I feel gross right now. Even just typing that headline makes me terribly uncomfortable. Yesterday, the CDC released a statement with apparently good intentions, but with disastrous implications. In an effort to decrease fetal alcohol syndrome, they “recommended” that women who are of childbearing age and not on birth control need to stop drinking. Ummmm…
The press release stated:
“An estimated 3.3 million women between the ages of 15 and 44 years are at risk of exposing their developing baby to alcohol because they are drinking, sexually active, and not using birth control to prevent pregnancy, according to the latest CDC Vital Signs report released today. The report also found that 3 in 4 women who want to get pregnant as soon as possible do not stop drinking alcohol when they stop using birth control.
About half of all pregnancies in the United States are unplanned, and even if planned, most women won’t know they are pregnant for the first month or so, when they might still be drinking. The risk is real. Why take the chance?”
There are so many things wrong with this statement. While it doesn’t seem like a bad idea to stop drinking if a woman purposefully stopped using birth control if she was trying to become pregnant, it also seems strange to tell all women everywhere to stop just because they can get pregnant. Sometimes birth control also fails–sometimes, women get pregnant with no intention of having a child even if they are taking precautions. Because life happens, and life isn’t always neat and pretty. This doesn’t mean their lives should stop.
While I would never recommend any woman knowingly put her unborn baby at risk (or herself!), it also seems outrageously archaic and blatantly sexist to suggest how women should live, especially when it comes to their bodies. It also implies that women are basically just baby incubators. Who cares about women’s desires, circumstances, and life choices? Basically, this means that women shouldn’t drink alcohol, ever, because you might become pregnant one day.
Normally, I’d be all about health warnings, but I can’t really stand behind this one.