Pregnancy Should Not Be Considered a Disability

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COMMENTARY | Jeannette Cox, a law professor from the University of Dayton, wants pregnant employees to receive protection under the American Disabilities Act, effectively being considered temporarily disabled under the law and entitled to all protections thereof, reports the Huffington Post.

Pregnant women have symptoms similar to ill or injured persons: pain, shortness of breath, and fatigue, according to the University of Dayton.

Though I agree that the effects of pregnancy can easily reach the threshold of a genuine disability, it should not be given blanket protection under the ADA.

First of all, given the plethora of modern birth control options and their ease of access, pregnancy is a voluntary condition. Though pregnancy is necessary for continuing the species' existence, it is not like the current lack of ADA protection for it has diminished America's population growth. And allowing a voluntary condition to be given the status of ADA protection might seem like a slap in the face to the many workers who are temporarily disabled through traditional, involuntary causes.

The possibility for abuse is high. Women who may fear termination, either due to firing or downsizing, could become pregnant or claim to be pregnant. Which raises another question: How much documentation of a pregnancy is required to merit protection? Does the protection begin at the announcement of the pregnancy, or upon receipt of some sort of paperwork? Does the protection begin at the "fill-in-the-blank" week of pregnancy, or at the beginning of discernible symptoms?

In tough economic times couples may, unwisely, decide to get pregnant to try and guarantee that one spouse retains her job. This may result in families having too many mouths to feed nine months down the road, soon after which the pregnancy and maternity leave employment protections cease. But, like college students opting for a year of graduate school to try to "ride out" a tough economy, could women opt for a baby to try to ride out 9-12 months of a tough economy?

And, to throw out a comment that will undoubtedly ruffle feathers, what of the women who are bemoaned, in office break rooms, as always being pregnant? Employees may become upset with having to pick up the slack for someone for the seventh time in seven years.

The emotionally-charged issue of reproductive rights and workers' rights is a minefield upon which one must tread lightly. Having said my piece, I will retreat to safer harbors.

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