"I won't offer you a wine then."
My friend and my conversation had been disrupted by a person foisting off wine at some function a few months ago. I wanted to thank the man for being considerate of me not being able to drink due to the medication I was on at the time. Except he wasn't talking to me, he was talking to my friend's stomach which was bearing the obvious sign that she was pregnant.
I suppose he was doing her a favour by acknowledging that she was pregnant and the dangers that alcohol poses to the fetus inside her. But I couldn't help but think that this 'considerate gesture' was actually another form of control. My friend didn't get the chance to refuse the alcohol because he had decided that since she was pregnant, she shouldn't be drinking.* This incident was just a small moment in what I can only imagine is a constant barrage of often conflicting advice that visibly pregnant women are subjected to on what they can/can't be eating, drinking and goodness knows what else.
However despite all the hoopla around drinking being bad during pregnancy, medicine doesn't know if it is amount, frequency or timing of alcohol consumption during pregnancy that causes Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Which is why medical professionals recommend that pregnant women don't indulge in a tipple, they can't conclusively say what the acceptable levels are which is a huge leap of logic from just a mouthful of alcohol will damage your baby forever.
And many pregnant women will end up drinking. In some cases because they don't know they are pregnant, however in other cases it will be because she chooses to which she is well within her rights to do since she is only pregnant not brain dead. That is unless we are going to start demanding all women undergo a pregnancy test before purchasing a drink. And though the situation in Tauranga is regrettable, it might actually be a symptom of a more broader problem, New Zealand's binge drinking culture. But we seem as blind to that as we are to her partner hitting her over the head with a bottle which is what sparked the call out in the first place.
*Interestingly if you say that you aren't pregnant, then you are subjected to pressure to drink.