USA needs mandatory paid parental leave

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U.S. is dead last among developed countries when it comes to paid maternity/parental leave!

For a country that boasts of being “#1”, America is actually at the bottom: Swaziland, Lesotho, Papua New Guinea and the United States of America (ILO, 2014). 

So, WE, THE PEOPLE, call on YOU, our elected officials, to propose, sign and pass common sense legislation on Mandatory Paid Maternity/Parental Leave NOW! It is your main responsibility to act today to protect the future of this country: its children.

This is common sense for pretty much any other country on this earth. I mean... we all agree that it is an infant’s fundamental right to have his mother, be fed, changed and receive proper basic care & early education. So... why is birth in America almost as expensive as brain surgery? Why is infant daycare in America a for profit business (nowadays, more expensive than college)? Why is the American mother coerced to return to work rather than encouraged to take the time to lactate and bond with her infant?

Simple: in America, maternity is seen as a “disability” and a “handicap”.

Not only is that downright insulting for the women, but it also demeans the value of a child. A child is not a handicap! Maternity is a natural process, not a diseaseMother rights are #HUMAN RIGHTS! Infant rights are HUMAN RIGHTS.

It is a nation’s job to nurture and protect its own children. Because it does take a village. In fact, it takes a whole country! Raising and investing in a nation’s future can’t and shouldn’t fall ONLY on the shoulders of the mother! Making sure taxes go towards enabling and supporting LIFE (not just wars) is NOT a choice. It’s a MUST.

Unpaid maternity is not a "minor issue"- as some claim. Let’s call it what it is: infanticide (= “the crime of killing a child within a year of birth”).

Because unpaid maternity leave has severe repercussions: on breastfeeding habits, on an infant’s and a mother’s (physical and psychical) health, on a women’s choice to have a child/or not. So, yes, it directly affects the future of the whole country. It can be seen as a death sentence not just for my kid, but for a whole generation down the road. In an aging America, the American woman’s decision to forgo motherhood has deadly social and economic consequences.

Yet, more and more American women are choosing NOT to have children for a very simple reason: they can’t afford them. U.S. does absolutely NOTHING to promote birth rates or reinforce the family; quite the opposite.

Time to replace those “pro-birth” signs with pro-life and actually mean it! As in, truly support an infant’s right to life and to have his mother /father there to care for the child in the first year of his/her life. This is not about choice; it’s about survival as a City/State/Nation.

Saying that it is illegal to sell a puppy before 8-12 weeks (check equivalent in human months/years), yet forcing a mother to leave her weeks old infant to return to work defies all logic and common sense!

Legally reinforcing the mother’s right to have the proper time to recover after a, many times, very tough and expensive medical event (birth), is the humane thing to do.

A 2015 report from WHO (the World Health Organization) pointed out that the U.S. has a higher maternal mortality rate than Iran, Libya and Turkey: 19 out of 100,000.00 women are dying from pregnancy and childbirth complications in U.S. today (more than any other time in recent history!)

Prenatal care, postpartum care and a decent mandatory paid maternity & family leave are a no-brainer for ALL high-income, civilized countries. All, but America.

Canada gets it! And it ensures all moms have at least 12 MONTHS paid with their newborn and decent daycare, regardless of their income level. UK gets it! – 52 weeks paid maternity leave. In fact, most European countries offer 6 months to 2 years paid maternity leave.

Some U.S. cities have passed legislation mandating up to six weeks of paid parental leave for full time workers. SIX WEEKS! I often hear: “well, it’s a start...”; “we’re lucky to even have that”. “Lucky”? A “start”? NO. Hypocritical is what that is. It is plain and simple a crime against both the mother and the child. As any responsible mother knows, an infant depends on his mom completely in the first 6 months – 1 year; it needs to be breast/fed, and cared for, and loved.

Motherhood is not a privilege; and it’s not just a personal “choice”. It’s a God given right. It’s hard work. It’s selflessness incorporated.

Research has linked paid maternity leave to better health for mothers and babies-lower rates of postpartum depression and infant mortality and higher rates of breastfeeding and childhood immunizations. (Rita Rubin, #Forbes Contributor).

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which analyzed national survey data, found that:

1. Women who had fewer than 12 weeks of maternity leave and fewer than eight weeks of paid leave were more likely to have more symptoms of depression.

2. Employed women who received 12 weeks or more of paid maternity leave were more likely than women who did not get any paid leave to start breastfeeding their baby and continue to breastfeed for at least six months (as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics).

The 1993 Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides 12 weeks of UNPAID leave – if you worked at least a year (and a minimum of 1,250 hours) for a company with at least 50 employees or a public agency or public or private elementary or secondary school.

According to the Department of Labor, only 12% of U.S. workers in the private sector can get paid family leave through their employer. More than 40% of U.S. workers don't meet all of FMLA's requirements, and even if they do, many can't afford to take unpaid leave.

I’M ONE OF THEM. If a single mother, like me is supposed to take unpaid leave: how is she supposed to pay for mortgage? How is she supposed to pay for formula/food? How is she supposed to pay for utilities? Etc.

Personally, I've been shamed more than once, as a single mom by choice, for making the conscious choice to have a child “I can't afford”. Yet, the percentage of aging single women is on the rise in America and the costs of childbearing are hard on a two income family; let alone one. 

Affordability is a matter of circumstance, not choice. What one might be able to afford today, they could very well not be able to afford tomorrow. For example, one could lose their job = change in affordability.

Besides, I could "afford" to pay for public schools and teachers for other people's kids from my taxes year after year, but... turns out my kid's early education and care while I'm at work is not considered a “basic necessity”.

I make 40k/year before taxes, working full time. Infant care is around 2-3K/month, which is about what I make after taxes. I'm NOT "income eligible" for any government sponsored programs. Medical costs for birth, even with a good insurance and without health complications, are outrageous... A mother like me is left with NO choice. Economically speaking, the only "right" decision is to not have a child since it having one is plain and simple unaffordable. But my baby’s life does NOT have a value set randomly by a so called free market, gamed by the lucky and the rich.

I'm a responsible person, who has built her piece of American dream from nothing. But... I am close to reaching my breaking point. All because I want to become a mom (a single mom), in a society that is still not ready to respect or support #motherhood.

The truth is, what I can't "afford" is to be in two places at the same time: at work full time and at home taking care of my baby full time. And that is not a choice I made. That choice was made by a hypocritical thinking which ignores that America is already dealing with an aging population. But, unlike many of the childless by choice ladies my age, I chose to fight instead of giving up. I chose to give my boy a chance to life, despite finding myself against impossible odds.

So, I need YOU. I need you to take a stand with me. I need you encouraging me, lifting me up and fighting by my side. Not only for myself, but for millions of infants who will become our future generations, your future workers, the ones who will sustain our benefits system.

PLEASE SIGN this petition and pledge to do ALL that is in your power to bring America at the TOP - as a country who truly respects human rights: Women and Infants included. Mandatory PAID Maternity/Parental leave is a necessity and it needs to be addressed with utmost priority.

OUR FUTURE DEPENDS ON IT!

Thank you,

Denisa.



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