New York bartenders can't refuse to serve pregnant women alcohol

Posted May 12

It's illegal to refuse to serve alcohol to a pregnant woman in New York City since new guidelines from the city's Commission on Human Rights took effect last week. But health warnings about the potential dangers of alcohol consumption must still be posted in bars.

"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 public venues, the new guidelines say.

That's just one of the topics in the guidelines, which largely address issues that might be faced by pregnant women in the workplace.

The topic of dispensing alcohol to someone who's pregnant has long been touchy in this country, according to the Associated Press. "Some states allow criminal charges against women who use illegal drugs while pregnant or permit detaining expectant mothers who drink heavily. And a pregnant drinker was portrayed as a moral dilemma on the ABC hidden-camera show 'What Would You Do' which featured bar patrons' varied reactions to an actress who appeared to be pregnant unabashedly guzzling tequila," wrote AP's Jennifer Peltz.

The article added that "the U.S. Surgeon General and major medical associations say women should avoid alcohol during pregnancy. The American Academy of Pediatrics reiterated the admonition last October."

Even New York bars must "display signs that warn of the risks of harm to a fetus from alcohol consumption," according to The Independent. "But armed with that information, pregnant women should be left alone to make up their own minds whether to drink, the guidelines insist."

The article said that "there are so-called fetal harm laws on the books in 39 U.S. states, which are concerned primarily with punishing third parties who may physically imperil a pregnant woman. That might include a drunken driver crashing into a pregnant woman and causing a miscarriage.

"However, a small number of states have seen cases brought against women whose behaviour is deemed to have endangered the child she is carrying, notably if she is abusing drugs."

Email:, Twitter: Loisco


Please with your account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all