Abortions and Drinking Alcohol During Pregnancy

“Scare tactics used to warn women about the dangers of drinking alcohol while pregnant could have a backlash effect and lead to unnecessary abortions, experts say,” reports the Australian Sun-News. Such tactics were abandoned in the Province of Quebec in Canada, after medical authorities realized that women who had consumed even a single a drink when they learned that they had been pregnant at the time and then had abortions out of fear.

Dr. Debra Kennedy, director of the MotherSafe centre at Sydney’s Royal Hospital for Women, reports that there is no evidence that drinking a small amount of alcohol while pregnant could cause Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). She says that about half of pregnancies are unplanned, and that many women will have consumed alcohol in moderation before discovering that they are pregnant.

Dr. Kennedy said that some doctors advise women to have an abortion if they are worried that the alcohol they consumed before discovering they were pregnant might have harmed the fetus. She disagrees with such blanket advice.

Australian guidelines, which recommend that pregnant women consume no more than seven standard drinks per week, and no more than two in a day, are reasonable, says Dr. Kennedy.



  • Lawson, Amy. New advice for mums: don’t fret over a little drink. Sun-Herald (Australia), September 11, 2005.

Note: This website does not provide medical opinion or advice and none should be inferred. The safest advice for the fetus is to abstain. Pregnant woman may wish to discuss with their physicians the relative risks to themselves (if they abstain) or to the fetus (if they drink at various levels of consumption).

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