In New York, Bars are Now Required BY LAW to Serve Alcohol to Pregnant Women.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with enjoying a fine Merlot during happy hour. A nice glass of wine can be a great way to decompress after confronting the many stresses of life.

But we also know that drinking alcohol while pregnant can be dangerous. Regular drinking during pregnancy (let’s say, five or more drinks per week consistently) can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) according to the CDC.

Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) occurs when a baby is born with various physical and mental defects due to the mother consuming alcohol during pregnancy.

So, yes… drinking while pregnant is a serious issue. But it’s one that bartenders in New York will no longer be allowed to regulate.

And that’s because the city, for the first time ever, is explicitly prohibiting bars and restaurants from refusing alcoholic drink orders from patrons. Even when those drink orders are coming from pregnant women.

New guidelines say that denying them would qualify as discrimination under the city’s Human Rights Law.

“While covered entities may attempt to justify certain categorical exclusions based on maternal or fetal safety, using safety as a pretext for discrimination or as a way to reinforce traditional gender norms or stereotypes is unlawful,” the guidance released by the Commission on Human Rights on Friday says.

That would also apply to foods deemed risky during pregnancy, such as raw fish or soft cheese. But it’s alcohol consumption by pregnant women that has long driven the touchiest debates over private etiquette and public policy.


At least 18 states have laws that regard the use of intoxicants by pregnant women as child abuse, according to a survey by ProPublica. It was not clear how many jurisdictions have rules that specifically ban restaurants and bars from refusing alcohol service.


Several medical organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Surgeon General’s Office, discourage any alcohol consumption. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has gone even further, recommending that sexually active women who are not using birth control abstain from alcohol.


Nonetheless, many expectant mothers allow themselves an occasional glass of wine, encouraged in part by research showing that small amounts of alcohol may not be harmful. According to the C.D.C., about 10 percent of pregnant women drink alcohol.


New York City’s new guidelines would not undermine a state law that requires bartenders not to serve guests who are “visibly intoxicated.” But some bar owners worry that the rules could muddy the question of when it is appropriate to cut off a pregnant patron.


“To a certain extent it’s government run amok,” said Robert Bookman, a lawyer with the New York City Hospitality Alliance, a trade group…

Read the rest of the article over on The New York Times website.

On a brighter note, the city’s Human Rights Law seems to have made some excellent provisions to prevent discrimination against pregnant women. According to Buzzfeed…

The guidelines were also written to ensure that pregnant women are not discriminated against by their employers, and are able to work in safe and healthy environments.


The guidelines ensure that pregnant women are provided with reasonable time off and bathroom breaks, that they are not fired or passed over for promotions due to their state, and that employers grant “reasonable requests,” such as seating, allowing snacking at work, reassignment of strenuous activities, and unpaid leave to recover from childbirth.

In 2014 New York passed a law requiring employers to provide their pregnant employees with “reasonable accommodations” at work, but a report by the National Women’s Law Center found that over 75% of low-wage workers reported their employers not allowing them basic accommodation for their state.
The Commission hopes the new guidelines will “enable pregnant employees to understand their rights so they can request reasonable accommodations without fear of retaliation,” Malalis said in a statement.
“Pregnant employees should never have to choose between their jobs and having a family,” said First Lady of New York Chirlane McCray at a press conference Friday.

Go over to Buzzfeed to read the rest of the article.

Original Image Source: Kjersti Magnussen