Even as they've expanded in recent years, the laws protecting pregnant women at work are patchwork and continue to leave out a lot of women, Gedmark said. Discriminating against pregnant women is clearly illegal. But whether a business has to accommodate pregnant women, by giving them a stool to sit on or allowing them more water breaks, remains unclear. Different states have different standards for what kinds of accommodations pregnant workers are legally entitled to receive. Furthermore, the definition of what can be considered a pregnancy-related disability, and therefore requires accommodations, remains elusive among lawmakers on the federal level, as well as in states that lack clear protections.
The Associated Press notes: "Duckworth gave birth to her first child in 2014, while serving in the House. She is one of only 10 lawmakers who have given birth while serving in Congress. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., was a U.S. representative when she had her second child in 2008. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., has had three children while serving in Congress."
Obstetric violence is institutional, gender-based violence, suffered by pregnant women at the hands of healthcare personnel. In a 2007 law, Venezuela said it includes dehumanised treatment, abuse of medication, and “the appropriation of the body and reproductive processes of women by health personnel… bringing with it loss of autonomy and the ability to decide freely about their bodies and sexuality.” In 2014, the World Health Organisation described disrespectful and abusive care during childbirth – including physical and verbal abuse, refusals of care and medication, and coercive or unconsented medical procedures – as human rights violations.
Of the thousands of research studies in the U.S. recruiting women right now, just a few dozen specifically include pregnant women. And while the other trials technically could enroll pregnant women — after meeting certain requirements — they often don’t. “It’s absolutely possible to do studies in pregnant women,” Dr. Catherine Spong, an obstetrician who is leading the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development task force. The task force will present its recommendations to the federal health department next year.