A reader responds to the controversy over the CDC’s new guidelines to help lower the rate of fetal alcohol syndrome, guidelines that say doctors should “recommend birth control to women who are having sex (if appropriate), not planning to get pregnant, and drinking alcohol”:
The complaint is about tone? It’s a CDC health guidelines document; the tone is Ben Stein chanting “Bueller? Bueller?” The fact that women can get pregnant unexpectedly and then potentially harm the fetus is inconvenient to say the least, cosmically unfair if you want to take that route, but ultimately utterly inescapable (until we get sci-fi biotechnology).
The advice boils down to this: pregnancy and alcohol don’t mix. If you’re trying to become pregnant, definitely don’t drink alcohol. If you’re a heavy drinker, you should take measures to avoid becoming unexpectedly pregnant. If you’re having unprotected sex and or not using birth control, you may become pregnant, so you should consider not drinking to avoid harming the fetus, if you care about that kind of thing.
The fact that people can find a way to wring offense out of totally innocuous factual statements is both unremarkable and tiresome. Being a woman entails a lot of shitty, unasked-for obligations, and this is one of them. Sympathy, support, you got it—but don’t ask the CDC not to tell it like it is.
From a mother who tells it like it is, when it comes to fetal alcohol syndrome: