So you are a woman. And you like to drink. Careful! The Center for Disease Control of the United States says that you are at a risk of giving birth to a child with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs). Around 3.3 million women in America between the ages 15-44 drink, are sexually active and do not use contraception, and the center thinks that they are at the highest risk of giving birth to babies with disability.
“It is critical for healthcare 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,” said Coleen Boyle, director of CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (Mashable)
But what in seven heavens has drinking got to do with getting pregnant? Or is the CDC suggesting that women who drink are more likely to have sex that could lead to the inception of a new life?
I mean, it is understandable that women who are pregnant or are at least planning a baby must refrain from having alcohol, since it is a chemical imbalance that we are inducing in our bodies. But as for women who are sexually active and are not using contraception, this recommendation seems a tad bit sexist.
With absence of liberal abortion laws in the region, this step also comes as quite natural. Approximately half the pregnancies in the region are unplanned, according to NYT. Even in developed hegemonies like the States, there is constant control over women’s sexuality, which puts their behaviour and choices in the public sphere under perpetual scrutiny. The job of public health official seems to be deeply influenced by the political propagandas.
While alternatives could have included better communication of risks, there could have a different paradigm of research that would have focussed on finding solutions to accommodate the changing lifestyle patterns of women. This recommendation is of no use, as long as it doesn’t put into perspective the opinions and choices of the group that is most affected by the whole process of child-bearing, ie. women.
We can only hope that someone running the presidential race would look into the matter and make it their agenda. Most eyes are on you, Hilary Clinton!