Moms Respond to Obama's Call for Paid Maternity Leave - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather and Events

Moms Respond to Obama's Call for Paid Maternity Leave

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In his latest weekly address, President Obama called for the United States to offer paid maternity leave. Moms agree it should be a priority, but it leaves the question of who pays.

"There was no maternity leave offered and in the (home care) field I'm in, they wouldn't hold my job either," said Sepia Stewart, an Erie mom. 

"Six weeks without a paycheck is a long time when you have bills," said Lauren Ruggerio, a Jamestown, NY resident here in Erie to shop at Babies R' Us. 

The lack of paid maternity leave leaves to millions of Americans struggling to care for their newborns while juggling careers.
"I had to quit my job, after that I had my children, then went back to the work field," Stewart said. It was a process she was forced to repeat when she had another child. 

"You are conflicted, especially if there's a financial burden. If  that's a hardship, to lose a salary for some period of time, it is a huge sacrifice, said Stephanie Lindenberger of the Women's Care Center in Erie. One of the center's objectives is to help foster healthy relationships between parents and their babies, especially during an unplanned pregnancy.

The Family Medical Act of 1993 mandates US employers to give women 12 weeks of unpaid maternity leave, but some can't afford to take the time off. And companies with fewer than 50 employees are exempt.

Now, President Obama is calling for paid maternity leave.

"Only three countries in the world report that they don’t offer paid maternity leave. Three. And the United States is one of them. It's time to change that," he said in his June 21st weekly address. "Workers can’t afford to be there when their family needs them the most. That’s wrong," Obama said.

However, the Women's Care Center says they also see the situation from an employer's standpoint.

"The burden of paying that benefit - I mean, it is a benefit," Linderberger said. "Some employers choose to have a paid maternity leave for their employees. I think that's admirable and I encourage it. But sometimes it's not possible," she said.

Obama calls it a "basic need."

"Family leave, childcare, flexibility. These aren't frills, they're basic needs. They shouldn't be bonuses, they should be the bottom line," he said.

But so far, the president hasn't backed any national legislation  supporting paid maternity leave.

Moms across America, doing what they can to make it work.

"You want to bond with your baby. I mean, they grow up so fast. You'll miss their first tooth, first walk. So it's kind of hard," Stewart said.


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