The New York City Human Rights Commission Law (NYCHRL) released new pregnancy guidelines on Friday which state how discrimination amongst those who are pregnant or not treating them like the rest of the society in the realm of employment or other light duty accommodations, is illegal and violation of the law.
The federal law states that employers don’t have a right to discriminate against a temporarily disabled or a pregnant worker when it comes to light duty and other accommodations. However, the guidelines further go on to clarify how the refusal of certain foods or drinks to pregnant individuals or perceived pregnant individuals is against the law.
The main idea is not to encourage drinking amongst pregnant ladies but to let these women make their own decisions. If they are adult enough to give birth to a child, they are adult enough to be able to tell the difference between right and wrong. The bar tenders do not have to do a double job of being a doctor as well as a tavern. Whether the women choose to drink or not is entirely up to them and not the states’ legal responsibility to stop them anymore.
A Manhattan bar owner Dan Warren speaks about how he thinks the mother of the child is in a responsible position to make her own decisions yet he would step up if she continued to order multiple drinks. Michael Sinesky, owner of a few other bars and clubs, on the other hand, declares how he would not want his staff to be preaching. The bars are required nonetheless to still put up signs warning individuals of the harms associated with alcohol and the effect it can have on the fetus.
The Human Rights Commission is currently investigating a case where a woman was not allowed to even enter the bar. The bar owners previously had the right to flat out refuse to even let the women enter, let alone serve them. Some pregnant women have spoken about how they have felt awkward when they have walked into a bar as people would be looking at them wondering if they would order a drink or not. This added attention is not something they particularly enjoyed and did not like the government dictating their actions. At the same time, though, some have felt awkward even after the ruling has passed when the server has asked them how many glasses to bring for instance.
Experts at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Pediatrics and pretty much all public health officials in the US strictly forbid the use of alcohol consumption. They are not in favor of even a drop of alcohol during pregnancy as it is said to affect fetal development and give way to a condition called the ‘Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS)’. This applies to all forms of alcohol, be it beer, wine or vodka.
The child born with FAS tends to suffer from various problems such as, birth defects, delayed development, low birth weight, learning disabilities, facial abnormalities, physical deformities as well as bone and joint issues, hearing loss, congenital heart disease and is likely to go through several mental, physical or behavior problems in later years of his life. It is important to note however that many a time the mother may be unaware of pregnancy symptoms and not know that she is pregnant, ending up having a drink or two in the first trimester. The amount of alcohol that one takes though does influence the possibility and increasing the likelihood of the mother having a child who might suffer from FAS. Though some people do tend to drink during pregnancy and yet end up having completely healthy and normal children, every pregnancy is different thus it’s better to be safe than sorry.
The guidelines enforced were not just to provide a leeway for these women to get into bars but to free them from discrimination at a much larger level so they could move around more freely and be able to work in safe and healthy environments. State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky says, ‘In this day and age, a woman should not be forced to choose between her career and motherhood.’ By eliminating discrimination completely and letting them function in the same way as the rest of the state, the pregnant women can now be active members of the society and contribute in any way they wish to without being denied any opportunity that comes their way. They no longer have to be fearful or hesitant to ask for what is rightly theirs. Stavisky concludes her statement by saying, ‘I commend the Commission on Human Rights, not only for recognizing the problem, but for offering clear guidance and definitions of pregnancy protections. With this initiative, New York is becoming an even better place for families.’