Because I applauded the CDC's bold recommendation last week I've heard some arguments from women about why the CDC's statement was ridiculous. If you have not heard already, the Center for Disease Control made a recommendation that sexually active women who are of child bearing age and not on birth control, abstain from alcohol. There was public outcry. Social media was abuzz and so few seemed to be standing with the CDC. And then there were so many blog posts making fun of the CDC and calling them condescending for their recommendation. The CDC's recommendation targeted women only. It did not include men. And after all that drama, because I am in support groups of parents who are raising children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS), I got to see that I was not the only incredulous person online who could not believe that people would argue with the CDC's statement. You see, those of us who know what FAS looks like and see the kinds of lives our children are living cannot fathom anyone drinking while pregnant. My daughter's birth mother could have abstained from alcohol. But she did not. My daughter will pay the price for her whole life.
Here are a representation of some of the best explanations I have seen this past week that definitely justify the use of alcohol by women of childbearing age who are not on birth control.
Reasons sexually active women who are not on birth control should be able to drink with a clear conscience:
1. Because men do not have to abstain so it is discriminatory to tell women they should!
Mother Nature is such a chauvinist huh? She only gave wombs to women, not men. It’s about biology, and nothing else girls.
2. This one is really just like the first: If my boyfriend/husband/guy-I-picked-up-at-the-bar gets to drink then so do I!
You cannot find a sex partner who is willing to abstain while you stay sober too? Do you really want to have sex with that guy? If you do, then I got nothing else to say except, “Wow.”
3. Because women have to endure so much for their children (or future children), sobriety should not be added to the list of inconveniences.
I actually have to say it again, “Wow.” You know that baby you may or may not be trying to create? It’s going to do a lot of inconvenient things. And the alcohol you are drinking because you have the right? That alcohol is going to make all those things that kid does that might be inconvenient MUCH more inconvenient. A kid born to a mother who drank will need a whole lot more from her than a kid who is born to a mom who abstained. Kids with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) are exhausting.
4. Because it is not right that, even though I may not even be pregnant or become pregnant, the things I want are still put second to a non-existent baby.
So you are on birth control then? Because if you are not then that non-existent baby is not necessarily non-existent anymore is it? Sex creates babies. Drinking alcohol while pregnant creates babies with FAS.
5. Because I know a kid whose mom drank while she was pregnant and he turned out just fine.
Right. It could happen. There are SOME babies born to drinking mothers who do not appear to have alcohol related disabilities. Fraternal twins can even be affected differently while being exposed to the same amount of alcohol in the womb. Do you really want to take a chance? And those babies who do not appear to be affected just might have been even smarter, even more talented, even more “normal” than they already are if only their mother had abstained completely. Look your kid in the eye a few years from now and let him know he might have been even smarter, even more talented than he is now, but you really wanted to have just a drink or two while he was developing.
6. Because some doctors still say a little alcohol is not harmful to an unborn child.
The best reason/excuse yet! You can find a few doctors and articles that will say moderate drinking is not harmful to a baby. You will find far more doctors and articles written that recommend a mother not drink at all. You really want to take a chance? With your kid?
7. Because not drinking is unrealistic. You would have to be a Quaker to avoid alcohol (or unplanned sex).
Really? I am no Quaker. It really is possible to have fun without alcohol. It really is possible to put your unborn children (even the unplanned ones) ahead of alcohol. Really.
I reserve the right to add to this list as I'm quite certain I am about to get a few more reasons from women that they should be able to drink with a clear conscience.
We are not animals. We are people. We get to plan ahead and make complicated decisions about our future and the future of our children. And yes - even the future of our future children. Is alcohol really that important to you? Really?
I do not imagine I will change the opinion of one woman who is drinking and having sex. And I doubt this will boost my blog page. I will most likely lose a few followers. Why then do I feel compelled to write about such a controversial and hot topic? It is because I have to stand up for the things I believe in. If I lose a thousand followers over this post, so be it. I will not be debating the topic any longer. Last week when this topic was being argued on my Facebook Page, one of my readers came to my defense and asked another why she would come to the page of a mother who is raising a child with FAS to argue that alcohol and unprotected sex are not a big deal. It is such a big deal.
Note: Before I get dozens of comments saying it is not so much WHAT the CDC said as the WAY they said it, I would only respond that it might have been said just a little more eloquently. Perhaps the issue of men and how alcohol damages sperm should have been addressed. But I still stand with the CDC on this one.