Weatherford Democrat

AP Story Section

September 12, 2008

Expecting? Stork parking convenient, controversial


Babies R Us, which has 250 stores across the U.S., had been offering stork parking since its first store opened in 1996 in Westbury, N.Y. The number of spaces varies from store to store, depending on the size of the parking lot and lease restrictions, and there are no laws governing the spaces.

The store offers the spaces simply as a convenience, similar to the baby care rooms that are also in every store, said Jamie Beal, a Babies R Us spokeswoman.

‘‘We want to make ourselves an invaluable partner in preparing for and raising baby,’’ Beal said.

Some pregnant customers use the spaces, while others prefer to park farther away to get more exercise, Beal said.

In fact, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists promotes safe exercise such as walking during pregnancy as a way to combat fatigue and promote health.

‘‘Exercise during pregnancy can help prepare you for labor and childbirth. Exercising afterward can help get you back in shape,’’ according to the group’s Web site.

(Hmmmm. Maybe I shouldn’t complain so much about the long walk in the parking lot after all.)

In March, California state lawmakers considered a proposal that would allow some pregnant women or new moms to park in spaces reserved for the disabled. The bill didn’t make it out of committee.

Opponents, including some advocates for the disabled and women’s groups, argued that the bill wasn’t necessary. They said if pregnant women have special medical conditions that qualify them for a disabled parking permit, there are already procedures they can follow in California — and some other states — to get temporary disabled placards.

Shannon Smith-Crowley, a California lobbyist for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said the bill’s sponsor had good intentions, but that it isn’t appropriate to label pregnant women as disabled.

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