Woman testifies for accommodations for pregnant people at transportation meeting

Meraal Hakeem

Ceaseless chafing of the inner thighs, intense pelvic pressure and decreased mobility are all pains of pregnancy Amanda Woog knows well. Being seven months pregnant, Woog sought to find a solution to cater to her lack of mobility on campus during her pregnancy.

“I was informed by UT Parking that UT does not provide parking accommodations for pregnant workers,” said Woog, a postdoctoral fellow at the UT Institute for Urban Policy Research. “But I could apply through the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles for a disability tag to receive a disability accommodation.”

Woog testified to the UT C-9 Transportation Policies Committee on Monday for accommodations specifically for pregnant women, such as parking within a quarter mile of their workplaces, because she said pregnancy should not be labeled a disability. 

“UT lags behind in its policies for pregnant workers and people with families, from its lacking parking accommodations to nonexistent paid family leave,” Woog said. “Pregnancy isn’t a disability but a physical accomplishment.”

Although the committee was sympathetic toward Woog’s case, members agreed she did not have standing because she already had an option to improve her mobility on campus, which was applying for a disability permit with the consent of her physician if need be.

“If she really needs the accommodations, she can get it,” said Bobby Stone, director of UT Parking and Transportation Services. “The question is … if there is a need and if there is a way to achieve that need right now and she chooses not to use that, then that’s her choice.”

Stone discussed Woog’s possible denial of accommodations already made available to her and if making an exception would bring into question whether such accommodations are necessary for her and other individuals with needs similar to hers.

“Mr. Stone seemed concerned that providing parking accommodations for pregnant workers would set a dangerous precedent for the University,” Woog said. “I think it would provide a much-needed precedent.”

The committee concluded by saying they could not enact change by themselves to favor Woog’s case but could construct policy that would need to be examined by the law, which over time, could possibly be incorporated into University policies.

“I thought it was crazy how the focus was all on this one legal technicality instead of focusing on what’s right for women and families at UT,” said Robert Pinkard, Woog’s husband. “It’s just another area where Texas lags behind compared to the rest of the country in terms of making accommodations for families and pregnant woman.”