Should servers deny pregnant women alcohol?
Do you ever see a pregnant woman enjoying a glass of wine or beer?
According to new guidelines released by the New York City Commission on Human Rights, pregnant women are legally allowed to order a drink when they walk into a bar. For the first time, city officials are explicitly prohibiting restaurants and bars from refusing alcoholic drinks to new mothers-to-be.
If a bar were to refuse a pregnant woman an alcoholic beverage, the bar or restaurant would be guilty of discrimination under the city’s Human Rights Law, officials say. “While covered entities may attempt to justify certain categorical exclusions based on maternal or fetal safety, using safety as a pretext for discrimination or as a way to reinforce traditional gender norms or stereotypes is unlawful,” the guidance released by the Commission on Human Rights says.
“Every woman who is pregnant or trying to get pregnant – and her partner – want a healthy baby. But they may not be aware that drinking any alcohol at any stage of pregnancy can cause a range of disabilities for their child,” said Coleen Boyle, Ph.D., director of CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, in a CDC news release. “It is critical for health care providers to assess a woman’s drinking habits during routine medical visits; advise her not to drink at all if she is pregnant, trying to get pregnant or sexually active and not using birth control, and recommend services if she needs help to stop drinking.”
But like New York City’s Human Rights Commission, some health care providers acknowledge the potential risks while defending a woman’s right to determine her own behavior.
“While the CDC recommends that women who may become pregnant or are pregnant do not consume alcoholic beverages, the right to drink as an adult female stills lies with the pregnant women,” says Donna Ackerman, nurse director of perioperative and OB/GYN Services at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, Ill.
Mary Terry, an OB nurse manager at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital agrees.
“No matter what the evidence shows, it is still up to the mother to make the decision to use or not use alcohol during her pregnancy,” Terry says. “It is not up to the server or bartender to enforce laws regarding a pregnant woman’s choices.”
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