States. Starting at around the turn of the century, births shifted from something that was at home, to something that was done at a hospital. This shift was not because medical science was particularly good at childbearing (or really, because it was even as midwifery) but because an interesting intersection that we all know and love: capitalism, sexism, and racism. Doctors at the time went on a massive advertising campaign, aimed at telling women that other women were not as good at delivering babies as they were. That these Russian, German, and other immigrant women just wanted your money, and you were a bad mother if you didn't go to the hospital to get a delivery done there. Interestingly enough; it was not actually safer to go to the hospital, if you were in labor. Midwifery had been around for awhile, women knew how to deliver babies. They, at the very least, knew that you washed your hands before you went to the next birth, something that doctors at the time considered immaterial. Midwifes also knew to listen to a pregnant women when she was in labor, as opposed to putting up a sheet and ignoring her. They also knew that squatting, or in water, was an easier and safer way to give birth then lying on one's back, where you have to not only have to work against your body, but gravity (but hey, with your legs like that, it was easier for the doctor).

It then went on to talk about "twilight sleep" or "zombie sleep". For those of you who are unfamiliar (and I certainly was before I saw this) twilight sleep was when a women came to the hospital, and then was injected with morphine and scopolamine. Now, supposedly this was to kill pain; but what it really did was put pregnant women into an alternate state of mind, so that they forgot the labor pains. They also forgot the labor. And how to control their own body. Women had to be tied down to the bed, (with sheepskin, so that they wouldn't leave big bruises or scratches). Watching the videos were again horrific: a women, tied to a bed, thrashing about, with a curtain at her midsection, and four white guys staring intently at her uterus. For something that is normally held as one of the most feminine of experiences, it was eerily impersonal.*

The movie then continued to show the difference between medical birth and midwifery. For one thing, the births done with a midwife seemed a whole lot less painful. The midwife was there the whole time, as opposed to a doctor who showed up at the last second. The position seemed more comfortable as well; if the woman wanted to get up and walk around, she was allowed to. If she wanted to squat, she squatted. With a midwife, they listened to what the women said she wanted. With the doctors, it seemed as if the doctor told her what she wanted.

Not to say that the movie was Luddite, at all. Every midwife there said that she was grateful that there was the knowledge of obstetricians out there, for the complicated births. But they all made mention that, 9 times out of 10, women did not need to go to the doctor. That first and foremost, those doctors are surgeons, and sometimes do unnecessary cesareans out of misplaced concern, or because of time constraints, that is not actually healthy for the mother or the new baby. They compared infant mortality in the United States with other countries in Europe where it was far more common to have a midwife, and lo and behold, the US has more infant deaths then Europe. However, they never proved a causal relationship; there are a variety of reasons why that might be.

Among the problems of medicalization they talked about, one was talking about how the introduction of medicine was playing weird problems with women's hormones. First, a women is given an epidural, for the pain. But an epidural numbs more than just pain, it also makes it more difficult to have contractions. So then, a women is given pitocin, which is a synthetic form of oxytocin (the birthing hormone). Pitocin has some major problems though: first, the contractions it causes are longer, and stronger (and therefore more painful). Also, it can constrict bloodflow to the uterus, so that the fetus has less oxygen flowing to it. So, to numb the pain, they give the women another epidural. And this starts the cycle again, until the fetus goes into distress (and the mother is also pretty distressed at this point as well). At this point, they rush the women to get a Cesarean, leaving a scar in the women, an increased risk of infection, and a now-distressed baby.

A few things struck me watching this film, in no particular order:

1) Why does any women ever (well, with Tom Beatty make that any person) ever get and stay pregnant long enough to give birth? Seriously, even with the midwife, water births, were it just seemed like a grunt and slip, and "ooo, baby" it still seemed painful, long, and full of viscera. This movie made me hug my orthotricyclin like no one's business.

2) This movie was far too crunchy for my tastes. I can see why childbirth is a unique experience for women, because it is generally just women that can do it. But seriously, I prefer the ideas they mention at the end a lot better: where hospitals have birthing centers, where midwifes work. You can have your birth in a water way, or at the very least squatting, but you are still at the hospital if you are that 1 in 10 case that needs emergency help.

3) What is it with some guys and their seemingly uncontrollable urges to take women's experiences and define them/ control them? First you have medical doctors saying that women don't actually know what's going on for pregnancy, and then you have guys making laws about when it's okay for us to have an abortion, and guys who think that birth control is emasculating, and guys who seem to think they know what happens during PMS better than women. It's really annoying; I don't assume to know what it's like to have blue balls, why should they assume they have any IDEA what it's like to go around in a feminine fleshy meatbag?

This movie is one that I think people should definitely watch** (if you have a netflix account, it's instantly downloadable, by the way). It shows a very interesting perception of childbirth, from women's point of view.

*Interestingly enough, the feminists at the time held up scopolamine as a liberation. The movie made mention that at the time, childbirth was still thought as something that should be as painful as possible, for the "curse of eve". The feminist at the time, saw this as an opportunity to not have to suffer through childbirth, and jumped on the opportunity to show that no, childbirth was painful because there wasn't the medicine to fix it, not because of any Biblical curse. Next time an anti-choicer shows up saying that early feminists were against abortion (which they should have been, because at the time an abortion had more of a chance of killing you than childbirth), point out that they also supported drugging women during childbirth. We are all a part of the time we grew up in, bound by some of those mindsets and technologies.

**If you're like me, you'll watch most of this movie through slits in your fingers. Seriously, think horror movie viscera, and then imagine in that in your most sensitive parts.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Comments Policy Redux

Jake, our resident troll, has reminded me through his actions that it is time to update my my comments policy. Now, for those of you have been reading for awhile may remember that I reserve the right to delete any and all comments that I think are abusive, too stupid, or basically not interesting any more. If you are worried about free speech, start your own damn blog and spew to your heart's content. My blog is like my house; if I don't like you, I have no reason to let you stay here.

But, inspired by the great time they've been having at Shakesville, I've decided to mimic their policy slightly. If you post an email address, your comment will either stay as is, or be deleted. If you post anonymously, and I decide that you are an annoying little troll, I get to change your post as I see fit.

Friday, April 18, 2008


First I was a human baby.

But not to long after that I was-


I was dressed in pink and my name ended in an “a”.

Next there was “girl child”

With skirts and dolls,

I learned about drag

By turning Barbie into a parachuter

Mom and Dad told me to stop climbing trees

Later, when I learned colors,

Green, blue, red-

I learned I was another thing;


I learned about this nice guy named Jesus

And his mean father God

My parents told me that I was


Then there was “student”

And I was told how good I was at English

The A’s in math were glossed over

I did like to read

The first identity I took-

Book-worm, smart, geek


Ignore the perfect spiral I could throw

Then there were the throes of puberty

My body rebelled,

And I developed things-

Boobs, hips, blood,

And a new word was pushed on me

(As true as it wasn’t)


I thought about who I was

And who I wasn’t

And choose my labels for myself





But, From everyone else

I am still






And I never got back my first label


Goddess Cassandra is moving up

Well, the awesome Marc of Punkassblog has invited me to blog at his house, so I'm heading over. Fear not, I shall continue to blog here, I shall just hope that my pontification shall be to a larger audience.

Monday, April 07, 2008

What I end up getting on UND's crappy search engine

UND has the most out-of-date, random search engine. Tomorrow, we are going to have a symposium on the rights of a child, and I wanted to know if there was a more comprehensive list than the flyer I have. When I went searching for it, I found this. UND has plenty of "pro-life" organizations, but I hadn't seen this one before (I didn't know we had ANY other organization claiming to be feminist on campus, besides the Pro-Choice Voice). Since my laptop died, and I can't write on Truth Commissions until I'm out of work, I figured I'd write about this. (The original is in italics, my response in normal writing).

ProWoman Answers to ProChoice Questions Talking Points
· No woman deserves to have an abortion.

No person deserves to have an surgery. It's not a matter of "deserving" anything, it's just one of those things we have to do. I don't "deserve" to scrub toilets, but if I want a nice-smelling bathroom I have to.
· "It's our body. It's our choice." That translates into "It's our problem."

Generally, yeah. Having a female body means that we have female "problems". This includes periods, breasts, and the possibility of pregnancy. Guys have their own problems.
· Abortion advocates pit women against children. Lack of resources and support are the real enemies.

Really? Feminists don't support women and children?
· We need to systematically eliminate the root causes of abortion primarily lack of practical resources and emotional support.
No argument here.

Avoid diversions from what is important Those who oppose our prowoman, prolife position often bring up ancillary issues they believe will cast us in a negative light. Be prepare to reject the confrontational, negative tactics and reinforce our woman centered message and solutions.

Okay, I'll try and stay on topic
· Sometimes you are talking to a woman who has had an abortion. She may assume that you are choosing a baby over women or condemning her. Never attack the questioner.

· Acknowledge the reasons that drive women to abortion, but emphasize that abortion is
not the answer. Women need holistic solutions and deserve real support.

Rape and incest
· It is normal to wish you could erase a painful experience such as rape. The woman deserves our support. · Abortion is a second act of violence against the woman. It doesn't erase the memory.

Abortion isn't an act of violence if a woman wants it. Much like sex is not an act of violence if it is consensual, but IS an act of violence when it's non-consensual, a wanted abortion is not harmful. When a woman is raped, and becomes pregnant, the pregnancy can be a violation of that's woman's body, over and over again. She now has to have her body overtaken by a foreign body, risk her health, her job, and her station in society. Abortion isn't going to erase the memory, it'll merely stop the continuing violation. If she chooses to continue the pregnancy, because she feels like that'll help her get over the rape, that is her CHOICE, and should be supported. Much like the difference between sex and rape is consent, the difference between a wanted pregnancy and an unwanted pregnancy is worlds apart.
· We should punish the perpetrator of the crime, not the victims.

Duh. I would even go a step further and say that we should try and prevent rape by empowering women and teaching guys that consent is the presence of a "yes" not an absence of a "no". But, as it stands, rape prosecution is really, really, really low. And that still doesn't address the fact that a rape victim is still pregnant, and if she doesn't want to be, it is a continuing violation.
· One Vanderbilt med student told other students that the "abortion was worse than the rape."

So? I still can't figure out how this is an argument.
· Pregnancy is not a punishment. Julie Makimaa's mother ("Victory Over Violence" issue of The American Feminist) told her that she was the "only good thing to come out of the rape."
Good for her. I'm glad she was capable of finding peace from her experience. That doesn't mean that every one will, or should.

· When someone asks about exceptions for rape and incest, we must think of how that
makes those feel who were conceived through sexual assault. As one Berkeley grad student said to her prochoice peers, "I have a right to be here."
Yes, she does. Most of the time, we can point to some random negative experience that can result in our birth. My random experience was my mom had ovarian cancer, and was told she wasn't able to have kids for at least five years after the surgery. If my mom wouldn't have ovarian cancer, she would have been using birth control, and quite possibly I wouldn't have existed. That doesn't mean that I don't have a right to exist, it merely means that it was her choice if she wanted to continue the pregnancy after the random bad thing happen (RBT= ovarian cancer). Some of them are more negative than another, such as the case of the Berkeley student born of rape. Her mother choose to have her, that gave her the right to exist. That's really all there is to it: we have the right to exist because our mother choose to bear us. Looking into the conditions of our conception is really silly: if my mom wouldn't have ovarian cancer, I wouldn't have existed, but I still want to eliminate ovarian cancer. If her mother wouldn't have been raped, she wouldn't have existed, but I still wish to eliminate rape.

· Rebecca Wasser Kiessling, a young attorney and mother who was conceived through
sexual assault asks, "Did I deserve the death penalty?"

For what? You can't get the death penalty until you actually exist.
· Could you look at someone conceived in violence and tell him or her they never should have been born?

No, because it wasn't up to me on whether or not they should have been born. That's up to the woman who actually bore them into existence.

What if your daughter was pregnant?
· I would love her and support her unconditionally and welcome my grandchild into this world.

Would you still love her and support her unconditionally if she didn't want to give birth?
What if your daughter was raped? · I would love her and my grandchild unconditionally, and I would do everything in my power to prosecute the perpetrator to the fullest extent of the law.
Same question.

Imposing values and morality on others/What gives you the right to tell women what to
· Our values are based on principles of nonviolence and nondiscrimination.

· I simply believe that we can do better for women. Don't you?

Um, I don't know how you can "do better" for women then letting them have autonomy over their body.

Don't women need to control their own lives?
· Obviously if she were truly in control and did not want to be pregnant then she wouldn't be pregnant. The question now is, what is the best possible nonviolent outcome for her?
Obviously, birth control fails, or women aren't always educated on how to use it, or are raped. There are things outside of our control; but this is one way to put it back under our control. And, to reiterate, abortion is not a violent act.

Don't you respect women enough to allow her to make a choice?
· Women do not have abortions as a matter of choice, but because they feel they have no support or resources to support a different choice. A coerced decision is not a free choice; it's a last resort.
Yeah, some women do have abortions as a matter of choice. We should, of course, offer support if they want to raise children. That's where the "choice" part of it does come in- there is more than abortion. But, abortion is also an option: if a woman doesn't want to be pregnant, she shouldn't be forced to be.

· We support nonviolent
choices single motherhood, fatherhood, grandparenthood, marriage and various adoption options. · A society that promotes abortion as a necessity underestimates women.
Abortion will always be a necessity for some women. There will always be pregnancy complications, there will always be birth control failure, there will always be women who don't want to be pregnant for any given reason. This isn't "promotion" this is just a fact.

What if her partner, friends or family abandoned her?
· Lack of support often coerces women into abortion. She needs to know that there are perfect strangers out there who will care for her even if those she counts on the most have let her down.· She also needs to know about child support laws that prohibit coercion by the father by physical force or threats to withhold child support.
Okay, I can't really say anything against this. We should support a woman if she wants to continue a pregnancy and have a child. But, the key phrase is "if she WANTS to".

What if she is poor?
· We do not eliminate poverty by eliminating poor women's children. It is degrading to poor women to expect or imply that their children aren't welcome.
No one ever said that abortion will eliminate poverty. But, if you don't have the resources to continue a pregnancy, or support a child; they aren't going to magically appear after the fact.

· She needs to know that there are pregnancy care centers listed in the abortion
alternatives section of the yellow pages that provide direct assistance and coordinate public and private assistance.
A bag of diapers and some heavy moralizing doesn't get rid of the expense of a pregnancy, and later a child.

She "just doesn't want it"
· It's always more complicated than that. We can address each of her concerns working together for peaceful solutions.
No, sometimes it really is that simple. Sometimes a woman just doesn't want to be pregnant. It's good enough for me, really.

You are antiwoman
· Abortion destroys that which makes us women.
Um, what? What makes us a woman has nothing to do with capable of being pregnant. And autonomy is what makes us HUMAN.

· As Alice Paul, the original author of the Equal Rights Amendment, said, "Abortion is the
ultimate exploitation of women."
Okay, I keep looking for the context of this quote, and I cannot find it. The only quote I can find is on "pro-life" sites. Not that it matters; it's a general appeal to authority, and as such, a logical fallacy.

· Abortion is a reflection that we have failed women and
women have settled for less.
Um, what?

The "morning after" pill, so called "emergency contraception"
· The "morning after" pill is basically a megadose of chemicals.

Well, it's not really a "megadose", but close enough. The morning after pill is basically birth control pill.
· There has been no testing or information about the longterm effects of these drugs on women and future children.

Well, the FAA approved it, and there is no reason to suggest that it will have any long-term ill-effects. So far, nothing has come of it. It's okay to be hesitant, but seriously, that's why we have the FAA in the first place.

· Rather than being a simple, private alternative to surgical abortion, it actually requires three or four visits to a doctor.

Well, the idea is that you don't have to get, you know a surgery. Any time you get a surgery, you risk infection- there's less of risk of infection with RU486. But, yes, it requires at least 2 visits to the doctor, and sometimes more because of insane "waiting period" laws.

· Women may suffer the trauma of aborting at home or work and seeing a recognizablefetus.

Some women may, not all women. There is no way that you'll see a recognizable fetus. RU486 can only work to the 9th week, and that's pushing it for most doctors. At 9 weeks, a fetus is about 9 mm big and looks like this.

· Men wouldn't tolerate a drug this potentially dangerous and ineffective. Why should

Yeah they would. See: Viagra. See: Steriods.

· If a miscarriage is one of the worst things a woman can experience, then intentionally
inducing an abortion is a reflection that we have failed her.

There is a world of difference between a wanted pregnancy and an unwanted one. In a miscarriage, women are looking forward to having a child. In an unwanted pregnancy, the women feels her very body has rebelled against her.

Abortion ·
abortion requires three days of coerced labor. · Women are awake during the delivery and witness their children's brains being removed from their children's skulls. How will this affect women emotionally and psychologically?

Late-term abortions are generally done because there were major problems, such as the fetus is already dead, or that the pregnancy will kill the mother, or the fetus has horrible abnormalities. I don't doubt that this would be fairly horrific for the woman involved, particularily considering most of these would be wanted pregnancy. But, outlawing it just puts women's lives in danger.

· The procedure can damage the cervix, contributing to multiple miscarriages in the future.

See above.

if the fetus is or could be disabled?
· If actual or potential disability is a reason to devalue children before birth, what cruel
message does this send to disabled people who are already born?

I agree, this is a bad reason to have an abortion (for me). But, I'm not the one who's pregnant, so I'm not the one who gets to decide. This is one of those things that must, must be up to the woman. Anything less is an encroachment on a woman's bodily soverignty.

Aren't there enough children in this world, and what about those in foster care?
· There are two million vetted American couples awaiting adoption. Many of the children waiting to be adopted are waiting because of legal processes, not lack of loving homes. · The population in this country has increased because of legal and illegal immigration andlongevity not births. Forty million abortions in 30 years have not enriched our country.

Seeing as forty million abortions allowed women to be secure in their own bodies, yeah, I'd say that's an enrichment. And yes, there are enough children in the world- The USA is not "the world".

Make abortion rare
· They say they want to make abortion rare but available. Why would you want to make something rare unless it is bad?

Lines like this make me want to be overly snarky. But, the snark-less answer is because "abortions are not fun". I want abortions to be rare, just like I want heart surgery to be rare: so people don't have to go through either. I wouldn't want to ban heart surgery just because it's painful and gruesome: same applies to abortion.

We want to make abortion rare, unthinkable, and

Unthinkable? Nope, I want women to have a full range of options on what to do with their lives. I want to reduce the rate, so I guess I semi-agree with unnecessary, but that is never going to happen, and it definately hasn't happen now.

Personally opposed · Why are you opposed to it?

This may not apply to me, because I'm about 80% sure that if I was pregnant, I would be on a plane to Minneapolis so fast it would make one's head spin.

· If it is not good enough for you, why do you think it is good enough for other women?

I don't want to go to business school, either, but far be it for me to deny that to other women. Women are not interchangable: are values are each going to be individually different.

wouldn't wish an abortion on my worst enemy.

Um, I guess I wouldn't either (See above about abortion being not fun). But, if my worst enemy needed one, I would sure want her to be able to get one.

So you believe that a tiny speck a zygote, blastocyst, embryo or fetus has rights over a woman?
· I don't believe in discrimination based on size, age or location. Do you believe that a child has less of a right to exist because they are small?Are large or tall people more valuable than small or short people? If that is the case, most women should have fewer rights than men!

Have you ever asked a child if they ate all the cookies in a cookie tin, and they reply "Cookie monster eats cookies on tv"? I kind feel like that right now. This "answer" sort of sounds like it's answering the question, but in reality, has nothing whatsoever to do with the question.

· Fetus is a Latin word meaning "young child" or "young one." But in practice fetus is
becoming a clinical, dehumanized term for an unborn child. Imagine if some group tried to deny medical care for gravidas. Once someone figured out that was the Latin word for pregnant women, the bewilderment would quickly shift to outrage.

Fetus is the medical term for "the unborn young from the end of the eighth week after conception to the moment of birth, as distinguished from the earlier embryo." This is just what it is. The Latin meaning for something is no longer the English meaning for something, and in multiple cases, can have nothing to do with the original roots. Denying care for "gravidas" would be bad, because they are actually human beings. Interestingly enough, if you're denying pregnant women the abortion option, you are in fact denying them medical care.

If "it" can't feel pain
· Neonatal pain experts have testified before Congress that the younger one is, the more sensitive to pain they are and the unborn the most sensitive of all.

It's really hard to feel pain if you don't have a brain, or a functioning nervous system. They don't say who these experts are, or even when they testified at Congress, so I can't oppose that.

· Women feel the emotional and physical pain from an abortion, too.

Women feel emotional and physical pain from pregnancy and birth, as well.

Clinic violence
· Violent individuals do not represent the prolife movement any more than the Unabomber represents the environmental movement.

Okay, then I'd recommend distancing yourself from them.

A few final thoughts on confrontational situations · When confronted or insulted, don't take it personally. Take it as an opportunity to learn, share, educate and inform. · Look at the issue from a "prochoice" viewpoint. Point out how our approach actually gives women more choices by addressing the reasons that drive women to abortion.

You don't give women more choices by taking a choice away from them. This is a complete and utter failure to see anything from a "prochoice" side.

· Remember that those under 30 have never known a day without legalized abortion, and
it has been sold to them as a right, like owning slaves in other countries today, and in our country over a century ago. Challenge them to think for themselves. Don't be surprised when most of your listeners who expected to differ with you greatly end up saying, "I agree with 95% of what you are saying."

Well, I think I disagreed with more than 5% with them.

Obama and Clinton

I promised to write a blogpost about Obama and Clinton's speech's at the ND Democratic Convention last Friday, so here it is. Although the internet is supposed to be about "cutting-edge" events, I prefer to make a slower, thoughtful post after having some time to reflect. (Either that, or I procrastinated all weekend watching "Penn and Teller's Bullshit" on immediate download on Netflix).

First, a small point about why the ND Democrats suck: they have absolutely no ability to predict who is coming, and what to do about it. To go to the convention, you either had to talk to your district representative to get seats on the floor, or you had to go to the ND website to get a general seating ticket. If you got a general seating ticket (as I did), they sent you a generic ticket, which you could print four times. There was no limit on getting a ticket; ND does not register voters, so you could be a Republican, a Minnesotan, anyone to get the tickets, and they did not limit the number of the tickets either. In this email, they did not include things like what you could not bring into the auditorium (you couldn't bring food or drinks, and you also couldn't bring a backpack; the last one annoyed me even more, because people were bringing purses way larger than my backpack). They only had four metal detectors, and the lines up to the metal detectors were a holy mess (for godless sake, invest in a few poles and pieces of string).

Now, on to the speeches. Obama's speech was a speech about unitity and change; how we had the ability to make the world a better place. He was full of idealism and seemed genuinely concerned about the state of the country. He was all about the pathos; and the energy he created was palpable, with the noise never died down. His audience was college aged-students, and this was shown by letting the college-aged Democrats stand behind him (something Clinton did not do). He was endorsed by Dorgan, Conrad, and Pomeroy, the Congress people

Yet, his speech did not make very many substantive points. He said a lot of phrases that sounded good, but he did not actually say what he was going to do to improve the country. And while messages of unity, and across the aisle bipartisanship, basically sits unevenly with me. I do not actually think that bipartisanship is actually a universal good; it's good if it's for a politically neutral goal, but when it comes right down to it, I want to see "my" side win- I want to see the progressive agenda to get actual play in the United States. I'm not entirely sure how I can compromise with someone who sees me as less than a full citizen, as the Republican aisle does.

Senator Clinton's speech, on the other hand, was heavy on the logos- she was very specific on what she wanted to do, and her speech was peppered with facts and figures. She did have some jokes, the clip that keeps getting an insane amount of air time about how she and her husband don't hate rich people, was actually pretty well received. I was with there with my friend PE, and he said "I can't believe it- she actually has a sense of humor", which I had told him before but he didn't believe me because of the hatchet job she gets in the media.

Her's did not create the sense of energy; leaving the auditorium I heard a lot of college-aged students talking about how she was too long winded and was bogged down in details. Her plane was also late, so by the time she came here a few hundred people had already wandered away.

As for the predictions, Clinton only mentioned the Flood of '97 once, instead of twice. Otherwise, I was right on. Obama expressed how Clinton would be better than McCain, Clinton did not reciprocate.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Holy Crap!

Both Obama AND Clinton will be talking at the Democratic convention here in Grand Forks. I have tickets to go watch them, and I promise to blog about it after the fact (I don't think I can liveblog it, unfortunately). This is the biggest thing to happen to Grand Forks, politically, since...well, nothing really important politically happens here.

I'm not entirely sure why they are coming to the middle of no where North Dakota, but the most plausible theory is Obama is coming as a thank-you for Dorgan, Conrad, and Pomeroy for endorsing him, (and endorsing him early) and Clinton's coming because she cannot possible afford to lose anymore superdelegates.

Anyway, here are my predictions:
Hillary Clinton will mention the Flood if 1997 at least twice.
Obama will soft-peddle the race discussion, and instead focus on the economic problems.
Both canidates will avoid the reproductive rights issue ENTIRELY, unless they are going to answer questions (which I don't think they will) and someone asks. Then, they will say something vague about abortion being bad, but necessary.

Here's my hope, but I wouldn't bet on it:
Both canidates say that the other would be a ground-breaking president, and would be a solid leader.