We’re all aware of the stigma about drinking during pregnancy. Every bar in America is adorned with a sign warning pregnant women of the dangers of alcohol while pregnant. But at a bar near Chicago, a warning wasn’t enough. Michelle Lee was hanging out at a neighborhood bar near her parents’ home, chatting with some friends. She was approached by a bouncer, who pulled her aside.
“Can I ask you a personal question?” The bouncer asked, “Are you pregnant?”
Lee said yes. (At 8 months along, she figured there was little doubt). Then the bouncer asked her to leave.
Lee pointed out that her beverage of choice for the evening was water. But the problem, according to the bouncer, wasn’t that he was worried about her drinking. It was that he was worried about her getting hurt. Or really, about the bar being liable for it.
“He just said, ‘if anything happens, if a fight breaks out and you get hurt, we are responsible,’” reported Lee. She left the bar shortly after midnight at the bouncer’s request. But then she started to get mad about it. She acknowledged that she was taking responsibility for herself by entering the establishment. Was it really within the bar’s rights to kick her out just because she was pregnant?
The American Civil Liberties Union says no.
Ed Yohnka, a spokesperson for the ACLU, explains:
“There are certain things for which you are not able to discriminate against someone, and one is their gender…And only women can have babies. You can’t discriminate against a pregnant person.”
It’s not clear if Lee plans to follow up with any action. But it’s interesting to think about this incident and what it says about pregnant women in our society. Kicking Lee out of that bar may not have been right or even legal. But it’s a perfect example of how fear of liability and risk to the fetus can trump the rights of the mother as an individual.
[via Chicago Tribune]
photo: Axel Kuhlmann/flickr