Last week the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in the United States released a statement advising the 3.3 million women who are sexually active and not on birth control that they should stop drinking entirely due to the risks it poses to a potential fetus.
This is a policy based on hypotheticals—being pregnant, that the woman wants to keep their child, and that their sexual partner isn’t using any form of birth control.
The CDC is effectively asking women to stop partaking in a normal and natural activity for a just-in-case scenario.
Not only that, but this guideline also maintains an age old societal view that all women who can become mothers want to, even though there are other options available.
It should also be noted that there’s some debate about the real ramifications of consuming alcohol when pregnant. A study conducted in 2010 by researchers from University College London showed that women who consumed 1-2 drinks a week while pregnant had no impact on their child’s development. However most researchers agree that heavy or binge drinking while pregnant is dangerous, and can cause fetal alcohol syndrome.
As a scientific organization, the CDC should be promoting the circulation of knowledge to prevent disease and illness, however, this press release goes directly against those objectives.
Instead the organization should try educating the population about the very real effects alcohol can have on a baby, or work to increase the access to birth control and sexual education.
Reducing the amount of children living with fetal alcohol syndrome is a respectable goal—the problem isn’t what the CDC is trying to do, but rather than how they’re doing it. A blanket warning about drinking isn’t the answer to this problem. Prohibition wasn’t an effective way to slow America’s drinking and asking women to do the same is an equally unrealistic goal.