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Proposed Pregnancy Parking Placards Pooh-poohed
by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion Daily Express Email News Service.

SACRAMENTO, Feb. 27, 2004 -- CA Assemblyman Tony Strickland was just trying to "make life easier for everybody". Instead, he has put himself at the center of a battle over accessible parking.

Two weeks ago, the Republican lawmaker introduced a bill in the state Legislature that would allow pregnant women to park in spaces designated for people with disabilities.

Assembly Bill 1947 would direct the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue specially-colored parking placards to any woman who can produce a doctor's note showing she is in the third trimester of her pregnancy.

Strickland's proposal has been criticized from several sides.

Disability rights groups are worried that the new permits would make people with disabilities compete against 500,000 pregnant Californians each year for parking that is already limited.

"I'm not against mothers-to-be," said Ramona Garcia, chair of the governing board of Resources for Independent Living in Sacramento and Yolo counties. "But given the resources we have, it's a concern."

Women's groups, on the other hand, are worried that the move would send the subtle message that being pregnant is a form of disability.

Helen Grieco, executive director of California's chapter of the National Organization for Women noted that many pregnant women live very active lives right up until they deliver their babies.

"Fundamentally, pregnancy is not a disability, it's a very normal function in a woman's reproductive life," Grieco told the Modesto Bee last week.

"I don't want to see a parking situation where someone with a disability and a pregnant woman pull up and it's like, well, who gets to have it?" she added.

Under current California law, pregnant women can get a temporary parking placard if a doctor determines that their pregnancy limits their mobility to a significant degree.

"I don't want to pit disabled people against pregnant women," said Rep. Strickland, who has suggested that businesses might want to add more spaces to accommodate pregnant women. "I want to see how we can make life easier for everybody."

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