Family and Medical Leave Act a Step Toward Reproductive Justice, But Still Leaves Many Behind

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Written by Elizabeth Chen for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.

This article was cross-posted with permission from the Center for American Progress.

The Family and Medical Leave Act was signed into law 20 years ago today and was a great first step toward supporting workers and workplace fairness. The law ensures that employees can receive 12 weeks of unpaid job-protected leave to recover from a serious medical condition, provide care for a seriously ill family member, or care for a new child. Workplace leave, however, is not just an employment issue — it is also a matter of reproductive justice.

Reproductive justice stands at the intersection of traditional reproductive rights concerns, such as the decision whether to become a parent, and social justice issues. In addition, it centers on the reproductive health needs of the most marginalized populations, including women of color, low-income individuals, and individuals with disabilities, among others. In our 2006 report, "More than a Choice: A Progressive Vision for Reproductive Health and Rights," we set forth four cornerstones essential to a progressive reproductive health, rights, and justice agenda, including policies that support the ability to become a parent and to parent with dignity — meaning being able to financially, emotionally, and physically support a child’s basic needs — and the ability to have healthy and safe families and relationships.

Workplace leave is crucial for all people, but especially for low-income individuals seeking to become parents and have healthy families — a right to which we are all entitled. Historically, though, some parenting has been privileged at the expense of others, and not everyone has been able to exercise this right.

Read the rest here.

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