The US is failing by not having national paid leave

Photo courtesy of Flickr | Families should be able to bond with each other for more than four weeks after the birth of a baby.

We call the United States the most powerful country in the world, why is it that we can’t provide national paid leave for everyone?

Recently, I read an opinion article written by Bess Kalb entitled “Without Parental Leave I Might Be Dead.” In this article, Kalb talks about her experience with a placenta-related problem that caused her to bleed internally for weeks after the birth of her son. 

What saved her life was the fact that she had some paid time off from work that she could take while she received and recovered from life-saving surgery. 

The United States is currently one of only six countries in the world, and the only rich one, that does not provide any form of national paid leave. 

Why isn’t this available to all people, regardless of their job?

Right now, there is a plan in Congress for four weeks of paid family and medical leave. While Democrats originally wanted twelve weeks of paid leave, they scaled it back due to opposition.

Globally, the average paid maternity leave is 29 weeks and the global average paternity leave is 16, reported the New York Times on Nov. 3.

How is it that the self-proclaimed best country in the world can’t provide paid time off to new parents? And, if this plan goes through, is four weeks really enough time to spend with a newborn before you go back to work?

Kalb writes in her article that if she’d “…had only four weeks of paid leave after giving birth, I might be dead.” She went in for her surgery at six weeks postpartum. 

Sure, four weeks is a step in the right direction but it is not enough. 

A study on family leave after childbirth and mental health in mothers published in 2012, shows that having less than 12 weeks maternity leave and less than eight weeks of paid maternity leave are linked to higher rates of symptoms of depression and a decreased overall health status.

It is not just the mothers that benefit from having more time with their children, the children benefit from it as well. 

Another study published by the Harvard Review of Psychiatry in 2019 which looked at the impact of paid family leave on mothers and children, found that there was “improved infant attachment and child development…” 

The study also discovered that having paid maternity leave was associated with“…a decrease in infant mortality and in mother and infant rehospitalizations…”  

It is obvious that having paid parental leave is beneficial for both the parents and the child, but yet, Republicans refuse to let Democrats have the full twelve weeks of paid parental and medical leave that they originally wanted. Why?

Republicans may say they are the family values party but are they really? Do they have parents’ interests at heart? It would seem that they do not. 

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