British experts have warned that telling expectant mothers not to drink is “sexist” and causes “needless anxiety” that forces women into getting abortions.
Multiple health and reproductive non-for-profits and researchers have come out against”alarmist” official British government guidelines that advise expectant mothers not to drink any alcohol.
They claim that the advice isn’t backed by evidence and ends up “stigmatizing” women and excludes them from society, The Telegraph reported.
It is clear that heavy drinking during pregnancy can cause fetal alcohol syndrome, which leads to physical and cognitive developmental problems for children, although it’s still debated whether light amounts of alcohol actually cause harm.
Academics at the University of Kent and the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS) said the government’s advice to expectant mothers has “gone down an overtly precautionary route” and it “needs to be honest” about the evidence.
Dr. Ellie Lee, Director of the Center of Parenting Culture Studies at the University of Kent, claimed “exclusion of women from an ordinary activity on the basis of a precaution” was “sexist.”
“Public discourse has become very hostile and there is now an assumption that a pregnant woman holding a glass of wine is doing something absolutely wrong,” she said.
“Women are being accosted, spoken to and stared at in public. People assume that just because you have had one drink you’ve had a bottle of vodka for breakfast.”
BPAS also came out against the government’s advice to pregnant mothers, campaigning for a change in tone because it scares women into getting an abortion because some women, apparently, fear that a few heavy-drinking nights will cause harm to a fetus.
Clare Murphy, the group’s director of external affairs, said: “There can be real consequences to overstating evidence, or implying certainty when there isn’t any.
“Doing so can cause women needless anxiety and alarm—sometimes to the point that they consider ending an unplanned but not unwanted pregnancy because of fears they have caused irreparable harm.
“But just as importantly, it assumes women cannot be trusted to understand risk, and when it comes to alcohol, the difference between low and heavy consumption.”