Friday Femorandum: The CDC’s Condescending Advice for Women

As you’re probably aware, especially if you’re under 45 and have a uterus, the Centers for Disease Control issued new guidelines on pregnancy and drinking this week that called on women and girls between 15 and 45 to abstain from drinking completely if they aren’t on birth control. More than 3 million fertile women who aren’t on birth control could potentially damage their babies by drinking, the CDC warns–without noting that many of those women don’t plan to get pregnant or would have abortions if they did.

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This advice, which directs all fertile women to make life choices based on the possibility that they might get pregnant whether or not they are trying to do so, was widely ridiculed across the blogosphere and in respected newspapers like the Washington Post, where columnist Alexandra Petri wondered whether the CDC understands how pregnancy works. Petri also took issue with another aspect of the recommendations, which states that “drinking too much can have many risks for women,” including sexually transmitted diseases and violence.

“Who knew that drinking alcohol could give ‘any woman’ a sexually transmitted disease?,” Petri writes. “That’s the last time I drink merlot alone in my apartment. I don’t want herpes.”

“One of the unexpected costs of being female,” Petri notes, is that people keep holding you accountable for other people’s behavior.”alcohol aubrey plaza tv parks and recreation drunk

Echidne of the Snakes, a blog that frequently points out flaws in scientific studies, notes that the CDC’s recommendations are based on the premise that all women are essentially incubators, not people with autonomy; that they aren’t supported by real science (there may be “no acceptable level” of alcohol consumption while pregnant, but that’s because it’s impossible to do a double-blind study, the same reason there’s “no acceptable level” of Tylenol or coffee, two substances pregnant women are entrusted to consume); and that they erase men from the whole pregnancy equation.

And the Daily Beast quotes Lisa Wade of the feminist blog Sociological Images, who also notes that the recommendations “seem not to be based in science,” and adds that the guidance “suggests that we are willing to compromise a woman’s autonomy and quality of life on the tiny sliver of a possibility that she might get pregnant and then have a child that is diagnosed with” fetal alcohol syndrome.

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In happier (?) news, anti-choice crusader David Daleiden, the guy behind the fraudulently obtained and edited videos that led to many fruitless investigations of Planned Parenthood around the country, turned himself in to authorities in Texas this week after a Harris County grand jury indicted him for creating a fake ID and attempting to purchase human body parts.

OK, so – per the Washington Post – Daleiden posted bond immediately. (But not before snapping a pretty smug-looking mugshot, via Jezebel). But his crusade to take down health-care providers for imaginary violations did see another setback this week, when a federal judge in San Francisco rules that he could not disclose some of the heavily-edited footage at the center of his indictment to the US Supreme Court, which is hearing a Texas case about laws designed to shut down most abortion clinics in that state.

The judge was apparently persuaded by arguments that making the videos public would violate the privacy of, and potentially endanger, the people who were filmed without their knowledge or consent. The San Francisco Chronicle has that story.


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