Last week, the CDC released guidelines advising all reproductive-age women who are not on birth control to avoid alcohol, with the aim of preventing Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. These new guidelines were based on studies that found that many U.S. pregnancies, more than half of which are unplanned, were at risk for inadvertent alcohol exposure, as many women continue to drink while trying to conceive, and may not realize when they are pregnant.
Commentators widely decried the new guidelines as offensive to women for many reasons, claiming that the mandate was condescending, strangely silent on men’s role in conception, heteronormative, and propagating an outdated view of women as solely reproductive entities. Not to mention, some dismissed the mandate as simply unrealistic. In the face of such widespread criticism, the CDC recently came forward in defense of its advice, but at the same time admitted that its attitude toward women may have been “misunderstood” or imprecisely expressed.