I don't think your conclusion is what anyone here is advocating, J. The conclusion I would state is that women should be given FULL information on ALL the things that are known to be risks, especially when handed to her by someone in a position of power (like a doctor), and then they should be allowed to make their own decisions.
I also disagree with the assertion that contaminents like murcury and POPs "have articulated safe ingestion levels" any more than alcohol. In the US, we say "eh, a little bit of murcury is probably fine" and "good lord no alcohol!". In the UK they say "eh, a little bit of murcury or alcohol is probably fine." The science says that there are no known safe limits for either. What we have for both are recommendations (often conflicting) based on best guesses, other people's risk ratio analyses, and what is best from a public policy standpoint that doesn't necessarily take either the woman nor the fetus's health into account (the FDA has a higher fish allowance recommendation than many scientific or environmentalist groups are comfortable with, because they don't want to contribute to a crash in the fishing industry).
Personally, I do my best to avoid murcury and POPs in general (avoiding alcohol isn't exactly something I have to work at), but I will consume some when the benefits outweigh the risks for me, just as I will consume some alcohol when the benefits outweigh the risks for me. I don't use pain medications because they're easy enough to avoid, just like alcohol, but if the benefit ratio were to change, I might be willing to. The point isn't that we should have an "anything goes" attitude about any of these risks, but that we should be advocating for good information and the right to make personal decisions. Different people will make different decisions based on their individual circumstances and their particular comfort levels. What's so wrong with that?
I'm not opposing people's right to make a decision for themselves, but inquiring as to the process that leads to believing any particular choice is a wise one. I also have a bias because I work managing services for children who have disabilities, and in many cases it is the tax system and charitable donations who pay some/many/most/all of the costs of supporting children with disabilities. The "burden" of an individual choice then shifts from the individual, or becomes shared. (and I'm not saying that the choice should be taken from the individual, just that the choice may not be "free" and that should be recognized)
I wholeheartedly concur that reliable information needs to be available upon which people can make decisions. I guess what I was thought I heard was decisions being made in the absence of information.
(this post feels like a rehash of what I've previously said, so I apogize for any redundancy).
This is interesting - the "subject" is alcohol in pregnancy, but it's taken on some interesting ethical explorations.