Pregnancy Shouldn't Be Called a Disability

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We've talked about stork parking on a few occasions here at The Stir, and I think many of us have agreed that while there are definitely times when it's nice to have some special accommodations during pregnancy, for the majority of women, it's not really necessary.

According to a law professor at the University of Dayton, however, all employers should treat pregnant women exactly as though they had a disabling medical condition. In fact, the idea is to expand the Americans With Disabilities Act to include pregnant women.

Never mind stork parking—under a revamped ADA, pregnant ladies might be able to pull right up to the handicapped spots.

The intent behind this proposal is to improve job security by requiring businesses to adhere to the ADA when it comes to pregnant employees. Meaning, they'd be legally bound to accommodate pregnant workers in a variety of ways, like providing more bathroom breaks and allowing them to drink water on the job.

It sounds a little insane to think there are businesses that don't let their employees stay hydrated, but I can see how in some circumstances a pregnant woman wouldn't be allowed to keep a bottle of water nearby. Retail jobs, for instance, typically frown on their employees guzzling from a giant Nalgene while helping customers.


So it's interesting to consider whether or not a typical pregnancy is really a disability. Obviously in some cases, there are medical conditions brought on by pregnancy, but is pregnancy itself an impairment? After all, the ADA defines a disability as "a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such individual."


When I was pregnant, I was definitely limited from my normal life activities of, say, wearing a non-elastic waistband or breathing through my nose without evoking the wistful sound of a migrating Canada goose, but there's no way I would have called myself disabled.


Then again, I had a pretty mellow office job where I could drink and pee all I wanted.


What's really bizarre about this whole thing is that it seems to go against the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. While both are intended to protect women's jobs, the Pregnancy Act requires employers to treat pregnant women the same as all other employees. Now here's a professor saying wait, no, treat them differently, because every pregnancy comes with physiological limitations.


It seems well-intentioned ... and also like one hell of a slippery slope. For most of us, pregnancy is a normal, healthy condition, not a disability. If a pregnant women develops a disabling condition, that's one thing, but labeling every pregnancy as a physical impairment seems like the wrong thing to do.


What's your take on the idea that the ADA should be expanded to include pregnancy?



Image via ADA

pregnancy health

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nonmember avatar Molly

I think it's important so that you can legally have the right to take care of yourself. I have actually heard of pregnant friends who can't go to the bathroom or have to stand all day. It's not fair.
I don't think all of the stork parking is necessary, especially since the only time it should really be needed is about about the 7th month when walking is a little more difficult, that would be taken advantage of by people not even showing yet and having no need for it.

Rhond... RhondaVeggie

It seems kinda nuts but thinking about it would have helped me a lot. My job did have some accommodations for pregnant women, being excused from heavy lifting comes to mind, but there were still occasions when we would butt heads. One of the assistant managers was a young guy and very ambitious and he complained several times about my pregnancy putting him out. I had to wear a wrist brace for a time because of carpal tunnel and he gave me crap about that. I took up too much space in the office for his liking. When he called me to the office I took too long to get there because I was almost at my due date and had killer sciatica so I was moving at a slow waddle at that point. Most of the other employees were parents too which helped but being able to tell him that his snarky comments were against the ADA would have been cool.

nonmember avatar Amber Todd

I think no matter where you work peeing and drinking water should be encouraged. I dont care what your job is.

PBJMama PBJMama

In no way do I consider pregnancy a disability, but accommodations also depend on the job. A pregnant woman can't exactly do a lot of heavy lifting after a certain point, so a physically demanding job would need to accommodate more than a desk job.

nonmember avatar Reagan

The only times I ever even used the pregnant parking spaces was when I was about to pee my pants and couldn't walk too far for the bathroom. Otherwise, I always try to park further from the door, more exercise and less nut jobs that may run carts or doors into my car

nonmember avatar Ruby O

I drove a semi cross country and lived on the truck with my spouse for a month at a time and came home a few days up til my third trimester. I was glad I still got loads and no one accommodated my condition. Lol I was healthy and later gave birth to a healthy baby.

nonmember avatar Angela

Although I dont consider pregnancy a disability, I agree with expanding the ADA to include pregnancy. Many employers do not care that a woman is pregnant and do not care to give any special treatment to pregnant women. For instance, I worked for a cellular company in retail sales. When I was 38 weeks pregnant I was called into the office and almost written up for "not getting up to greet customers" the thing is, we had a "Greeter" that was hired to do just that. I had worked at this job for 3 years and was anything but a slacker. I was 38 weeks pregnant with swollen feet and Braxton Hicks contractions. I didn't really think letting the greeter do their job was an issue. But my male boss who didnt have children seemed to think so and made a huge stink about it. Point being, mine was just a minor situation that I managed to reason my way out of. I cant imagine what other pregnant women who have more demanding jobs might be going through. I think it is great to make a law to blanket all pregnant women. It doesnt mean that you have to jump in a wheelchair and act helpless. But it will protect the women who need it.

nonmember avatar Charissa

I do not think that legally there should be anything saying that a pregnant woman is disabled and honestly, I wish that businesses would just be more respectful in general to their employees and then the government wouldn't have to micromanage everyone. The government needs to let us all act like grown ups and stay out of our way.
If a woman cannot perform her job, say because it's more rigorous than another job, or requires lifting, than she and her employer should be able to come to an arrangement for what is a temporary situation!
Even when problems do arise in pregnancy, they are usually in the last term.

I do not believe that so many women out there would want to be labeled "disabled" for 1-3 months of their pregnancy.

nonmember avatar Angela

Although I dont consider pregnancy a disability, I agree with expanding the ADA to include pregnancy. Many employers do not care that a woman is pregnant and do not care to give any special treatment to pregnant women. For instance, I worked for a cellular company in retail sales. When I was 38 weeks pregnant I was called into the office and almost written up for "not getting up to greet customers" the thing is, we had a "Greeter" that was hired to do just that. I had worked at this job for 3 years and was anything but a slacker. I was 38 weeks pregnant with swollen feet and Braxton Hicks contractions. I didn't really think letting the greeter do their job was an issue. But my male boss who didnt have children seemed to think so and made a huge stink about it. Point being, mine was just a minor situation that I managed to reason my way out of. I cant imagine what other pregnant women who have more demanding jobs might be going through. I think it is great to make a law to blanket all pregnant women. It doesnt mean that you have to jump in a wheelchair and act helpless. But it will protect the women who need it.

Mindf... Mindfulmommaof2

The only place I have ever really even seen stork parking is at baby warehouse stores. Which in thats cases its more of a marketing thing than anything else.  Any other store I really don't see the need. I had a tough pregnancy and walking was difficult and uncomfortable and closer spots did make it nice, but unfortunately we live in a world where something to make life easier for those who need it would be taken advantage of by those who don't. 


and its a shame it has to come to begging for rights to drink and pee. Honestly I would say if you have to beg for those rights in any case you have the wrong job! but I know we all have to take what we can get sometimes!

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