Opinion Brief

Do pregnant women deserve parking perks?

New York City considers offering free parking to women facing difficult pregnancies. But will it only fuel the resentment of other drivers?

A New York City councilman is proposing a new law granting special parking placards to pregnant women with medical approval, letting them park for free in no-parking or no-standing zones until 30 days after their due dates. Many women cheered the news, saying it would make life easier for those who, on doctors' orders, should be avoiding physical exertion. But critics of the plan say it will complicate already messy local parking laws, and even fuel discrimination against expectant mothers. Bad idea? (Watch a local report about the controversy)

This is not the government's business: "New York is a tough place to get around," says Jen Doll in The Village Voice, but it's hard for everyone, not just pregnant women. There's "a culture of support to pregnant women that involves letting them cut you in line for the bathroom or dressing room, getting up for them in the subway, and generally being nicer" to them than to "a regular old non-baby-ridden person." But that's all a personal choice — "legislating that kindness" will only make people resentful.
"Should you get special privileges for getting knocked up?"

Free parking is the least we can offer expectant moms: Offering a pregnant woman free parking "is a beautiful gesture," says Meredith Carroll at Strollerderby. The objections are all predictable — but maybe the ordinance would have a better chance of passing "if the 'free' part of the parking was eliminated." Either way, this is a great idea. "Until you've walked a mile in a pregnant woman’s shoes, with swollen feet and ankles," you can't imagine what a basic courtesy this would be.
"Pregnant women in NYC: Free parking, coming soon?"

It will only increase discrimination: "Granting parking privileges to a woman who is eight months pregnant and barely able to walk seems like a nice thing to do," says Amy Graff in the San Francisco Chronicle. "My fear is that something like this fuels the 1950s idea that pregnant women are incapable and disabled." Pregnant women already face far too much discrimination, especially in the workplace, and giving them special treatment could merely fuel the antiquated notion that their place is in the home.
"Should pregnant women get special parking privileges?"

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