‘Pro-life’ groups still silent on protecting pregnant workers

A few weeks ago we looked at the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (HR 5647), a promising and necessary piece of legislation currently stalled in Congress.

You can download a fact sheet on the bill from the National Women’s Law Center, which explains that the PWFA would “let pregnant women continue to do their jobs and support their families by requiring employers to make the same sorts of accommodations for pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions that they do for disabilities.”

If you’re a disabled worker, then you’re protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act. If you’re a pregnant worker and not hindered in job performance, or if you’re pregnant and completely unable to work, then you’re protected under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. But if you’re a pregnant worker and able to perform some, but not all, of the functions of your job, then you slip through the cracks and you’re SOL. That means that some pregnant women may be forced to choose between keeping their job and keeping their pregnancy.

Now, since the “pro-life” and “pro-family” movements of the religious right are all about preventing pregnant women from choosing not to keep their pregnancies, this would seem like legislation they ought to be supporting.

And yet, as I noted last month, I haven’t yet seen any support for this, or even any mention of it, among such groups. The PWFA would help to remove one powerful economic incentive for abortion — a real situation that real people face. Anti-abortion groups therefore ought to support it. But if any of them are supporting it, they’re doing so very, very quietly.

Maybe I’d just missed their statements backing this bill? To double-check, I asked the folks at NWLC if they had heard of any support for this workplace protection from anti-abortion groups. Liz Watson, a senior advisor at NWLC, responded:

Supporting pregnant workers so that they can continue their jobs and have healthy pregnancies, is something people of all political stripes should agree on, regardless of their stance on other issues, including abortion. As yet, we are not aware of any support from pro-life groups, however.

One possibility is that these groups are simply not yet aware of this legislation. In that case, one hopes, they will learn of it soon and bring their powerful political muscle to bear in rallying congressional support so that pregnant workers “can continue their jobs and have healthy pregnancies.”

There are other possibilities, but I’ll avoid outlining them here, as the implications from those other possibilities all tend to make these groups look pretty bad — to make them look, in fact, like duplicitous agencies whose alleged concern for “the unborn” will always take a back seat to their paramount concern with controlling uppity women.

  • Thecuriouscottage

    Your youth and inexperience betray you. As I suspected, you don’t have enough knowledge of what is already available to be shilling for legislation of any kind. Most teenagers could be a lot of things, but they too don’t realize what is available to them. We can talk about what’s available and how to get it, but you don’t seem to really want to know.

  • Thecuriouscottage

    You don’t have to go into debt to go to college. Where are you going? Harvard? Like I said, I have 2 kids that will graduate in December with degrees and no debt. Would you like to know how? And since taking from other people who have saved their money is the plan instead of saving and giving yourself, why wait for a silly law? Why not just steal it if taking from someone else is the right thing anyway? Is it the right thing? Is it part of your moral code to take from others and give to others who didn’t prepare? Because the people who didn’t prepare couldn’t help it, right? We can’t ask people who make $13 an hour to help a friend, when there are richer people somewhere else who can spare the money, right? Taking from other people to give to someone else is not part of my moral code. You can ‘legalize’ anything, but that doesn’t make it right. You are right there near your friend. You are single, I assume and not taking care of children. $13 an hour is more than I’ve ever made and I’m offering to help your coworker find help. I will not lobby government to provide these things.

  • Tonio

    We should add that the companies that offer such leave also benefit – better employee morale, increased long-term productivity, improved retention and so fourth. To describe a requirement for paid parental leave as taking money from others is not only mean-spirited but inaccurate, as if only the parents who would use it would experience any benefit. 

  • Thecuriouscottage

    Ah, but see too, this will make it more difficult for young people of child-bearing age to get work, because companies aren’t going to want to hire them, especially small ones, if they can see an automatic $8000 loss per child. It’s not mean-spirited at all to call it what it is. You are forcing a company to make these kinds of decicisions. Imagine, in the case that I am piecing together from what Ellie is saying: You own a beauty salon. You rent the facility and hire beauticians to have a chair in your shop. You have to save money just like everyone else does, but, surprise! 3 of your girls get pregnant and are due within a month of each other. Where does that $24,000 come from? No, sir. This law will  make it that much harder for a young woman go get a job. The reasoning  behind this legislation is unraveling and cause for it stalling in congress is becoming clear. Think of the laws that would have to be put into place make sure there is no descrimination, and the lawsuits…what a burden. This does not help women. It will ultimately hurt them. Again, there is local help available, but no one seems to want to look for any of that. The benefits you cite sound great, but it doesn’t actually work that way. I know. Even at half pay with short-term disability and being able to keep healthcare benefits at the company I work for, do you know how many mothers actually come back to work after having a baby? They come back at the end of the limited time off for short-term, which is a year, and work a week, which is required, and quit. And I’m not exaggerating. We’ve had 2 do this and one…well, we will wait and see. Your thinking changes dramatically when you are home with that baby.

  • Thecuriouscottage

    I just thought of something else! Why not have the employer with every new hire set up their medical savings account and some will be taken out of every paycheck to accumulate to 2 months pay at the end of nine months? After that, the employee can decide how much to contribute. The money can be used for whatever services the employee wishes, because the account belongs to the employee. That would solve all of these problems where my morality and your morality don’t meet. Health savings accounts are already available. If women’s health services in whatever form you want to have them are not eligible for use of that money, that’s where you need to be lobbying congress. Take away this legislation that even your guys in congress can’t get a hearing and put something out there that everyone can get behind. Congress may not even need to get involved in that. It will require more research.

  • Tonio

    this will make it more difficult for young people of child-bearing age to get work, because companies aren’t going to want to hire them, especially small ones, if they can see an automatic $8000 loss per child.

    The same facile argument could be made about any other type of employer-provided benefit. Any benefit that an employer provides, whether it’s parental leave or health insurance or college tuition, is an investment that pays for itself in tangible and intangible ways.

    This law will make it that much harder for a young woman go get a job.

    You do realize that new fathers use parental leave as well? As I read your post, I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, which would be some version of “mothers should be at home instead of working.”

  • Tonio

    Putting aside any merits or flaws in your proposal, I’ll ask a dumb question – what moral conflict would this resolve? 

  • Thecuriouscottage

    I already said this: “Ah, but see too, this will make it more difficult for young people of child-bearing age to get work, because companies aren’t going to want to hire them, especially small ones, if they can see an automatic $8000 loss per child. It’s not mean-spirited at all to call it what it is..”

    You must not have noticed it because you were just waiting for me to fulfill whatever preconceived notions you had about what I believe. We have a young father at in our department who saved all of his vacation to be home with his wife when she had their first child. My own husband stays home with our kids while I work. What you were waiting for was for me to reveal your own prejudices toward me. Well, you revealed them yourself.  

  • Thecuriouscottage

    Let’s say that I am a faith-based ministry and I have 10 employees. The government has now passed a healthcare mandate that requires that I pay into a fund that will provide abortions for unwanted pregnancies and I am required to pay for health care coverage that provides contraception, like birth control pills, that are abortifacent, meaning that a fertilized egg will be destroyed or unable to implant and this causes a moral conflict. Also, there is legislation in congress that is getting ready to tell me that I also have to provide $8000 per employee for 2 months paid maternity leave, should anyone decide to have a baby, adopt a baby or whatever else constitutes family or parental leave covered by this legislation. I am proposing that the health care accounts we already use be modified to cover this issue. If money comes out of your own paycheck to fund a health care account, why can’t that money be used for contraception services and family medical leave? If the laws don’t allow it to be used for that, then they can change existing law to accomodate this. As the owner of a faith-based ministry, I have no problem with you saving your money in a healthcare account to cover these expenses. This solution would not infringe on my morality if an employees morality tells them it’s ok to use birth control pills. It would not infringe on my morality if that money was used to obtain comprehensive sex-education for the employee. It would not infringe on my morality and take money from other people to pay for leave. It would allow the employee to save for their own leave. There’s no moral conflict with the employee saving and preparing for their own needs.

  • Tonio

    You claimed that the law would make it harder for young mothers to get jobs, without mentioning young fathers. You also claimed that the mothers who come back to work generally quit, citing only your own workplace’s experience. I’ve encountered far too many people who use such claims as jumping-off points to push “traditional” gender roles, meaning women in the nursery and kitchen. Such people usually grouse that women are  too much bother in the workplace because they inconvenience the men by getting pregnant. I wasn’t accusing you of that mindset, just observing that my suspicions were raised.

  • Tonio

    To my knowledge, no one is proposing a health care mandate to cover abortions, so there’s no reason for you to use that as an example. And it cannot be emphasized enough that birth control pills are not abortifacients. They prevent fertilization, not implantation.

  • Thecuriouscottage

    What if it only prevented implantation sometimes? The purpose is to prevent fertilization, but what if there was a risk it would allow the fertilization and not the implantation? The information about what the pill does is easy to find. So, you don’t have to agree with me that the risk of it being an abortifacient is great enough to not support it as a birth control method. You may think the risk is small and not worth haggling. We disagree on the morality issue again, and that is fine. The healthcare mandate that passed and went into effect on August 1st does in fact compel abortion funding. That mandate is already here and done. If you wonder about it, just search under healthcare mandate and abortion funding.

  • Thecuriouscottage
  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

     And to my knowledge, this law does not cover ministries, churches, synagogues, or temples. Unless “ministry” has some other definition…

  • Thecuriouscottage

    I would like to stay around and talk about this more, but I’m going to have to let all the many words I’ve already said just stand the way they are. I’m out of time on this one. Bye, guys. :)

  • Lunch Meat

    what if there was a risk it
    would allow the fertilization and not the implantation? The information
    about what the pill does is easy to find. … The healthcare mandate that passed and went into
    effect on August 1st does in fact compel abortion funding. That mandate
    is already here and done. If you wonder about it, just search under
    healthcare mandate and abortion funding.

    I don’t know where you’re getting your information, but you are incorrect. I have read the FDA report on birth control. There is absolutely no evidence that it can interfere with implantation. I have also read the Dept. of Health and Human Services’ information on the Affordable Care Act. It does not mandate funding for abortion. This is information from non-partisan sites. I urge you to go read them, not just the first result you get from google.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Is what’s already available guaranteed to be enough for every pregnant woman everywhere in the country to be able to afford to take care of herself, the baby, and any other dependents, without any of them being harassed about their religious beliefs as a condition of getting the help?

    Didn’t think so.

  • EllieMurasaki

    The healthcare mandate that passed and went into effect on August 1st does in fact compel abortion funding.

    [citation needed]

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

     One of the greatest difficulties in discussing this stopic is when you run across someone who just flat-out doesn’t know anything about contraception. Not in the political sense, but they just don’t know how it works on a biological/medical level. Some of them can’t distinguish between the contraception and abortifacient drugs; others, like Rush Limbaugh, seem to think that the pill has to be taken before each sexual encounter, so people who have sex more often must take the pill more frequently. 

    When someone’s understanding of the general concepts like that is that low, their actual political opinions are hard to engage with. I mean, that’s like discussing NASA funding with someone who thinks that Mars is a Latin-American country, or discussing the war on terrorism who thinks that the 9/11 attacks were conducted by Hindu extremists operating out of Nepal. How do you even begin to have a discussion with that kind of person?

  • EllieMurasaki

    I have 2 kids that will graduate in December with degrees and no debt. Would you like to know how?

    Is it something that everyone who goes to college can take advantage of, or does it rely on stacking up $250 scholarships from groups that can’t afford to give more than one $250 scholarship per group per year? Given the way the numbers keep coming out on my and my brother’s and sister’s FAFSA forms, the first answer is ‘no’ and even if the second is ‘yes’ it’s ‘no’, because FAFSA has the impression that all three of us were saving for college and nothing else, that our various incomes are for college and nothing else, that the sum of our parents’ rainy-day fund and our parents’ retirement fund is entirely available for my college, that that sum is entirely available for my brother’s college, that that sum is entirely available for my sister’s college, and that we don’t have little sisters who ought to have a share of the money my parents have saved for their kids’ college. And none of us have yet encountered a college where the financial aid package from the college stays the same regardless of the presence of outside scholarships–those $250 scholarships, and all three of us did get a stack of them, invariably drop the amount of our tuition that the college pays by $200 to $250 apiece, rather than going towards the part of our tuition that we’re expected to pay or towards textbooks or room and board or any other expenses. Therefore, student loans.

    We can’t ask people who make $13 an hour to help a friend, when there are richer people somewhere else who can spare the money, right?

    Of course we can ask people who make $13 an hour to help a friend. What we can’t do is ask people who make $13 an hour to be the only ones helping. We earn shit at my job. Seventy percent of the country’s breadwinners make better money than we do. And because we’re bottom of the totem pole, not only are things more expensive (ever owned a clunker? ever noticed how you end up paying more than you would if you’d bought a better car, because the clunker breaks down more often, but you can never scrape together enough money every month to pay the higher car payment for the better car?) but we have less money to begin with, making it a great deal harder to save for a rainy day.

    Taking from other people to give to someone else is not part of my moral code.

    So you’re not planning on voting for Mitt Romney, because most of his fortune came from Bain Capital and tax evasion, that is, stealing from the employees and previous owners of every company Bain took over and stealing from the federal government. Good to know.

    Not clear on how paid parental leave is taking from anybody, anyway. If my coworker hadn’t had the baby, she’d have got a paycheck this past Friday same as me. That’s money that our employer expected to be paying her, and I see no reason why it shouldn’t be money our employer did pay her.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    How do you even begin to have a discussion with that kind of person? 

    I generally start out by asking them what they believe, and why they believe it, and why it’s important. When I believe something different and I agree that it’s important, I then share my beliefs on the subject and why I believe them.

    How they respond to that shapes the rest of the conversation.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

     It’s not clear to me that it’d be particular right to require companies to gve workers paid parental leave. I mean, work’s still got to get done, the business is down a person, has to find and train a replacement for a temporary position, plus they have to keep paing for the employee who isn’t in a position to work? I think guaranteeing them that their job will still be there for them when they choose to return is enough. It’s not clear at all to me that the company is the ones who benefit from parents  taking parental leave.

    But it’s absolutely clear to me that *society* benefits. So it should be the *government* that pays  the salary of the parents during parental leave.

  • CharityB

    True, but the underlying problem might not come out. I mean, if someone genuinely doesn’t know how the birth control pill works, but thinks that they do, they might not even realize that they have this misapprehension. It might not even come up when asked since they don’t realize that there’s this huge gap in their understanding.

    I just remember being bewildered by Rush Limbaugh’s “slut” comment because it sounded as if he thought that the pill was similar to Viagra, and I wondered how many people out there (on both sides of the issue) really don’t understand how the pill works. I had before assumed it was common knowledge and not worth bringing up, and it occurred to me that Limbaugh and people like him might think that their misapprehension was common knowledge, and not bring it up as a “belief” when asked.

  • http://dpolicar.livejournal.com/ Dave

     

    True, but the underlying problem might not come out.

    Well, I certainly agree that asking people to explain what they believe, why, and why it matters doesn’t guarantee that I’ll discover what they believe, or find the flaws in it.

    OTOH, I’ve yet to find a technique I consider more reliable.

  • AnonymousSam

    The healthcare mandate that passed and went into effect on August 1st does in fact compel abortion funding.

    Our host felt the need to respond to this directly in a more recent post here.

  • http://blog.trenchcoatsoft.com Ross

    You know, I never really thought that Rush actually thought that the pill worked that way. I just figured he said it because insulting a woman for cheap laughs is his thing, and it’;s not like he believes most of the stuff he says anyway. It’s one of those “truthy” statements that conservative blowhards make because he coul;dn’t just say “Women aren’t really people, just a person-like object for the use of men.” 

  • Tonio

    Cottage’s idea of medical spending accounts for abortion and contraception is bothersome, because the real goal seems to be protecting the alleged moral purity of the employers. 

  • Lunch Meat

    Not to mention that HSAs have fees attached and an insurance policy is often required along with it, and we already know how much trouble people have being insured. Even my high-deductible policy costs $290/month, and that’s just for one person; my husband is not included. This is not the sort of thing that employers will just be jumping at the chance to provide. In fact, it’s the same kind of benefit that they just had to be forced to provide through legislation.

  • LouisDoench

    Wow, I just got to say that y’all were remarkably nice to that lady.  She was arguing in incredibly bad faith. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    That’s likely why Limbaugh chose to say that. I did talk to a few people who seemed to think that too, and they definitely weren’t of the same mindset as he did. I think that there are probably at least a few people who think that you can take the pill if you’re planning on having sex that day, and you don’t if you’re not. I can imagine having that belief without being a misogynist or a troll because that’s how a lot of people treat medicine (“If I feel like I need it today, then I’ll take it, and if I don’t feel like I need it, then I won’t”).

    OTOH, I’ve yet to find a technique I consider more reliable.

    Your technique sounds pretty good to me. It’s just that I can’t think of a way to get past Donald Rumsfeld’s, “unknown unknowns” thing — when you don’t even realize that you don’t know about something. Even someone arguing in absolute good faith can run into that.

  • EllieMurasaki

    It’s not clear to me that it’d be particular right to require companies to gve workers paid parental leave. [...] But it’s absolutely clear to me that *society* benefits. So it should be the *government* that pays  the salary of the parents during parental leave.

    Okay, fair enough, I can get behind that. Think that would get Curious Cottage to support it, though? Because the question this whole thread has been, why do Curious Cottage and other pro-life advocates make a point of refusing to support measures that not only help pregnant women, infants, new parents, and society but also reduce the number of abortions? What is more important to Curious Cottage and other pro-life advocates than reducing the number of abortions?

    Though I do suspect that the answer to that last is somewhere on this list: Governmental measures that help people deny Curious Cottage the ability to personally help people and thereby prove that she is a generous angel. Governmental measures that help people deny Curious Cottage the ability to attempt to convert everyone who needs help. Governmental measures that help people deny Curious Cottage the ability to condescend to people who need help and who are in a situation that can be construed (regardless of the actuality) as their own fault. Any measure that makes pregnancy or childrearing less onerous also makes it less of a punishment for the slut. Any measure that was proposed by someone who isn’t Us is Inherently Evil, even if it’s something that We advocated before They decided it was a good idea, and even if it does advance Our goals as well as or instead of Theirs.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

     

    I can imagine having that belief without being a misogynist or a troll
    because that’s how a lot of people treat medicine (“If I feel like I
    need it today, then I’ll take it, and if I don’t feel like I need it,
    then I won’t”).

    That’s really frightening.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    Yeah, (lack of) adherence to medication is a really serious problem in health care; some papers say that between to 50% to 70% of patients don’t take their medicine as prescribed. Some patients don’t realize that skipping doses of certain (daily) medicines because they happen to feel good that particular day actually makes the medicine less effective and contributes to higher costs due to more complications and adverse effects over time. If people treat potentially life-saving medications that they themselves consume that way, it’s not all that hard to believe that they might treat medications that other people use and that they aren’t personally familiar with the same way. (“Sure, you can save money on birth control by having sex less often!”)


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