Opinion

A pro-lifer’s view on paid family leave

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The primary reason women say they have abortions is socio-economic. A 2013 study showed that 40 percent of the time, finances contribute to a woman’s decision to abort her baby. A 2005 study showed that 74 percent said, “Having a baby would dramatically change my life,” and 73 percent said, “Can’t afford a baby now.” Both factor in jobs, with 21 percent saying, “Can’t leave job to take care of a baby.”

The United States is one of seven nations which allows for elective abortions past 20 weeks, and one of four which allows for elective abortions until birth. It is also only one of two, out of 185 nations with available data, which provides no federally guaranteed paid maternity leave for working mothers. (The other is Papua New Guinea, leaving the United States with the distinction of being the only developed nation.)

A woman should not feel like she should have to have an abortion because she’ll be worried about issues with her job, particularly because she’s worried she won’t be able to afford taking vacation or sick days to stay at home with her newborn.

Family medical leave has become a hot topic for these reasons, but oddly, it is the most extreme pro-abortion politicians who seem to be championing this pro-family idea.

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed  an employee funded paid family leave program into law for New York State earlier this month, but he is also known for championing late-term abortion, and for saying that pro-lifers are not welcome in New York state. The not-so-pro-life city of San Francisco now requires that employers provide 6-week fully paid family leave.  Despite passing pro-family policies at the state and local levels, New York and California are ranked the seventh and fourth least protective states for life, respectively.

Other pro-abortion politicians have championed this pro-family idea. President Barack Obama, in his 2015 and 2016 State of the Union addresses, called for paid family leave. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) sponsored the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act multiple times in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives.

The two Democratic presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, have each made paid family leave a part of their campaign – yet both candidates also make abortion a part of their campaign, including it in the same discussion as paid family leave.

All of the Democrats mentioned unequivocally support abortion, and Obama, Clinton, and Gillibrand also make the list of 25 politicians who have received the most campaign contributions from the nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood (coming in at first, third, and ninth place, respectively).

And yet while Democrats have championed paid family leave, Republicans have not been so keen on heeding the calls or supporting such legislation – but it seems that their reasons have more to do with intrusion of the federal government than anything else. They have pointed out that European nations, which are known for providing long-term family leave, are not necessarily a good role model for the United States.

Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) told The Hill, “I never thought that  emulating the European economic model is good for America.”

His concerns are warranted. Greece, which offers women 17 weeks of paid maternity leave, has faced serious economic troubles and had to be bailed out for the third time last August.

Dent also stated:

I certainly encourage employers to provide paid family leave, but not all employers are the same. Some are better positioned to do so than others. It’s that simple.

This aligns with Rep. Steve Chabot’s statement. Chabot said his objection lies with the government’s penalizing of small businesses through federal mandates – not with the idea of paid family leave:

The American families going without paid sick leave or maternity care do so because Washington makes our small businesses choose between providing those benefits or paying the price of overregulation and higher taxes. We won’t make those jobs any more secure by handing employers another federal mandate, we’ll make them better and more stable by reducing the uncertainty and frustration that happens when Washington is in the way.

Of course there is still time and money to be put into raising an infant after 6 or 12 weeks. Pregnant and parenting women can turn to government assistance program – which could serve women and their children even better, perhaps, when they are a complement to paid family leave laws.

The Department of Health and Human Services has a website dedicated to “Maternal and Child Health.” There’s also the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

And let’s not forget pro-life pregnancy resource centers, which aren’t just for pregnant women. Many offer assistance to women and their children, ranging from referrals to financial and material assistance well past the child’s newborn stage. The Morning Center is one example of completely free health care centers for mothers and children. There is truly no reason pregnant women need to feel alone or without help when they give life to a child. This is one of the chief reasons Planned Parenthood and abortion clinics should be required to inform women of the government and charitable help available to them – it almost always exceeds expectations.

The priority of pro-lifers is to make sure that all children have their worth and rights recognized from the moment they are conceived, because without life, we have nothing at all. Yet fighting for children and their families need not stop after birth.

Today’s Congress is not known for compromise, which may account for its 11 percent approval rating. But perhaps, despite their differing views on respect for life, compromise could happen – Republicans on a government mandate, and Democrats on concerns from Republicans dealing with taxes and regulation.

I look forward to the day when leaders and citizens of all political parties can respect life from the moment of conception, and are understanding of the issues new parents may face when it comes to being able to afford having children and spending time with them.

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