2, Blog Post

Is maternity leave important to women? (Duh.)

PregnantQuestions during the June 2 hearing on the Down Syndrome abortion ban (HB 135) got interesting. NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Deputy Director Jaime Miracle got a pair of questions far more telling about the understanding of how economic policies supported by the Republican majority of the legislature affects abortion rates in ways they don’t understand. Watch the exchange from 2:35 to 4:50 in the video below:

Full committee video available from Marc Kovac at http://blogs.dixcdn.com/capitalblog/down-syndrome-and-abortion/

Rep. Bill Hayes (R-Harrison Township) questions why the witness included maternity leave in her list of factors women might worry about when making a decision on whether or not to terminate a pregnancy. Asking “what is the child’s role in this?” Rep. Hayes seemed bewildered that a working woman facing giving birth to a child with developmental disabilities might need time off to provide care. Because most employers in Ohio do not offer paid maternity leave, many women are forced to make difficult decisions during every pregnancy. Having a child that needs extra care, possibly critical medical attention, places an extra burden on a family. Most families cannot afford to have one wage-earner take unpaid leave for any reason (especially if she’s the sole provider).

Rep. Tim Ginter (R-Salem) followed up with a nearly identical line of attack, asking if NARAL approved of a woman factoring in paid sick leave in her decision to keep a pregnancy or have an abortion. Ms. Miracle answered this and other questions by re-stating that the decision is up to the woman. Whatever her reasons, the decision is personal and should be made without judgment from politicians.

For parents, having paid sick leave is frequently what keeps them employed. You cannot be both a parent and an employee if you cannot take time when your child is vomiting or spiking a fever or having an asthma attack. This bill targets women choosing an abortion following a prenatal diagnosis of a medical complication, specifically Down Syndrome. Every working woman affected by this bill needs paid sick leave. 

In addition to the immediate impact that paid maternity leave and paid sick leave have on parents, many, many other factors are part of a woman’s decision to raise a family or have an abortion.

  • Income is a primary factor, Republican efforts to block increasing the minimum wage make it financially impossible for many women to bring another child into their family.
  • Access to affordable health care is key. Republican refusal to fully implement Obamacare and efforts to stop Medicaid expansion will both lead to increased rates of abortions.
  • Access to comprehensive sex education and affordable contraception is a proven tool to lower abortion rates. Republican politicians (and a few jerk Democrats!) have blocked schools from offering an age-appropriate curriculum.
  • Affordable housing, public transportation, and food stamps all make it easier for women to raise families while working.

The one policy that Republicans look to as a way to stop abortions doesn’t work: banning them. Legal abortions are safe abortions. Illegal abortions are just as frequent, but unsafe for women.

If the Republican Party wants a “pro-life” agenda, it’s going to need to overhaul it’s whole economic platform.


Help build a pro-choice Ohio. Every day, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio fights to protect access to the full range of reproductive health care options—including preventing unintended pregnancy, bearing healthy children, and legal abortion care. We educate the public about the real threat to women’s healthcare posed by anti-choice legislation and policies. We mobilize pro-choice Ohioans to take political action to defend reproductive rights. And we are the voice for Ohio’s abortion clinics, helping them navigate the increasingly hostile climate created by extremist groups. But we need your help. As a member organization, we rely on your financial support to fund our important legislative, educational, and grassroots activities.

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