Pregnancy Leave

On Wednesday S left at lunch to come home and rest, which she could have taken as either sick time or vacation time (she opted for vacation). On Monday she’ll be leaving early for an ultrasound, which will count as sick time. S did a little research and found that it is legally possible to get paid time off for pregnancy related complications, but it counts as going out on disability. This seems ridiculous to me. She’s neither sick, nor on vacation, and she’s certainly not disabled; she’s pregnant. We’ve talked to pregnant friends and friends with children and have found that S’s pregnancy exhaustion is common. Many women balance work and other commitments during this difficult time period. But I wonder: why should they have to?

Ideally, women have equal protection and treatment under the law – not always the reality, I know. Yet a pregnant woman is biologically different from a non-pregnant woman, and sometimes has severe draws on her body (from the fetus) and time (from the doctor appointments). It is socially responsible for an employer, with the government’s assistance, to protect the pregnancy by providing the pregnant woman time off to care for herself. Time off that does not penalize her by forcing her to dip into her sick and vacation reserves, or that stigmatizes her by branding her “disabled.” Additional time off should be offered to the woman’s partner as well, since he or she also has to make time for appointments and to provide support and care.

I know that this adds yet another economic disincentive to an employer to hire a woman (dealing with maternity leave is disincentive enough). But that’s the problem with a capitalist ideology: everything boils down to money. We should value the health and safety of female citizens, and their developing embryos and fetuses, by providing pregnancy assistance to them when they need it.

To see how weak the United States parental leave benefits measure up compared to other countries around the world, visit Wikipedia’s Parental Leave page.


1 Response to “Pregnancy Leave”

  1. 1 MePregnant Trackback on October 17, 2008 at 12:20 pm

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