Peter Limbrick offers an opinion: The FASD debate has been given a new lease of life by claims that advising that women who are (or who want to become) pregnant should avoid alcohol is sexist. I read in the Guardian that:
Ellie Lee, director of Kent University’s centre for parenting culture studies [UK], said the advice means pregnant women also shun social occasions unnecessarily.
“As proving ‘complete safety’ [of drinking in pregnancy] is entirely impossible, where does this leave pregnant women? The scrutiny and oversight of their behaviour the official approach invites is not benign. It creates anxiety and impairs ordinary social interaction. And the exclusion of women from an ordinary activity on the basis of ‘precaution’ can more properly be called sexist than benign,” Lee added.
I was surprised to read this because, during the last two decades or so, the key people I have met campaigning about the dangers of alcohol to foetuses have been women – as parents, adoptive parents or researchers. Again, The Royal College of Midwives (a largely female profession I imagine) wants mothers-to-be to avoid alcohol.
I find it very hard to accept that FASD has become a women’s rights issue, especially if the argument is based on women being excluded from ordinary social activity. There must be countless thousands of women in all countries who socialise without alcohol because of preference, religion, personal health, needing to drive, being on call, wanting better sex, enjoying keeping a clear head, etc.
In many, if not all, public health debates and campaigns there is a big-money lobby: the tobacco industry promotes smoking; car manufacturers have lied to us about emissions; the telecoms industry denies electromagnetic radiation can impair our neurology.
I imagine the big breweries will be delighted to hear that a putative ‘women’s lobby’ wants to ditch the precautionary principle.
Read Denis Campbell’s article in the Guardian (18/5/17): https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/may/18/warning-pregnant-women-over-dangers-of-alcohol-goes-too-far-experts-say