Move over microbrews! The newest item on tap at one bar in Minnesota? Pregnancy tests. Walk into the restroom at Pub 500, a popular Mankato watering hole, and with a swipe of a credit card for the $3 testing stick, women can now find out in minutes whether they should have paid a cover charge for two.
The buzz-worthy idea for the pregnancy test dispenser actually came from one of the bar's regular customers, Jody Allen Crowe, 56, a retired teacher and founder of the nonprofit Healthy Brains for Children, which aims to reduce the occurrence of fetal alcohol syndrome.
As Christina Capecchi writes in a post on Motherlode, Crowe and his group installed the dispenser in mid-July, at almost the same moment the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a survey showing that 1 in 13 women consume alcohol during pregnancy and nearly 1 in 5 expectant moms binge drink—downing four or more drinks in one sitting.
However, it was also at this time that new research came out that said light to moderate drinking likely poses no real risk for alcohol-related birth defects. The official stance from obstetrician and pediatrician groups remains that no known amount of alcohol is safe to consume during pregnancy.
Healthy Brains for Children takes a zero-tolerance approach to moms-to-be imbibing. According to the sign posted above the machine, "A pregnant mother should not be drinking, and there are many cases where she may not even know that she is pregnant." And that last part has some very strong statistics to back it up: approximately 30 percent of married women and 70 percent of 20- to 29-year-old women have unexpected, unplanned pregnancies, according to the nonprofit.
While this has all the potential for some very awkward first dates, the machine has already vended a few dozen pregnancy tests. Some of Pub 500's female patrons say the anonymity and privacy might be a real appeal for a woman who wants to know, but doesn't want to go through a store checkout line with a pregnancy test. (Pregnancy tests are actually one of the most commonly shoplifted items notes Capecchi.)
But at least one customer is a little put off. "I would not want to come to a bar and take a pregnancy test," Ixia Leyva, 28, tells Motherlode. "That probably means you don't care and you're going to drink anyway, so it's pretty pointless. Maybe a condom dispenser—that's smarter."
A female bartender at Pub 500, who thinks the dispenser is "cool," tells Capecchi that when you need to know, you need to know—even if it's at a bar.
"Who hasn't been there?" she asks.