New York Councilman David Greenfield has announced a bid to win over the city’s pregnant ladies with legislation to give special parking to women whose OB/GYNs say they have “physical or mobility challenges.” As reports the Daily News, the bill would let those ladies park in no-parking or no-standing zones for free until 30 days after their expected due dates.
As Greenfield says, “New York is a tough place to get around. If you have a difficult pregnancy, it’s even tougher. This should make it a little bit easier.”
New York is a tough place to get around. And 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 and more conscientious than you would likely be to a regular old none-baby-ridden person. Because you or your wife/girlfriend/sister/friend might be pregnant too, someday, and anyway, it’s the right thing to do.
Once the pregnant women release their spawn to the world, we hold doors for them, help them with their strollers, watch to make sure their roving children don’t venture too close to the subway tracks, politely cover our ears and keep our mouths shut when those children begin to squall. None of that is wrong. Being kind and generous to others, helping someone who needs it, having baseline good manners, is admirable.
As Greenfield said,
“If I’m on a train and a pregnant woman walks in, I stand up and offer her my seat. I consider this legislation to be the same thing — standing up on the City Council for women who have difficult pregnancies.”
But. (You knew this was coming.) Should good manners be legislated?
Other arguments against the bill include the following:
• Parking laws in the city are ridiculous already, as is parking.
• Easy parking could “further stigmatize pregnancy,” and bolster a perception that pregnant women are weak and/or “disabled.”
• This is rife with the possibility of scam.
• There’s no effective enforcement.
• Why are these women with difficult pregnancies driving in New York City, anyway?
• When did New York City become such a baby-state?
All these claims have their own element of validity, but our greatest beef is this: While we’re perfectly happy for children to exist in this city (and exist they do), presuming they don’t live next door to us and wake up at 5 a.m. every day screaming, New York is not supposed to be easy for anyone, whether you’re pregnant or not.
Transportation is hard for all of us. Commuting sucks. Mountain-goating up to your sixth floor walkup with bags of groceries is unpleasant regardless of the state of your embryo. And pregnancy is a choice.
Also a choice? Being kind to not only pregnant women, but all of the people you share the city with. And, yet…legislating that kindness just makes us want to kick something.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on January 24, 2011