It is time to put our pro-life and pro-family beliefs to action by supporting the “Economic Security for New Parents Act” just introduced by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo.).
This plan gives parents the option of funding paid leave after the birth or adoption of a baby by drawing on their own social security funds. They would then postpone their retirement by just a few months, at no added cost to the government or taxpayers. Any suggestion that this would drain social security is mistaken since it creates no additional costs to the program.
The pro-life community should embrace this as an opportunity to support both the baby and the mother who has chosen life. With almost half of women who have had an abortion living below the poverty line, it is no surprise that most claim they did so because they could not afford a baby. Paid family leave could give them a much-needed lifeline.
The global economy and the decline of family-wage jobs has ravaged communities and families across the country, especially in blue-collar states. In order to make ends meet, both parents work in 62 percent of homesheaded by married couples that have children. In homes with children with under 18, mothers are now the sole or primary breadwinners 40 percent of the time. Since only 13 percent of workers have access to paid leave through their employer, a new baby can be a financial catastrophe.
This plan gives us the opportunity to create an environment where new parents can cherish their baby and bond as a family during those precious early weeks. Numerous studies show that paid leave provides enormous benefits for the baby as well as the mother and father. If we believe strong families are the key to healthy communities, then supporting this plan is an easy way to offer much needed support.
Without passing a paid leave bill, a quarter of new mothers will continue to go back to work within two weeks of having their baby. Some are pushed into public assistance in order to stay home longer, which could lead to worse outcomes for both the mother and her child. The National Institute of Health reports that mothers who take twelve weeks of leave are better off physically and mentally and are less likely to experience depression.
Unfortunately, most fathers hardly take any leave at all. Encouraging researchshows that when fathers are with their baby during and after labor, hormones are produced (similar to the mothers) that helps to produce strong lifetime bonds with their baby. Studies confirm that when fathers take leave, they are more likely to be involved in critical child rearing activities.
This certainly benefits the child and the entire family. With each family being unique, this plan also allows parents to transfer paid leave time between each other to better meet the needs of their family.
It is remarkable that the U.S. is the only industrialized nation in the world without a national paid leave policy. With six states having passed their own plans in recent years, momentum for a national plan is growing.
Polls show that 83 percent of Democrats and 71 percent of Republicans support paid leave for both parents, indicating broad bipartisan support.
With the White House behind paid family leave and Republicans controlling both houses of Congress, now is the time to support a plan that fits our values.
Nadine Maenza is the executive director of Patriot Voices, which is an organization that fights for faith, family and freedom in America. It was founded by Rick and Karen Santorum in 2012.