Mothers have long been considered one of the most integral cornerstones of any given society. The way mothers raise their children directly affects the people those children will become and that affects the world around them. So one might think the government has made an effort to create laws that make life easier for mothers, to help them thrive and flourish so the children they raise might thrive and flourish. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
In the United States, mothers appear to have been left in the dust when it comes to federal policy for decades. Despite the fact that there are more working mothers than ever, there remains a shocking void when it comes to issues like maternity leave benefits and child care policy. Not to mention the fact that the maternal mortality rate has actually risen in the U.S. in recent years, according The New York Times, which is unconscionable for a developed country with considerable financial resources.
As for health care and reproductive rights: if Senate Republicans manage to pass the proposed Better Care Reconciliation Act into law, mothers (especially low-income mothers) could find themselves struggling. The BCRA would effectively defund Planned Parenthood, and offer states the option to redefine the meaning of essential benefits, according to Time. Under the Affordable Care Act, maternity costs, birth control, and mental health care are all covered under essential benefits.
Now that's not to say that there aren't some incredibly helpful laws throughout the country that help make mothers' lives easier.
ACA Preventative Services
When the Affordable Care Act came into effect in 2014, it offered a whole host of new services to mothers, including preventative care services. Mothers suddenly had access to screening tests for things like anemia and gestational diabetes, lactation support, breast pumps and breastfeeding counseling, well-baby and postnatal check-ups and more.
Break Time For Working Mothers
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) enacted a "break time for working mothers,' in 2010. According to the Women's Health website, this federal law forces employers to allow new mothers:
Reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for 1 year after the child's birth each time such employee has need to express the milk.
This same law also requires employers to offer women access to a clean space other than a washroom in which to express breast milk. A space that affords some privacy from co-workers. All employees who are eligible for overtime are also eligible for this breastfeeding break time.
Paid Maternity Leave
The federal government has yet to budge on the concept of paid maternity leave, but three states have taken it upon themselves to offer this important law to mothers. California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island all offer paid family leave, with New York set to join them in January 2018. California offers up to six weeks of partial pay, New Jersey's paid leave law allows eligible people to take up to six weeks of paid family leave, and Rhode Island offers a maximum of four paid weeks of leave for those who qualify. Washington did pass a law that would allow for paid family leave in 2007, but it was never fully enacted and has now been postponed indefinitely, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Connecticut offers a child care subsidy to low- and moderate-income families to help offset child care costs. The Care4Kids program helps to pay for any care in a facility that has been approved and licensed through the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood.
The abysmal state of helpful legislation for mothers at both the federal and state level is appalling. Motherhood is a difficult time for everyone, and raising well-adjusted kids benefits literally everyone.
It seems like simple math, perhaps it's time to figure it out.