Would you go up to a stranger or an acquaintance and touch or rub their stomach? Chances are, your answer is, “Heck no!”
Would your answer be different if the person was a woman who happened to be pregnant?
For some unwritten reason there are many out there, male and female, who think they have the right to touch a pregnant woman’s protruding belly, without asking for permission. Well, Pennsylvania may be one of the first states to make this intrusion a crime and, if it does, others will follow.
I remember talking to my girlfriend when she was pregnant and hearing stories of friends, colleagues and distant family members touching her preggo belly as if it was a good luck charm and not part of her body. I thought then, and still do, that it is wrong and completely insensitive.
However, I am not sure if I am ready to consider it a crime. Granted, any unwanted touch can be considered an assault under the law but again, I am not sure I am ready to add a grandma rubbing a preggo belly to the list of criminals.
When I was pregnant I did not love being touched. Truth be told, pregnant or not, I am not a physically “touchy-feely” person and I would be very taken aback if someone touched my belly without permission. That being said, this happened to me a couple times during my two pregnancies and it did not cause me to want to throw the person in jail (probably because they were friends of my husband’s). Had they been complete strangers, I may have felt different. In reality, they probably would have gotten a very sharp slap on their hands and a nasty look.
The challenge I see with making this a crime is what I call “the all or nothing” part. Would it only be a crime for strangers? For only colleagues? For everyone? Is a second cousin you just met as bad of a perpetrator as a stranger in the subway station?
Where would the line be drawn? Could it be less than everyone? In reality, someone would only be charged if the woman herself called the cops, yet these are valid questions the lawmakers in Pennsylvania should ask themselves.
Here is the take-away: I think making it a crime may be a bit extreme, yet I caution anyone who has the desire to touch/rub/massage/poke a pregnant woman’s belly. It is not yours, it is hers, it is a part of her body. In fact, it is her baby and in case you did not already know, most women are very protective of their body and of their children.