29 May 2007

Drinking when pregnant advice: sensible precaution or patronising paternalism?

New government advice warns women not to drink any alcohol at all when pregnant, changing their line from previous advice which was to drink only a small amount - comments here and here in the Guardian. (The second one is by Zoe Williams and pretty nonsensical, sorry.) Is this a sensible precaution, given that doctors estimate that 7,500 foetuses are harmed every year by pregnant women drinking? Or is it patronising and paternalistic to assume that unless you scare pregnant women into complete abstention, they will choose to act irresponsibly?


Katherine said...

I was surprised and impressed by the Zoe Williams' piece. It fits very accurately with the broad view taken by the women on the GUT Pregnancy thread - and I consider them a prudent bunch.

woodscolt said...

I've gone back and read the Zoe Williams piece properly rather than skimming it, and you're right, it's good. I was unkind.

T said...

God, the more I read about this, the more shocked I become - pregnant women really have to put up with so much pressure and criticism. The bit in Zoe Williams' piece when the midwife castigated her for reading the latest research is really quite something. I would've gone nuts!

Scarlett McQueen said...

I once came across a really vile pressure group called FASAware, which was putting posters in women's toilets, warning them of the dangers of JUST ONE drink in pregnancy.


Not content to simply offer medical evidence, the website publishes every single Daily Mail rant about the imagined dangers of 'ladette' culture to back up their argument. (See their "Latest news" page"

There's a lot about that site that reminds me of the 'pro-life' websites, where the main argument gets lost in the stampede to castigate women for their own moral failings, and then to present their moral weakness as symptomatic of a corrupt and immoral culture.

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