Why The CDC Shouldn't Alter Its Alcohol And Pregnancy Information To Appease Feminists

| by Nik Bonopartis
A pregnant woman.A pregnant woman.

See ya, science! It was good while we knew you.

Who knew that hard, clinical data was anti-feminist? Who knew that biological processes have political agendas and that scientists should be expected to filter their research accordingly?

The CDC ran afoul of the internet feminism patrol on Feb. 2 with a report pointing out this one simple fact: Women who drink during pregnancy will pass the alcohol along to their babies via their bloodstream.

A baby may then develop fetal alcohol syndrome,which is known to cause developmental disabilities, problems learning and paying attention, and behavioral issues. Kids who suffer from this condition can have a much tougher life as they fall behind in school, suffer emotional distress, and even experience abnormal growth and facial features.

These are facts. They are not in dispute, and they are not the result of political agendas.

Yet scientists at the CDC found themselves backtracking after feminists and idealogues took offense at the suggestion that women who intend to get pregnant should stop drinking alcohol. As the CDC pointed out, half of all pregnancies in the U.S. are unplanned, and women typically don't know they're carrying a child until four to six weeks into the pregnancy. Thus, the smart and responsible play for sexually active women who stop taking birth control is to stop drinking.

Seems fair, right? This is common sense, after all. And it's not like the CDC researchers are putting guns to women's heads, or asking them to make major life sacrifices; rather, they are merely suggesting that skipping a drink here or there is a small price to pay for ensuring a child's health and well-being.

Even so, CDC scientists were forced to couch their recommendations in carefully worded language, lest they offend anyone who thinks presenting valid medical information is challenging feminism.

“We’re really all about empowering women to make good choices and to give them the best information we can so they can decide what they want to do themselves,” Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC., explained to the New York Times. “Alcohol in that period can be particularly risky, so we wanted to make sure people are aware of that. What they do with that information is, of course, up to them.”

That didn't stop critics from claiming they know better than scientists, as Slate's Ruth Graham did when she asserted that the CDC's warning "is seriously misleading." However, it's not the information itself that's misleading. After all, scientists have been clear that no amount of alcohol is safe for pregnant women, MGH Center for Women's Mental Health notes. Instead, it's the media's portrayal of the information that is misleading. The Washington Post's Alexandra Petri used sarcasm to highlight this problem, disingenuously claiming that the CDC was wrong to put the information out because media organizations -- including the newspaper she writes for -- could misinterpret the report in headlines.

We will be living in a very dangerous world if real, peer-reviewed, common sense science has to be suppressed or filtered so as not to upset anyone on the face of the planet.

Imagine if smoking PSAs had to downplay the health risks of cigarettes lest they offend the sensibilities of smokers. Imagine if the CDC muzzled itself from telling people with HIV that they should refrain from sex, because the HIV-positive might feel bad about passing a fatal disease on to unsuspecting partners.

What about diseases that target specific genetic groups? Sickle-cell anemia almost exclusively victimizes people who have African hereditary backgrounds, and it's a disease that can be prevented with vaccinations and antibiotics. But, using feminist logic, isn't it offensive to tell African Americans they should modify their lifestyle to avoid a preventable disease?

Information, especially potentially life-saving information, should never be suppressed to avoid upsetting the ridiculously sensitive. We only have one life each, and the cellular and subatomic world does not discriminate between gender or race.

Sources: New York Times, Slate, Women's Mental HealthWashington Post, CDC / Photo source: Wikimedia Commons, Janine/Flickr

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