By Aly Walansky
Updated May 09, 2016
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Woman, Drinking, Wine
Credit: © S. Hammid/Getty Images

Drinking while pregnant is a touchy subject. Many cultures (think Italy and France) are open to drinking while others, including much of America, still pass a judging glance when a woman takes a sip of wine while expecting. We aren’t talking about binge drinking here. Studies and books have become increasingly present and widely accepted proving that an occasional small (4 ounces) glass of wine causes no harm to the fetus. Now a new law has been passed that puts the decision to drink while pregnant in the hands of the woman not those around her.

In New York City, it’s against the law to refuse to admit or serve a pregnant woman who orders a drink in a restaurant or bar, say guidelines released last week by New York’s Human Rights Commission. "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" in venues such as bars and restaurants. (Emphasis ours.)

The guidelines provide some broader context for a 2013 law that protected the rights of pregnant women in the workplace.

New York City law still requires bars and restaurants to post signage warning of the dangers of drinking while pregnant but it’s still up to the woman whether she chooses to drink. The Surgeon General cautions that women who drink during pregnancy are putting their unborn baby at risk, but research has also shown that an occasional glass of wine, even in later trimesters, may not be dangerous.

Another aspect to consider: Refusing to serve a drink to a woman who simply ‘appears’ pregnant is just asking for problems.