Is Pregnancy a Disability?

Being pregnant can be hard. Maybe you sail through with a warm glow to your skin and a beautiful baby bump and no other side effects. Maybe.

That’s not the experience most of us have. We’re fatigued and nauseated. Food won’t stay down. We gain weight and lose mobility. We can have pelvic problems that make it hard to walk and dizzy spells that make it hard to drive.

But are we disabled when we’re carrying children?

Some people think so. There’s a movement afoot to extend the Americans with Disabilities Act to include pregnant women.

Before you leap up in outrage at the idea that pregnant women might be considered disabled, think about what the legal protection would mean.

As the University of Dayton law professor spearheading this points out, being protected under the ADA would ensure pregnant women are accommodated on the job. The Dayton newspaper writes :

The designation would mean requirements for employers, and job security for pregnant employees. Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, employers would be required to accommodate pregnant workers in small ways, such as the ability to be put on light duty if necessary, drink water on the job, and take more restroom breaks.

That all sounds great, and it’s true that pregnant women do need more family-friendly legal policies and workplace rules. Is this the best way to get it though? For the first months of pregnancy a woman isn’t even showing, but is often feeling nauseated and fatigued. Would I have to produce a pregnancy test to get extra potty breaks during my shift?

Whether expanding the ADA is the right way to approach the problem or not, it’s clear that working pregnant women often have a problem getting fair treatment from their employers. They do need accommodations they don’t need at other times, whether that’s extra breaks to deal with nausea or lighter physical work in the later trimesters when just walking can become difficult.

Linda Sharps at The Stir doesn’t like the idea of putting pregnant women under the ADA’s protection. She writes:

It seems well-intentioned … and also like one hell of a slippery slope. For most of us, pregnancy is a normal, healthy condition, not a disability. If a pregnant women develops a disabling condition, that’s one thing, but labeling every pregnancy as a physical impairment seems like the wrong thing to do.

What do you think? Should pregnancy be considered a disability, or just a normal part of life?

Photo: mahalie

Article Posted 5 years Ago

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