Food by VICE

New York's Bartenders Can No Longer Refuse to Serve Pregnant Women Alcohol

City officials are now warning bartenders that hindering a pregnant woman’s right to drink in public is a discriminatory act.

by Alex Swerdloff
May 10 2016, 7:00pm

Photo via Flickr user Jen_Crothers

How do you feel about a woman's birth-given right to drink herself into a gloriously inebriated mess? How about a pregnant woman's right to drink before birth?

Turns out, New York City is pretty damn chill with you knocking back a few shots of mezcal in your third trimester. Hell, not only is the city cool with it, city officials are now warning bartenders that hindering a pregnant woman's right to drink in public is a discriminatory act.

A new advisory released by the Human Rights Commission of the City of New York wants to make this clear to bartenders: It is in no way their decision as to whether a pregnant woman should drink in public. The warning issued to the city's bartenders, bouncers, and club managers is part of a larger set of guidelines relating to the protection of rights for pregnant woman in workplaces.

"Judgments and stereotypes about how pregnant individuals should behave, their physical capabilities and what is or is not healthy for a fetus are pervasive in our society and cannot be used as pretext for unlawful discriminatory decisions," states the advisory.

Currently, bars throughout the city are required to display signs notifying of possible harm to a fetus via alcohol consumption. Despite the new stance adopted by local authorities, drinking establishments will still be required to display the sign.

While some pregnant woman might not immediately admit they were admonished or turned away by a bartender, the city has confirmed that at least one such case, alleging discrimination, is currently pending.

Is drinking alcohol during pregnancy dangerous? Yes, say the U.S. Surgeon General, major medical associations and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Fetal-harm laws are on the books in 39 states, but they typically deal with punishing third parties who physically harm a pregnant woman, such as a drunk driver. A few states, though, have seen cases in which women themselves have been sued for endangering a fetus, usually through drug abuse or out-of-control drinking.

But now, it is no longer a bar owner's or bartender's problem, at least in New York City.

gender norms
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
gender discrimination