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Why Abortion Restrictive States Do Less for Working Mothers

July 29th, 2019 Christopher Davis

MothersIndividuals on both sides of the abortion debate are noticing a contradiction–states with the most restrictive abortion laws have the weakest support for pregnant women and mothers in the workplace.  Nine states passed bills to limit abortion in 2019, including Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, and Ohio; but these states have fewer protections for pregnant women. In a report by the National Partnership for Women and Families, states were assigned a letter grade A through F based on the quality of their paid leave policies.  States with the most stringent abortion laws: Alabama, Mississippi, Ohio, Kentucky, Georgia, Louisiana, and Utah earned grades of D or F. States with more relaxed abortion laws like Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, and California earned grades of A or B.

Where the U.S. Stands

The United States is the only country in the developed world that doesn’t guarantee paid maternity leave for all new mothers.  The Family Medical Leave Act, which mandates unpaid leave for new mothers, doesn’t even cover 40% of employees–those who have less than 50 colleagues and have worked for their employer for less than a year. In contrast, OECD countries provide 18 weeks of paid maternity leave on average. Similarly, 46% of people in the United States believe that abortion is unacceptable. This means that Americans are more hostile to abortion than any other developed country; including Japan, Poland, Germany, and Sweden.

Case Study: South Carolina

Whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, supporting working mothers should be a priority. For example, an unexpected duo advocated for South Carolina’s Pregnancy Accommodation Act in May 2018 which formalized protections for pregnant women in the workplace: abortion rights supporters at the Women’s Rights and Empowerment Network and the Palmetto Family Council, a conservative-religious advocacy group. The act ensures longer bathroom breaks, assistance with manual labor, lighter duties, and modified food and drink policies for pregnant women. While the two organizations had once clashed on the state’s abortion legislation, they were finally “on the same page pragmatically” when it came to supporting working mothers.  The two associations even continue to work together on legislation that would give pregnant women paid breaks to pump breast milk.  The atypical nature of their alliance emphasizes the fact that pro-life legislatures, organizations, and lobbyists are rarely “pro-life after birth.” Sarah Fleisch Fink, director of workplace policies at the National Partnership for Women & Families says that “there is a disconnect.”  She continues, “on the policy level, there is a real story to states that are taking away abortion care but that are doing nothing for families who are having children.”

Seek Legal Assistance

If you are the victim of pregnancy discrimination in the workplace, the Working Solutions Law Firm, located in New York City, can assist you. Contact us today at (646)430-7930 to schedule a free case evaluation and receive experienced legal counsel.