Expand Maternal Leave for Working Women

Maternal Death Clock Unveiled in New York

Target: U.S. President Barack Obama

Goal: Provide pregnant women with adequate pregnancy and childbirth leave

Recently, a pregnant woman who works for the grocery chain Albertsons in California lost her baby.  This was because the store managers refused to accommodate her high-risk pregnancy by moving her to a different department, where she would not have had to lift heavy boxes. The underlying issue here is that pregnant women do not have access to an adequate leave policy. The majority chooses to work until the last day of pregnancy so they can use the time off to care for the newborn. Urge our president to push for more time off for pregnant women.

The Federal Medical Leave Act (FMLA) passed by Congress in 1993 guarantees 12 weeks of unpaid leave to some employees. This is inadequate, because if a pregnant woman is carrying a high-risk pregnancy, she might have no choice but to start this leave before a baby is born, exhausting her time off. She would then have to choose between work and her baby. This is an unfair choice. Women should get at least six months of guaranteed job protection after the baby is born, and another two months before birth.

If lawmakers were to expand FMLA to all pregnant women in the country, this would help reduce more than 3,700 pregnancy discrimination charges filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2012. Complaints to the Commission rose 65 percent between 1992 and 2007. Women lose their children because there is no culture of respect for their needs. When such blatant disregard is shown to women in America, the government needs to step in to protect our most cherished beings: children. Of course, that starts with protecting their future mommies. Sign below to ask President Obama to take leadership on this issue and expand FMLA.

Dear Mr. President,

Since the Federal Medical Leave Act passed in Congress in 1993, it is clear today that it is inadequate for pregnant women. It provided 12 weeks on unpaid leave to some workers, depending on the place of employment. Many women, even if they are carrying high-risk pregnancies, choose to work until the last day so they could take these 12 weeks after the child is born. This sometimes turns into tragedies such as miscarriages or death of a newborn. Employers still have not learned that pregnant women need special accommodations. They should not be lifting heavy boxes or merchandize.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reported that in 2012 it received more than 3,700 pregnancy discrimination charges, and complaints rose 65 percent between 1992 and 2007. If FMLA were expanded, giving women more time to care for themselves and their babies, even unpaid time off, that would make a huge difference in their lives. They should not be forced to make a choice between work and their babies. They should get at least six months of guaranteed job protection after the child’s birth and two months before birth. This modest change would make an impact of maternal and infant mortality rate, coincidentally one of the highest among industrialized nations.

Please take leadership to expand FMLA from 12 weeks to a minimum 8 months total: 2 months before and 6 months after pregnancy. That would make a difference in women’s lives and raise morale in the society, where women’s rights are still ignored by employers who exploit pregnant women at work.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Amnesty International via Flickr

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  1. Sheila D GGma Sheila says:

    How wonderful it would be in our free and democratic society that everyone would be equal, not needing laws and/or Constitutional changes to make it so.

    Pregnant women need to take care of themselves AND the wondrous life growing wthin. Lately I’ve read horror stories about the treatment of pregnant women by employers. We need to recognize that they have some special needs but that doesn’t mean they cannot do the job. Those last two months are needed to help insure the health of both mother and child, making for a safe and healthy birth.

    It’s time we give them and their precious cargo the time to heal, to establish the special mother-child bond. The first six months are especially needed to reduce the stress on mothers, which is felt by the baby. Taking this time, knowing that their jobs will be there for them, without any kind of retaliation by employers, reduce a mother’s stress and allows her to focus on the family.

  2. The USA must be the worst country in the developed world for Maternity leave & the treatment of pregnant woman. Only 12 WEEKS of UNPAID leave to SOME workers WTF! Many other countries provide women with 12 weeks of PAID maternity leave & job security for 12 months so they can care for their baby. Shocking that the US is lagging so far behind. And now they want to cut abortion, how are women & their babies meant to get by, this is so backwards!

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