"About half of all US pregnancies are unplanned and, even if planned, most women do not know they are pregnant until they are 4-6 weeks into the pregnancy. This means a woman might be drinking and exposing her developing baby to alcohol without knowing it," the agency said in a "Vital Signs" report released Tuesday.
"More than 3 million US women are at risk of exposing their developing baby to alcohol because they are drinking, having sex, and not using birth control to prevent pregnancy,” the report stated.
Women, and not a few enlightened men, had quite a lot to say about the ridiculous advice.
— Jill Filipovic (@JillFilipovic) February 3, 2016
— megan jane (@foyobli) February 3, 2016
— kelsey mckinney (@mckinneykelsey) February 3, 2016
In a conference call with reporters, the CDC's Dr. Anne Schuchat attempted to clarify the original meaning of the health warning, by bringing men into the equation. Despite being equally at risk of impregnating a woman or contracting an STD while under the influence, men were originally left out of the women-shaming public health campaign.
"We recommend that everybody, all adults, be screened for alcohol and counseled about reducing their alcohol consumption if they have problems with it," Schuchat said.
"We urge women and their partners and their friends to be supportive of that idea… 'I'm not going to drink for a while, because I'm thinking about getting pregnant.'”
"The assumption that women should avoid drinking so they don't become the subject of unwanted sexual attention — which can lead to an unintended pregnancy or an STD — is one of the many victim-blaming pieces of advice that women regularly hear about how they should avoid being raped," Alex Zielinski wrote for Think Progress.
Avoiding large amounts of alcohol during pregnancy is mere common-sense, but the awkward advice implies that a woman who drinks will automatically forget to use birth control, and that all women should be treated as incubators, whether or not they intend to become pregnant.