NYC Mayor de Blasio says bars cannot refuse to serve alcohol to pregnant women
Pregnant woman drinking wine (Shutterstock)

Bars and restaurants in New York are not allowed to refuse alcohol to pregnant women since that would violate their basic rights, the mayor's office said.

Pregnancy discrimination under New York City Human Rights Law "is discrimination based on gender," according to new guidelines released last week.

Refusing to serve alcoholic beverages or raw fish, which can potentially harm a fetus, to pregnant women constitute rights violations, the guidelines said.

In 2003, a New York court found that child protection law does not apply to pregnant women whose actions could influence the health of a fetus.

Meanwhile, across the United States, restaurants, bars and any establishments serving alcohol are required to post warnings about the dangers of drinking while pregnant.

In 18 US states, taking substances known to be discouraged during pregnancy, such as alcohol, is legally equivalent to child abuse, according to investigative journalism site ProPublica.

Alcohol consumption by an expectant mother may cause fetal alcohol syndrome and pre-term birth complications, the World Health Organization has warned.

Ten percent of pregnant American women acknowledge consuming alcohol within the last 30 days, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.