If a woman drinks when she is pregnant, or trying to get pregnant, her child could end up with severe mental and physical disabilities due to alcohol exposure. This is a reality, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in an effort to help inform the public about the risk of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), produced an infographic saying as much.
The media, of course, had a field day with this infographic, and turned a poster about the risks of drinking for women into a campaign against women drinking unless they are on birth control. I have studied this infographic extensively, and nowhere on the poster does the CDC ever suggest that only women who practice safe sex can drink.
There is still a problem with the CDC’s approach to informed drinking and safe sexual practices though. It all falls on the woman!
If a couple wants to have sex after an evening out drinking, it should be the man and woman’s job to ensure they are practicing safe sex so as not to have a child in the wrong circumstances. It should be the job of men and women to know the risks of drinking–especially related to sex and pregnancy. And this goes for all relationships, whether a pregnancy is at stake or not.
By making an infographic about drinking and sex that only features women, the CDC is only looking at half of the challenge. In order to prevent unwanted pregnancies that could result in FASD, women AND men need to make sure they are practicing safe sex and aware of the risks drinking poses.