Hands Off My Pregnancy: Pennsylvania Renews Baby Bump Law

Rubbing a stranger’s belly is a breach of etiquette (and at least a little weird) in most places. Now, women in Pennsylvania have been reminded that they shouldn’t stand for strangers touching their pregnant bellies without their permission. In fact, it’s considered harassment and the courts have renewed the warning following a case in Cumberland County.

“Essentially, someone had touched a pregnant woman’s belly. That’s very common that pregnant women have to go through that. The only problem is when you harass, annoy, alarm in the act of touching, then it’s a violation, a harassment charge,” local attorney Phil DiLucente told WPXI.

The law is meant to protect women from being violated – a baby bump does not turn their bodies into public property. For some women, it highlights a struggle to assert control of their bodies at a time when society maintains a discerning eye on what they drink, how much they rest, exercise and worry. Everyone from the coffee barista to the checkout clerk feels the obligation to advise, recommend, caution, judge and yes, sometimes touch.

Is belly touching based on entitlement or enticement? Is it creepy or well-meaning? Is there an assumption of consent, and if so – how to stop it? Maybe people are naturally inclined to reach out and feel the growth of new life, in some connected to the earth, mother-nature kind of way. Or maybe it’s just that the lines for pregnant women and their choices have not been drawn in bold enough fonts.

Some see the law as part of a bigger issue for pregnant women, others think the issue is exaggerated. So, is the law common sense and or too severe? How do you get people to keep their hands off your belly?