Believe it or not, the United States is only one of THREE countries in the world that does NOT require “paid maternity leave” of any form for new mothers. Specifically, the U.S., Oman, and Papua New Guinea are the ONLY three countries that do not require that new mothers be paid cash benefits during their maternity absences.
The above facts were released by a United Nations Study. It was published by the International Labour Organization, an agency of the United Nations. The study surveyed the national laws and practices on maternity and paternity in 185 countries and territories.
Businesses in the U.S. are required to allow new mothers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave. But, only five states require paid leave: Rhode Island, New York, Hawaii, California, and New Jersey. According to the U.N. report, this means that only about 12% of U.S. women are financially entitled to paid maternity leave.
This could be devastating for the many single mothers that are giving birth today. Recently, Susan Highsmith, Ph.D., and her husband, Charles, sent us a quote from an editorial comment in the May 18, 2014, edition of the Arizona Star Newspaper that was written by George F. Will. According to the editorial, titled “George Will: From LBJ We Learned the Limits of Government,” “out-of-wedlock” births have dramatically increased from 7.7% in 1965 to 40% in 2012. This translates into approximately 1,600,000 babies that are raised by single moms per year (40% of 4 million babies born per year).
Now, let’s assume that only 12% of these 1.6 million babies were born in the five states that require paid maternity leave. That would leave approximately 1,400,000 new born babies and their new moms that are not financially supported by paid maternity leave during the first few months of life when their moms take maternity leave from work. Of course, some of the single moms of today are financially secure and have chosen to be single moms; therefore, they may not need the paid maternity leave. However, this could be devastating for many of the new families, and especially for the new moms that are carrying responsibility for both of the caretaking and financial loads.
Susan Highsmith, Ph.D., a member of the Loving Birth Committee of The Foundation for Living Medicine, shares her concern about these trends and their implication of a deterioration of the American family. “Babies and their moms– need support. The literature is extensive on the value of support throughout pregnancy, labor, birthing, and beyond,” says Highsmith.
Please share with us your reactions to these statistics.