In today's case for Just Giving Us the Damn Birth Control: new babies are more costly than you might have dreamed, even when it's not you who's giving birth.
A depressing piece in The Nation highlights the staggering financial impact of reproducing — not just to individual families, but at a huge cost to the federal government and ultimately, you, the reluctant taxpayer.
Bryce Covert points out that current federal labor laws force women to make "impossible choices," between their own health, their children's health, and their jobs. The failure of insurance to cover costs is an issue, certainly, but the biggest problem seems to be a dearth of family leave offered by employers. She also relates a frightening trend: as the nation's moms get poorer, fewer employers are offering paid leave. Employers aren't bound to compensate for time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act, and many don't — last year's census found that 40% of mothers who took leave were unpaid.
Even in circumstances where paid leave is available (like in California, or you know, Europe), having a baby still creates "maternal debt." First, if you're lucky enough to have insurance, there's no certainty that you'll be covered for any unseen medical costs, like those incurred from a complicated pregnancy. Second, leave is finite — if you need more than they're giving, you're SOL. Essentially, having a child is on par with having a very fancy and expensive illness.
It's getting difficult for law makers to say "Don't have a baby if you can't afford it," because such a significant portion of all women who take leave are now ending up in debt. It's gotten to the point where both the Department of Labor is being forced to investigate the economic impact of the current near-impossibility of having a job AND a kid.
Help may be on the way in the form of state legislation that increases paid leave, but it's a ways off. The National Partnership for Women and Familes told Covert that "This isn't something that we're under any illusion we're going to pass tomorrow or next year."
Well, good thing we still have our access to affordable family planning.
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