No Maternity Leave in a Forced Birth Nation

The United States hates women. What other conclusion can we come to?

Last year, the Supreme Court ended fifty years of established law and healthcare protection for women in the Dobbs case, which reversed Roe vs. Wade. Though the decision didn’t outright ban bodily autonomy for women, it pushed the issue back to the States, refusing to protect the human rights of half its citizens. 

Thirteen states already had trigger laws on the books, banning abortion immediately. Over a year later, 14 states have complete bans, and seven more have such restrictive laws that they may as well be bans. The states with bans are enacting even harsher laws restricting women’s free movement around the country. 

Refusing To Help The Women It Forces To Give Birth

You’d think a country that’s so adamant about forcing women to give birth would do everything in its power to ensure they can do so in a healthy way. 

Not the US.

The country that claims it cares so much about unborn lives has no universal healthcare. Mothers can’t afford essential prenatal care. It also has one of the highest maternal death rates in the world. 

No Maternity Leave

Lots of publications discuss the healthcare problems and lack of social services for mothers forced to give birth. 

We need to discuss yet another way the US punishes women for daring to have sex: The lack of guaranteed paid maternity leave. 

The United States has no laws regarding any type of paid time off. No employees in the country are entitled to free time. We don’t even have paid sick leave, a lapse that forces low-wage employees into an awful choice: they can go to work sick or stay home and lose out on pay (and possibly lose their job, as the US has no protections against firing someone for calling in sick.)

There’s also no maternity leave, meaning mothers must return to work immediately after giving birth or risk losing their income. 

Family Medical Leave Act

Of course, the US pretends it has mothers covered, trotting out the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) as a resource that protects mothers. The FMLA protects people with severe health conditions and those starting new families. People can’t be fired for taking time off under FMLA.

Unfortunately, the law has severe limitations. 

First, FMLA only guarantees six weeks of unpaid time off. Six weeks. Many women are bedridden for weeks before giving birth, and others nearly die on the operating table during C-sections and births gone wrong. And they only have six weeks to recover. 

Second, it’s unpaid. 

Can you go six weeks without a paycheck? Can you imagine going six weeks without a paycheck when you have a brand-new baby to care for? It’s preposterous. 

And third, it doesn’t protect everyone. Only 56% of Americans are even eligible for FMLA protections. 

Using Vacation Time

Women lucky enough to score job positions with benefits have things a bit better. Though very few companies offer maternity leave, many do offer a few days of paid vacation and sick leave. 

New moms get to use up all their earned time off recovering from childbirth.

It’s Not Just The Recovery

Women need time off work to recover from childbirth. However, women also need time to bond with their babies. 

Six weeks is barely enough for recovery and not enough to get in the groove of motherhood. We don’t even take puppies from their mothers until the eight-week mark, yet we force women away from their newborn babies (that we forced them to have) immediately because they have no other options. 

If they don’t go back to work, they risk losing their jobs and their livelihoods. They won’t be able to feed their babies. 

No One Cares

The forced birth crowd doesn’t care about any of this. They don’t care that women risk death in pregnancy and childbirth, and they don’t care that people forced to remain pregnant against their will have higher rates of poverty. 

Why would they care that women have to choose between losing their jobs and recovering from surgery or bonding with their babies?

It’s a Dark Time for the United States

We can empathize with people who consider the unborn separate humans.  However, we can’t understand why those very people don’t view the women carrying them as humans. 

Women are people. Women deserve human rights and dignity, the ability to choose their own healthcare, and to control what happens with their bodies and their lives. 

It’s the 21st century. The US needs to ditch the Dark Ages.