WHO Triggers UK Left, Libertarians by Saying Women of Childbearing Age Should Not Drink

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familylifestyle / iStock / Getty Images Plus

The World Health Organization (WHO) has infuriated leftists and libertarians by suggesting that women of childbearing age should not drink alcohol, lest they inadvertently harm unborn children in early pregnancy.

“It is necessary to raise awareness among decision-makers and the general public about the risks and harms associated with alcohol consumption,” declares the United Nations Specialized Agency in its Global alcohol action plan to strengthen implementation of the Global Strategy to Reduce the Harmful Use of Alcohol for 2022-2030, first draft.

“Appropriate attention should be given to prevention of the initiation of drinking among children and adolescents, prevention of drinking among pregnant women and women of childbearing age, and protection of people from pressures to drink, especially in societies with high levels of alcohol consumption where heavy drinkers are encouraged to drink even more,” the draft asserts.

While much of this is uncontroversial for most, the reference to “prevention of drinking” not only “among pregnant women” but also among women of childbearing age” has caused conniptions in some quarters, with critics branding the statement “paternalistic” and “sexist”.

These include, perhaps unsurprisingly, the Portman Group, which styles itself as the “alcohol social responsibility body for UK producers, regulating alcohol marketing and keeping it responsible” and claims to promote “Enlightened corporate social responsibility”.

“We are extremely concerned by the WHO calling on countries to prevent drinking among women of childbearing age in their latest action plan. 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,” railed the trade body’s chief executive officer, Matt Lambert — at a time when people’s basic freedoms have been restricted nigh-universally anyway in response to the Chinese coronavirus pandemic.

“It is wrong to scaremonger in this irresponsible way and associate women’s alcohol-related risks with those of children and pregnant people,” he added, using a genderless alternative term for expectant mothers promoted by the woke.

“This is classic World Health Organisation idiocy. 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,” concurred the decidedly less than woke Christopher Snowdon, Head of Lifestyle Economics at the libertarian-leaning Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA).

“The idea that it is unsafe for women of childbearing age to drink any alcohol is unscientific and absurd. Moreover, it is none of the WHO’s business,” he said, in comments quoted by The Telegraph.

However, Dr Richard Piper, who leads the Alcohol Change UK charity warned that “Drinking alcohol in the early stages of pregnancy, even before many people realise they’re pregnant, can be very damaging for a foetus.

“It’s important that people understand these risks, but also vital that we balance this against each adult’s right to make informed decisions about what we do with our bodies, no matter our age or sex,” he added.

The WHO draft does strongly indicate that its basis for recommending action on women of childbearing age drinking is to protect “those affected by the harmful drinking of others” — although this is not consistent with its stance in favour of abortion, which it promotes as “essential for the attainment of the highest possible level of sexual and reproductive health.”

In the final analysis, Colin Angus, an alcohol policy modeller at the University of Sheffield, has noted that it is a “draft document, for consultation”, expressing hope that it is just the result of “some poor or ill thought-out drafting.”

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