As we drove up to the baby store, The Man noticed the parking spots for expectant mothers at the front of the lot and went to pull into one.
“No way!” I exclaimed with a chuckle. “I’m pregnant. I’m not an invalid. I’m cancer free. I’m not using one of those spaces.”
I’ve used similar lines to reason with loved ones about the fact that I can walk a few miles a day, lift boxes and drive wherever I need to. Despite my health concerns and the fact that my pregnancy is high risk, I’ve been fortunate (knock on wood) to have had an easy pregnancy.
The issue of parking spaces for expectant mothers has been on my mind of late, though. In a trip to a shopping mall on a busy Saturday night, my friend assumed that I would take one of the preferred parking spaces. I didn’t feel right doing so.
My thoughts inspired the following Facebook status update:
I shake my head and keep driving every time I see preferred parking spaces for expectant moms. Barring extreme complications, pregnancy is not a disability. Let's give preferred parking spots to people with health conditions that aren't a choice!
The online discussion that ensued was an interesting one. To highlight the major points:
- If pregnant women need or want the spots, then why should anyone question their existence?
- I qualified for temporary disability due to a pregnancy-related condition, but didn't feel comfortable asking for a disability placard. I was thankful for those spots so I didn't have to use a handicapped space.
- I’m pregnant, and I would never take advantage of these spots.
- I wish these spots existed when I was pregnant!
- Everyone’s situation is different so we shouldn’t judge.
- People will always take advantage of these types of things – pregnant or not.
- Wouldn’t it make more sense to have parking spaces for new moms?
Offline comments included that these spaces are merely a marketing tool and how resentful several friends feel about these spots existing.
The discussion also prompted me to think about why these spots bother me. The answer is two-fold:
1. As someone who had cancer, I would have loved preferred parking spots for me back then! (Last month, I was in the ER twice, threw up almost daily and had bronchitis. That month was a walk in the park compared to how I felt post-chemotherapy!)
I wish there were preferred spaces for people who are having a really rough health day for whatever reason. I realize, though, that some people who aren't ill or limited in their mobility would unfortunately take advantage of these spots!
2. As a feminist and attorney, I worry that special treatment for all expectant mothers might have negative repercussions. Discrimination against women in the workplace is often insidious. Working females of a certain age are still placed on the “Mommy Track,” regardless of whether they have or desire to have children. There are laws in place to protect against pregnancy discrimination, and women who are experiencing difficult pregnancies are entitled to temporary disability protection. But, if there’s the perception that all pregnant women – not just women with pregnancy-related medical conditions – require special treatment like preferred parking, could that be a detriment to working women?
I don’t know the answer to that question. In the meantime, though, I’m going to keep driving around the parking garage in search of a spot, feeling thankful that I don't need the preferred parking and questioning whether these spaces are beneficial on a macro level.
What are your thoughts on preferred parking spaces for expectant moms?