Pregnant Women Need Not Apply

Posted on January 26, 2011 by

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Sometimes there are good reasons not to hire pregnant women—like, say, if your company is based in Antarctica. Clinics on the icy continent aren’t staffed with doctors who can handle prenatal care and pregnancy emergencies. So the National Science Foundation (NSF) makes new female employees of child-bearing age take a pregnancy test before they set foot on Antarctica. Spokesmen say that if a pregnant woman were to require medical attention, flight crew would have to risk their lives on an emergency passage to South America.

Irin Carmon at Jezebel asks if the NSF’s mandatory pregnancy testing is legal, and basically decides that “it’s complicated.” It seems pretty clear cut to me: A woman doesn’t have the right to work a certain job while pregnant, especially if her condition puts others at risk. The NSF’s policy makes sense. Of course, short of a law against sexual intercourse in Antarctica, there’s not much anyone can do to make sure the women already on the continent don’t get pregnant. But if an NSF employee in Antarctica reports her pregnancy to the company, she is compensated for all the work she’s done and transported home as quickly as possible. After all, that is what’s best for the woman, her child, and everyone else involved.

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