The World Health Organization is taking flak after stating that women of childbearing age should not consume alcohol at all, even if they do not have any interest in starting a family.
The WHO defines women of reproductive age as being between 15 and 49 years old.
What are the details?
The action plan draft urges countries to pay “appropriate attention to prevention” of alcohol consumption in certain groups across the world, but specifically in teens and in women of childbearing age, according to The Telegraph.
The plan points out the urgency to help prevent “the initiation of drinking among children and adolescents, prevention of drinking among pregnant women, and women of childbearing age.”
“One of the most dramatic manifestations of harm to persons other than drinkers is prenatal alcohol exposure and the development of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders,” a portion of the draft plan says.
NO BOOZE FOR WOMEN: https://t.co/qpashfloUB
— 96fm Opinion Line (@OpinionLine96)
Matt Lambert, head of the Portman Group — a social responsibility and regulatory body for alcohol in the United Kingdom — said the WHO statement went too far.
“We are extremely concerned by the WHO calling on countries to prevent drinking among women of childbearing age in their latest action plan,” Lambert told the Telegraph. “As well as being sexist and paternalistic, and potentially restricting the freedoms of most women, it goes well beyond their remit and is not rooted in science.”
He added, “It is wrong to scaremonger in this irresponsible way and associate women’s alcohol-related risks with those of children and pregnant people.”
Christopher Snowdon with the Institute of Economic Affairs said the organization’s latest drafted advice was patronizing and absurd and not based on scientific fact.
“This is classic World Health Organization idiocy,” he said. “Not content with repeatedly dropping the ball on COVID-19 and dishing out awards to politicians for banning vaping, it now thinks most of the world’s women should abstain from alcohol.”
“The idea that it is unsafe for women of childbearing age to drink any alcohol is unscientific and absurd,” Snowdon added. “Moreover, it is none of the WHO’s business.”
Hannah Ord, a researcher at Adam Smith Institute, told the Daily Mail that a related policy would “[drag] us back into the past.”
“Not only is this an impractical paternalistic policy, but this ridiculous overreach risks turning off young women from all [the WHOs] other sensible health messages,” Ord insisted. “Restricting women’s rights to drink alcohol on the chance that that women may at some point decide to have children is ludicrous, sexist and impossible to actually implement — and ignores alcohol’s inhibitive effects on male fertility to boot.”
She added, “Before 1982, women in the U.K. could legally be refused alcohol at a pub, 40 years on and apparently women should be refused alcohol in general. Cheers to WHO for dragging us back into the past!”
The Telegraph noted that the National Health Service currently advises that men and women should not drink more than 14 units of alcohol per week — the equivalent to six pints of “average-strength beer or 10 small glasses of low-strength wine.”