New Law Says Bartenders Must Serve Pregnant Women & That's a Good Thing

pregnant woman

Bartenders in New York City now have to serve you a stiff drink whether you're pregnant or not. And that's a great thing for women everywhere. Why? Because no one's rights should end at the moment of conception, regardless of a stranger's judgment about our choices.


No one is advocating for heavy drinking during pregnancy. And opinions between doctors vary about the dangers of alcohol while you're pregnant, so let's not debate that here.

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With its new set of regulations, the New York City Human Rights Commission is trying to push back on discrimination against pregnant women. The primary aim of these new rules doesn't have anything to do with alcohol -- the goal is to help pregnant women seek reasonable accommodation at work (as long as it doesn't place an "undue burden" on the employer). For example, allowing expectant moms to make little changes like eating desk lunches, tweaking their hours unexpectedly, or taking small additional breaks. But the side effect is a chipping away at the idea that a woman, her well-being, and her choices somehow become subject to public scrutiny the moment she gets pregnant. And one way expectant moms may be treated differently than everyone else is when a bartender refuses to serve them a drink.

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As points out, some US states still allow detaining and prosecuting expectant mothers who abuse alcohol or illicit drugs. But setting mothers aside from the rest of society, as a subset with a different set of rules, is gender discrimination at its most fundamental. Women don't stop being human beings the moment the egg is fertilized -- and our bodies do not magically become public property the moment a zygote moves in. And any rules that institutionalize treating pregnant women as "other" pose far more restriction than potential upside.

Okay, I'll grant you the pregnant-lady parking spaces are pretty sweet, but what about when that little perk starts to come with other special treatments, like gyms telling you how pregnant you can be to work out? Or what if at some point the local police decide pregnant chicks are too fragile to drive? It's a slippery slope.

There's nothing feminist about fetal alcohol syndrome, and just because women can belly up to the bar during their third trimester doesn't mean 1 OAK is going to start having late-night Lamaze meet-ups. But these new regulations do assert that pregnant women's bodies are their own. And anyone who thinks they know better might want to think twice about imposing their views on women -- whether we're knocked up or not.

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Most women who've been through a pregnancy can tell you how odd it is to have strangers feel our bellies without even asking, or giving us  unsolicited advice. But what's merely poor manners between individuals rises to the level of institutionalized discrimination when it comes from a local or state government. And it shouldn't be tolerated by anyone, regardless of their opinion on pregnant women and booze. 


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