The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has just put out a new warning for women who are not on birth control: don’t drink just in case you get pregnant.
This unreasonable warning stems from the department’s desire to curb the incidences of fetal alcohol syndrome.
The CDC noted in their report: “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.”
While everyone is entirely sure this is a very well-meaning gesture (can you hear the sarcasm?), this is simply a prime example of how family planning, birth control, abortions, and now drinking are all held over women’s heads.
Sure, let’s all attack Planned Parenthood, give companies the ability to refuse to cover birth control under the health insurance they offer their female employees (think Hobby Lobby), stigmatize job-seeking women that may express an interest in getting pregnant (no one wants to pay for that pesky paid family leave!), and then turn around and tell women that if they really want to do themselves a favor, they shouldn’t drink if they are not on birth control just in case of pregnancy—regardless of if they want to become pregnant or not.
In the CDC’s report, Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat, M.D. is quoted as saying, “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?”
This is just salt on the wound for women who live in a society that blames them for giving into the norms of today’s confusing dating culture, shakes their head when they aren’t aware of basic sexual health due to abstinence-only sex education, and closely monitors those who want to make decisions about their own bodies.
This “Why chance it?” mentality is a sure-fire way to deepen the hole the GOP has already created with their crusade against Planned Parenthood, one of the few organizations willing to offer free birth control to just about anyone.
Still, there is one interesting statistic that the CDC reported: “3 in 4 women who want to get pregnant as soon as possible do not stop drinking alcohol when they stop using birth control.”
While telling all women who are not on birth control to stop drinking may be unreasonable and far-fetched, this is an interesting angle that seems under-discussed.
It’s every woman’s prerogative to do with her body what she wants, but it is interesting that most of those who are trying to get pregnant wouldn’t also think to stop drinking. Perhaps reminding women who fit in this category that they should abstain from drinking is the true angle the CDC should take in their approach.
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