Pregnant politician sparks debate over seat-offering etiquette

Dan Kitwood / Today
British politician Jo Swinson, who is seven months pregnant, was forced to stand for 30 minutes at a House of Commons session on Thursday when no one offered up his seat, igniting a debate about etiquette.

A British politician who is seven months pregnant was spotted standing for 30 minutes at a House of Commons session on Thursday, igniting a fierce etiquette debate over whether she should have been offered a seat. 

Jo Swinson, 33, a British equality minister, stood at the back of a crowded chamber of hundreds of politicians for the duration of the Prime Minister’s Questions session, leading to a debate over whether a male member should have stood and offered her a seat because she is pregnant.

In the wake of the incident, the spokesman for Prime Minister David Cameron was asked by reporters at the regular Westminster briefing if Cameron would offer his seat to a pregnant woman on a bus and told reporters, “I’m sure he would.”

“Take the example of public transport. I think if you see someone who is in greater need of a seat than yourself I think offering that seat is a good thing to do,’’ the spokesman said. “Offering one's seat to someone who is in greater need than oneself on public transport? I think that's a very understandable thing to do."

Swinson tried to defuse any controversy on Thursday night by tweeting that she was fine with standing, and had not said that not being offered a seat was "sexist," as had been reported.

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TODAY's Willie Geist, Al Roker and Natalie Morales discussed the issue on Friday in TODAY's Take and decided there was no debate. They also felt it shouldn't matter whether a woman is pregnant or not, when it comes to a man offering to give up his seat on public transportation, or in a situation like Swinson underwent. 

"Just get up, I don't see two sides to this,'' Willie Geist said. 

"It's just common courtesy,'' added Al Roker.