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A Series of Fallopian Tubes

“Would You Like A Pregnancy Test With That Beer,” Says One Minnesota Bar

Upon hearing there’s a bar that offers pregnancy tests in the bathroom, you might think they’re trying to make some really terrible joke about taking someone home after a few beers and having unprotected sex. In actuality, they’re concerned with women who had sex before stepping into their establishment. That’s right. One Minnesota bar wants to prevent you from drinking while you’re pregnant. Thanks for the concern, I guess?

“Pub 500, a Mankato, Minn. bar located south of Minneapolis-St. Paul, has installed a new pregnancy test dispenser in the women’s restroom,” writes the NY Daily News. “Before ordering a drink, women can access pregnancy tests for $3 with a credit or debit card.”

Healthy Brains for Children, a non-profit organization aimed at preventing brain damage from prenatal exposure to alcohol, are the ones who placed the world’s first pregnancy test dispenser in a public restroom. It’s part of their “Think Before You Drink Initiative” and the money made from the machine goes directly to them. They write:

Healthy Brains for Children seeks to locate pregnancy test dispensers in women’s restrooms in bars, gas stations, malls, fitness centers, etc. to target those at high risk for unexpecting pregnancies. The intent of the Pub 500 event was to plant an entrepreneurial seed and find partners in this initiative to put pregnancy tests worldwide in locations where women can test before drinking alcohol rather than waiting until a month or two into the pregnancy.

While countless studies have been done about the dangers of alcohol period, results vary (sometimes from week to week, it seems) about what is ok and what isn’t when you’re pregnant. Not to mention women make their own judgements about what is and isn’t acceptable for them personally during pregnancy, e.g. though some studies say a glass of wine now and then is perfectly fine, some ladies prefer to steer clear completely just to be on the safe side and some ignore studies altogether.

I’m really not sure what to think about this. On one hand I guess it’s a smart idea, for women who are not just concerned they might be pregnant but cautious about the effects of alcohol on their child. On the other, I think it’s another in a long line of weird, overly-personal intrusions. And perhaps the organization and those who are thinking about installing the machine should also consider putting a condom machine in the women’s restroom right next to the pregnancy test dispenser to, you know, prevent the “oh crap, I might be pregnant, let me check before I drink” thing entirely. But pregnancy/alcohol consumption concerns aside, it’s a good idea in my mind simply for ease of purchase. There are a lot of women and girls who feel too self-conscious to purchase a test over the counter and this is a simple solution to that problem.

What do you think?

(via NY Daily News)

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  • Level 60 Wizandrist

    It reeks of “we care more about your possible fetus than your body” – it isn’t birth control, it is a pregnancy test. It also isn’t coasters that help test for the presence of GHB and other additives in alcohol (in case of potential dosing by predators), and it isn’t ads to remind men that they shouldn’t assume consent from drunk women.

    Nope it is about pregnancy. Just because it might hypothetically alleviate someone anxious about a pregnancy test purchase in a pharmacy (that has technicians, staff) doesn’t mean it is coming from a good place. We need to spend more time and money on sex education rather than shaming women who might not know they are pregnant and caring about their potential babies if they drink and not know they are pregnant because a woman’s life or education isn’t as important as an embryo/fetus.

  • Katie Cunningham

    I love this idea. I’ve always found pregnancy tests to be way over-priced (and Dollar Tree doesn’t carry them by me), and I hate having to deal with the check-out person. Even in cases where I was hoping for a positive result, I really didn’t want to have to grab an overly curious rep to unlock it for me, then ring it up.

    Three bucks and I can drink with a clear concious? Awesome!

  • Thalia Sutton

    I agree with you about the ease of availability being a good thing for some. But I also think it, rather offensively, assumes that all women are at risk of being pregnant (and not knowing it) in such high numbers that this should be a facet of a restroom. *squints*

    And, about that quote…”in malls”? Women who go to malls and fitness centers are “highly at-risk” of “unexpecting [sic] pregnancies”? WTF. And did anyone else notice the “seed” comment? Nope, nope, you do not know what you’re doing. Get out of my restroom, and put that pregnancy test thing in the Men’s restroom (and the condoms in the women’s), so that both can learn, and have access to, a little responsibility. Sheesh.

  • Kifre

    This whole thing feels pretty judgmental and chaffing. I think most women can work out whether they’re at risk of being pregnant, can find a reasonably priced pregnancy test, and know the risks of drinking while pregnant. But thanks for reminding all us thoughtless women who patronize bars that babies come before all else?

  • Nick Simmonds

    My first thought was “derp”. This is seriously one of the very dumbest things I’ve ever heard. Setting aside the overblown fears about alcohol during pregnancy and the weird paternalism issues, this would require someone who wanted to “be responsible” to pony up $3 that could have been a beer, then duck into the no doubt lovely and non-hideous bathroom, use the test, then step out and wait for the blue dot or plus sign or whatever to appear before moving on to the drinking that they could have started an hour ago. Stupid business move, bad science, eerie patriarchy issues, all together adds up to something incredibly, mind-numbingly, pathetically stupid.

    I need a drink.

  • Marissa

    For me this most telling example I have had is within my own family. When my mother was pregnant with my brother it was “ok” and even encouraged to have a glass of wine in the evenings. She was very ill while pregnant with me and didn’t do so. With my sister she was fine and did. By the time my youngest sister came around it was “NOT ok” and she didn’t have any. My older brother and middle sister have bother struggled with alcohol issues in their lives while my youngest sister and I have not. Obviously it isn’t as clear cut as THIS IS WHAT WILL HAPPEN. But it was clear enough for me to make the call to have none when I was pregnant.

  • Alexis the Unicorn

    As an outsider looking in (I’m underage for the whole issue) But if anything that sounds like a convenience to have around. If I was worried about that then I’d rather slip quietly into the bathroom for a while instead of making a scene of having to go to the store to get one.

  • Umbreon Gal

    Oh my god I go to college in Mankato. The campus is literally covered in planned parenthood advertisements. On top of that, MSU is commonly referred to as “gonorrhea college.” I kid you not. I feel like drinking while pregnant isn’t really a problem here though, it’s more drinking in general that’s a major problem, especially at Pub 500. Perhaps they should think about putting in condom dispensers first? That just seems to make more sense to me. However, the convince of it is kind of nice, I won’t deny that. I can’t help but feel unsettled by the fact that it is there though. Like knowing that it exists just makes me feel slimy. But then again that may just be the fact that it’s in Pub 500. I can’t really bring myself to hate this idea, it seems pretty harmless, but I can’t really get behind it either. I can’t even justify the whole “well its convenient” thing, because on the way there from the campus you pass a Walgreens, there are buses that are free for students that constantly go from campus to Walmart, Target, Shopko, Cub, and the like, and, beating that, I think they sell them in the student health center, but I can’t be sure, I don’t really pay attention to that kind of stuff (I’m a lesbian, so I don’t have much need for pregnancy tests.) Really, this kinda seems like a solution to a problem that isn’t as present in this community. I don’t think it’s hurting anyone, but I don’t think it will be much help to more than a small handful of people. I would really appreciate it if they put condoms in the woman’s restrooms though. That just seems like a no-brainer to me.

  • Tony Sepulveda

    So, they offered something of use to people, didn’t force anyone to do anything, and people want to complain. Did anyone say there is no condom machine? Why do people get all sorts of pissy when someone says “By the way, think before you do something stupid.” This whole complaint reeks of teenage rebellion when someone out of concern says “Have fun while you are out, and be careful.” And the response they receive is “You can’t tell me what to do! Your not my mother!” Then proceed to drive without a seat belt simply out of spite. Ok, if they refused to serve you unless you took a test first, that is over the line, but offering the choice with no force is going to piss you off?

  • journodna

    What exactly is the problem with women having ready access to pregnancy tests?

    I have 3 adopted siblings with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Having seen the condition on an intimate level for several years, I know that if I found out today that I was more than six weeks pregnant (I don’t have regular periods and suffer from frequent nausea, so this is plausible), I don’t think I could make the choice to carry it to term. I’ve seen the lifelong issues that children and parents go through when dealing with FAS, and it’s not a walk in the park. I have no problem with helping women detect pregnancy before they drink so that they can make decisions (whether to drink, whether to schedule an appointment for an abortion, whether to pick up prenatal vitamins at the CVS next door) with relevant facts in front of them.

  • Anonymous

    I can see how this seems like it’s a way to prevent something bad from happening. When you see this situation, you agree with the idea of possibly preventing brain damage in unborn children. What’s the problem? Well, think of it this way. There’s laws being passed (and trying to be passed) that would take away your agency over your own body. Society tells you, because you are a certain gender, that you are 100% responsible for pregnancy, despite the fact that it takes two people to make a baby. And now, there are more intrusive measures taken to shame you into “Really, think of teh children!!” No one is being “pissy”. That’s some very exclusive language there. People get upset for a reason, just like you!

  • C. R. Lanei

    This doesn’t seem
    all that sinister. If a woman is out with friends who are drinking but isn’t
    sure if she should because she doesn’t want to drink while pregnant then she
    has an easy option. Once you’re pregnant a condom isn’t really going to do any
    good so while they should definitely have condom machines as well, they are
    solutions to two different problems:

    1. Do I want to get

    2. Am I pregnant?
    (because I don’t feel comfortable drinking alcohol while I am)

    Aside from any
    sexism, there are real risks to fetal development at different windows of time.
    Alcohol can be very harmful to neural tube development (which occurs before you
    even know you’re pregnant unless you happen to be actively and desperately trying
    to conceive). An unexpected pregnancy doesn’t necessarily mean an undesired
    pregnancy and certainly some women wish they had known sooner so they would
    have avoided stuff that they really didn’t care about (like alcohol). Seems
    like this is catering to those women.

    Yes, women are often
    burdened with the guilt for everything they put in their bodies but I don’t
    feel this is too heavy handed. I only knew about the terrifying world of
    “everything will hurt your baby” when I was pregnant. There are a lot
    of risks that you wish you’d known sooner (I have a condition that only 1% of
    women have and there’s too little education and warning on the issue as it is
    because the cost of the condition is extremely high).

    I would see a big
    problem with this if women are required to take the pregnancy test before they
    drink and show it to the bartender before ordering. As long as nothing shady
    like that is happening then it seems like the warning labels on everything.
    Annoying but pretty benign.

  • Anonymous

    There is more anonymity in a bathroom than in a pharmacy.

  • Skye

    I really don’t see this as The Man out to control your body. By the reasoning of other comments/OP, this seems about as intrusive/judgemental as condom machines. They assume you would be having unprotected sex otherwise and that you’re so stupid you need a big ol’ dispenser in the loo as a reminder to wrap it up. So maybe you have your act together and already have your own condoms and pills, but why should you deny other people access to them?
    I’ve bought pregnancy tests in pharmacies before, and it is not great both in terms of price and nosy customers/cashiers. Yes, I’m a woman, but I’m also in healthcare. You wouldn’t believe how just putting something in the right place works to get people to look after their health decisions. It’s not shaming to say “hey don’t drink if you might be pregnant,” shaming is the comments who say you should put on your big girl panties and go to a Walgreens to wave your maybe-baby in everyone’s face instead of having some privacy.

  • Tony Sepulveda

    One, I’m not upset. Two, putting up a machine that does not require you to use it in any way in a private establishment is in what way intrusive? Intrusive is creating a one sided law that imposes someone else’s will on you forcing you to do something. Forcing women to take a pregnancy test is intrusive. Selling them in an environment that can be harmful if you are pregnant, while a little weird and silly, is not. It is no more intrusive than putting a condom machine in a bar bathroom as if to say “Hey, you are about to engage in an activity that will lower your inhibitions, and can lead to you making bad choices, you can at least keep yourself and those you engage in it with safe in the process, and here is a way to do it, but it is your choice to buy it or not.” Does that mean that the owner of that establishment intruded themselves in my life? At the very most it would be them imposing their opinions on me, but if I don’t like it, I can go to a different bar. It is my choice to do so. Nobody is forcing me to buy and use a condom in this bar any more than they are forcing a woman to buy and use a pregnancy test (which is still admittedly a weird thing to sell in a bar).

  • Kifre

    There’s more comfort and convenience ordering one online and taking it at home. Amazon has a great selection….

  • Anonymous

    Some of my family friends had adopted children with fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). Due to damage to their brains from the effect of fetal alcohol, they were basically incapable of learning or understanding things like consequences of actions. They were basically trapped in constant adolescence; they were never going to be able to be independent. It’s tragic.

    Considering the serious negative effects of drinking while pregnant, I think the bar’s action is absolutely justified, even if it doesn’t seem like it would achieve much. They’re not even making anyone do anything, so I don’t see why it should be remotely objectionable; it harms nobody. This isn’t about an argument over birth control or choice. If you do choose to get pregnant, you should be responsible about it; you shouldn’t take actions that permanently damage your child and impose a serious and lasting burden on society.

  • Abigail Wallace

    They don’t take an *hour* to register, but speaking from the conservative end of political spectrum, I nevertheless agree that this could’ve been better thought out. While pregnancy-test vending machines seem like a good idea in general (I mean, you can buy condoms and tampons and other personal items from them, so why not?), I doubt you can put too much stock in these really making women less likely to drink when pregnant. If the woman had reason to believe she was pregnant, she most likely would’ve taken the test at home or her doctor’s office already. And if this is supposed to ward off “surprises,” well, false negatives are very common early on in the pregnancy, especially with cheaper tests, so I doubt very many women will change their minds about drinking as a result of this.

  • Anonymous

    But what if a 3 dollar pregnancy test doesn’t even work as well, making it so cheap? They could give a real scare to someone who isn’t pregnant and not looking to be.

  • Tempest in a Teapot

    A consumer pregnancy test is a simple ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) field kit. A sales rep for an ELISA kit vendor that works with my lab mentioned that the cost of pregnancy tests is more a function of demand, not production cost. In other words, they can be marked up because people need the results pretty quick, and the alternative tests are more expensive and time consuming since they have to be performed at a doctor’s office. Not that anyone out there is swimming in a Scrooge McDuck-style vault of cash because of the mark up, necessarily, but the profit margin is more than the cost of manufacturing them would otherwise suggest. Plus, home pregnancy tests are FDA-regulated; they’re not going to let them into the marketplace unless they actually work.

    Tl;dr: A $3 pregnancy test works just as well as the pricier ones.

  • Tempest in a Teapot

    I rather like the idea of having these machines in, say, malls, where you could buy one to use at later at home, but a bar? Do you camp in the stall (poor etiquette) until you get a result, or… bring the pee-soaked stick back to your table?

    A couple weeks ago, around closing time, there was a group of women near my booth who were soaking up spilled martinis with tampons (from their own purses, I believe). I wonder if Pub 500 patrons are already testing their beers.

  • Anonymous

    If you truly wish to empathize, refer to my first reply. Pretend I’m not you…

  • Anonymous

    I guess I feel like this gives off judgmental vibes, kind of saying “we can’t trust the ladies to manage their alcohol and/or know when they might possibly be pregnant” and that’s what gave me an initial uneasy feeling about it. It could potentially add to the little things here and there that chip away at a woman’s self esteem, though I really have no idea if the intended good result would outweigh this. Or if there is a better way to address the issue of fetal alcohol syndrome.

    I think I would feel better about it if it was just the dispenser without the warning message. Independent of the setting and warning, pregnancy test dispensers like this seem like they could be useful to some people.
    Also, regardless of whether the reaction is reasonable or not it’s pretty poor form to put down someone’s feelings before stating your point of view.

  • Anonymous

    I guess I feel like this gives off judgmental vibes, kind of saying “we can’t trust the ladies to manage their alcohol and/or know when they might possibly be pregnant” and that’s what gave me an initial uneasy feeling about it. It could potentially add to the little things here and there that chip away at a woman’s self esteem, though I really have no idea if the intended good result would outweigh this. Or if there is a better way to address the issue of fetal alcohol syndrome.

    I think I would feel better about it if it was just the dispenser without the warning message. Independent of the setting and warning, pregnancy test dispensers like this seem like they could be useful to some people.
    Also, regardless of whether the reaction is reasonable or not it’s pretty poor form to put down someone’s feelings before stating your point of view.

  • Anonymous

    And my mother drank stout regularly during mine & sibling’s gestation, and neither of us are remotely fussed about alchohol. Anecdata doesn’t help here. Limited amounts during part of the pregnancy has been shown to be safe, but the issue here is more that it adds to this alarming propensity for finger-wagging and intrusiveness aimed at women in the US, with women seemingly equated to be merely = their reproductive systems.

  • relmneiko

    This seems dumb to me simply because any woman with brains who has a late period is going to be worrying about pregnancy/has already taken a pregnancy test already. If you’re in the bar then you’ve already made your decision! This machine assumes women are complete idiots who need their hands held, like HAVE YOU TAKEN A PREGNANCY TEST YET, HAVE YOU, HAVE YOU?? If your period is 2 weeks late and you haven’t taken a pregnancy test already then you have shit for brains, sorry. (I smack myself in the face every time I hear stories of women with no periods on birth control not taking tests regularly. Women that dumb won’t even take pregnancy tests if you shove them in their face; don’t bother)

    It’s not even about making pregnancy tests available, let’s face it – the ones who are REALLY going to be ashamed to buy pregnancy tests in pharmacies are minors! These should be in highschool bathrooms, not bar bathrooms. But that’ll never happen, I’m sure.

  • Anonymous

    Yet I fail to see how having pregnancy test dispensers in bar bathrooms will help at all. I, for one, have never walked into a bar bathroom before having at least one beer. I sincerely doubt I’m in the minority in this. Personally? My local grocery has a pharmacy that sells pregnancy tests and a self-check out line. If a woman knows she doesn’t want to carry to term, she won’t be peeing on a stick in a bar anyway. This entire concept comes off as incredibly creepy and patriarchal to me. I know some women aren’t comfortable buying pregnancy tests from Rite Aid and aren’t as lucky as I am, so the mall idea seems appropriate, but bars? That is very, very weird.

  • Anonymous

    I actually don’t see them as comparable. I carry a stash of condoms in my purse. Doesn’t mean ‘m not capable of running out and if I think I’m going to hook up that night, having easy access would be convenient. If I’m worried about being pregnant, I will be taking that test at home, thanks. Or, at the very least, a time and place where I can do something about it immediately. Again, by the time someone risks a bar bathroom, it’s probably too late. If a woman is that concerned about drinking while pregnant, she’ll take a test before she goes out.