Is the U.S. "Family-Hostile"?

By Shira Scott,

I still remember the heartache I felt returning to work just 8 weeks after the birth of my first child. And I was one of the lucky ones. I could piece together vacation days, unused sick days and disability insurance to get about two months at home with at least some pay.

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It looks like more than two decades later things aren't much better for new moms in the United States. The group Human Rights Watch just released a report ranking the parental leave policies of 190 countries. Only three countries offer no legal guarantee of paid maternity leave and the United States is one of them. The other two, Papua New Guinea and Switzerland. More than 50 countries also have paid paternity leave (again, not the U.S.)

The report also says the U.S. is decades behind not only when it comes to parental leave, but also in making accomodations for breastfeeding mothers.

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About half of Americans are covered by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act and can take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave to stay home with a newborn child. That is if they can afford to do so. Two states, California and New Jersey, have paid family leave insurance programs.

Do you think America has "the most family-hostile public policy"? Where do you stand on the issue of paid parental leave?

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