Our Common Good

Thirty-four years ago this week, Congress enacted the Pregnancy Discrimination Act  (PDA) to remedy a long history of discrimination against pregnant workers and promote equal opportunity.  The PDA opened workplace doors, making clear that employers could not fire, fail to hire or otherwise penalize pregnant women just for being pregnant.  The law also requires employers to treat pregnant workers as well as other employees “similar in their ability or inability to work.”

Unfortunately, the PDA’s protections have proven limited.  All too often, pregnant workers, especially women in low-wage and physically demanding jobs, are pushed out of their jobs and denied minor modifications to workplace duties, rules, or policies that would enable them to continue working and providing for their families.  For example, a retail worker in Salina, Kansas was fired because she needed to drink water on the job to stay hydrated and prevent bladder infections.  An activity director at a nursing home in Valparaiso, Indiana was terminated because she required help with a few physically strenuous aspects of her job to prevent having another miscarriage.  In Landover, Maryland, a delivery truck driver with a lifting restriction was forced out onto unpaid leave after being denied light duty, even though such positions were available for other non-pregnant workers—her case is currently being heard in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Is this legal?  In those instances, courts found that it was.  Courts have interpreted existing legal protections narrowly, ruling that employers are not obligated to accommodate pregnant workers unless they can point to a similarly situated non-pregnant employee who was treated more favorably.  Unfortunately, most pregnant workers have limited knowledge of their employer’s business practices, especially in other offices and locations, and cannot meet this burden.

In addition, because pregnancy is not a “per se” disability pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), courts have found that pregnant workers are not entitled to accommodations that are readily available to workers with disabilities.  Although the 2008 Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act (ADAAA) now obligates employers to accommodate a broader range of temporary disabilities, pregnant workers still must prove they have a pregnancy-related disability to qualify for coverage; healthy pregnancies are left out.

[Judge Saundra Brown] Armstrong noted that First Resort “ignored” provisions that state the purpose of the ordinance is to prevent false and misleading advertising regarding services and counseling provided or not provided and that any center cited under the ordinance would get a chance to cure the “false, misleading or deceptive advertising.”

The judge ruled that a “person of common intelligence could discern that the conduct proscribed by the ordinance is false and misleading advertising, and not simply any statement made by the limited services pregnancy center.”


It was sickening. That’s the best way to describe how I felt about Akin’s comments. I was sick to my stomach. I am still sick to my stomach. But what makes it worse is that no one seems to have any regard for how these comments are actually impacting people who have already been victimized by rape. These comments are causing us to be triggered all over again.

Other survivors have been contacting me and telling me they feel like they are reliving their trauma.

I was raped when I was 19 by my best friend’s husband and another man I had known most of my life while away on a camping weekend. At the time, I was afraid for my safety and afraid of these men and wasn’t sure if it was legally rape because I knew them. I thought: “this wasn’t someone who jumped out of the woods at me – I know them – will anyone believe me?” The only thing I wanted to do was pretend none of this ever happened. Two months later I realized I had become pregnant from the rape.

This whole situation just wasn’t going to let me go. I had lost so much. I had so much taken from me. This was the only time during the experience that I was able to exercise some kind of control over my body and restore my sanity.

It was an excruciatingly difficult decision [to have an abortion], but I know I made the right choice, the best choice for me at the time. It’s something I live with every day and will never forget. As any rape survivor will tell you, this is a lifelong experience, but [having an abortion] should be my decision and no one should have the power to take that choice away.

You don’t have a choice when you are raped. You don’t have any power. You don’t have a choice. And for someone to be so casual about their comments is appalling and extremely offensive. There are situations in life that can bring you back to the rape like a soldier with PTSD.

A debate on whether it was the survivor’s fault that they got pregnant and insinuating that the victim could actually stop her body from getting pregnant can send someone right back to blaming themselves and believing, ‘It is my fault. I did something wrong.’


white supremacy and being Black woman in America

At 19 years old, I became an unwilling expert on the topic of rape. I learned about rape’s savagery and its psychological trauma.

Lately, we’ve been hearing from men who don’t know much about the subject at all. On Monday, Senate candidate Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., created a stir when he said, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” But his casual, off-the-cuff ignorance is just the latest in a long line of insults. In March, Kansas Rep. Pete DeGraf said, “Women should plan ahead for rape the way he keeps a spare tire.” A few weeks after that Indiana state Rep. Eric Turner said, “Some women might fake being raped in order to get free abortions.” I can’t stand by and watch these men who have no personal experience with sexual assault pretend to know so much about it.

I do know about rape. I received an education of the highest degree, and now it’s my turn to teach.

The mother of a pregnant leukemia patient who died after her chemotherapy was delayed over anti- abortion laws is accusing doctors of not putting her daughter’s health first.

The 16-year-old’s plight attracted worldwide attention after she had to wait for chemotherapy because of an abortion ban in the Dominican Republic.

Doctors were hesitant to give her chemotherapy because such treatment could terminate the pregnancy — a violation of the Dominican Constitution, which bans abortion. Some 20 days after she was admitted to the hospital, she finally started receiving treatment.

She died Friday, a hospital official said.

And she probably would not have gotten any treatment if the Internets and women’s groups had not picked up the story.  But this is the outcome too many anti-choice advocates and legislators (including Paul Ryan) want for the U.S.  Sickening.

Esperanza, a teenage girl with acute leukemia living in the Dominican Republic, will die if she doesn’t start chemotherapy treatments as soon as possible. But she’s nine weeks pregnant, and her country banned abortion even in cases where the mother’s life is in danger back in 2010.


The most astonishing birth video ever… captured by MRI: Well, “this is not your average birth video,” says Katie Moisse at ABC News. Using a technique called cinematic MRI — stringing together still images from a magnetic resonance imaging scanner to form a video — German researchers have created the first-ever film of a live birth from the inside. 

The team at Berlin’s Charité University Hospital had a 24-year-old mother complete her labor in a specially designed open MRI machine, capturing a side view of the baby emerging from the birth canal as the mother has her final contractions. They stopped the loud MRI machine as the baby’s head emerged, so as not to harm the newborn’s ears. The labor was recorded in 2010, but the video was just released in tandem with the publication of their study in the June issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.


There are exactly three countries on Earth that do not provide guarantees for paid maternity leave. Papua New Guinea and Swaziland are two of them. Care to guess the third?
Read the article here. 


There are exactly three countries on Earth that do not provide guarantees for paid maternity leave. Papua New Guinea and Swaziland are two of them. Care to guess the third?

Read the article here

Bei Bei Shuai was released on bail today after more than a year in an Indianapolis jail for being so depressed during pregnancy that she attempted suicide. She survived the suicide attempt but lost her baby — and her ordeal is not over yet.

Even though she was finally released today from jail, she is far from free. Even though she is no longer held in a cell, she must wear a GPS electronic monitor which tracks her location every second of the day, and which she must pay for herself ($12 dollars a day). All of Ms. Shuai’s savings have gone to the enormous cost of her ongoing legal defense, and now, she must literally pay for each day outside a jail-cell.

Ms. Shuai still has to stand trial for attempted feticide and murder of a viable fetus – facing a sentence that could be as long as 45 years. According to the Indiana Court of Appeals women who experience pregnancy losses may be charged with murder, and those who take any intentional act that is perceived as risking pregnancy loss can be charged with attempted feticide and attempted murder. 

This is so incredibly wrong….

The upshot is that teen motherhood is much more a consequence of intense poverty than its cause. Preaching good behavior won’t do anything to reduce its incidence, and even handing out free birth control won’t contribute meaningfully to solving economic problems. Instead, family life seems to follow real economic opportunities. Where poor people can see that hard work and “playing by the rules” will reward them, they’re pretty likely to do just that. Where the system looks stacked against them, they’re more likely to abandon mainstream norms. Those who do so by becoming single teen moms end up fairing poorly in life, but those bad outcomes seem to be a result of bleak underlying circumstances rather than poor choices.
Matt Yglesias at Slate, explaining that getting pregnant doesn’t make teen girls more likely to be poor throughout life. Being poor makes teen girls more likely to get pregnant. Poverty isn’t something inflicted on teen mothers by some vindictive paternalistic cosmos, y’all… (via thepoliticalnotebook)


Afghanistan 90 days Algeria 14 weeks Angola 90 days Argentina 90 days Australia 0 weeks Austria 16 weeks Bahamas, The 8 weeks Bahrain 45 days Bangladesh 12 weeks Barbados 12 weeks Belarus 126 days Belgium 15 weeks Belize 12 weeks Benin 14 weeks Bolivia 60 days Botswana 12 weeks Brazil 120 days Bulgaria 120-180 days Burkina Faso 14 weeks Burma 12 weeks Burundi 12 weeks Cambodia 90 days Cameroon 14 weeks Canada 55% up to $413/week for 50 weeks (15 weeks maternity + 35 weeks parental leave shared with father) Central African Republic 14 weeks Chad 14 weeks Chile 18 weeks China 90 days Colombia 12 weeks Comoros 14 weeks Congo, Democratic Republic of the 14 weeks Costa Rica 4 months Cuba 18 weeks Cyprus 16 weeks Côte d’Ivoire 14 weeks Denmark 18 weeks Djibouti 14 weeks Dominica 12 weeks Dominican Republic 12 weeks Ecuador 12 weeks Egypt 50 days El Salvador 12 weeks Equatorial Guinea 12 weeks Estonia 455 calendar days (100%) Ethiopia 90 days Fiji 84 days Finland 105 days France 16 weeks (100%) rising to 26 weeks (100%) for third child Gabon 14 weeks Gambia, The 12 weeks Germany 14 weeks (100%) 6 before birth Ghana 12 weeks Greece 16 weeks Grenada 3 months Guatemala 12 weeks Guinea 14 weeks Guinea-Bissau 60 days Guyana 13 weeks Haiti 12 weeks Honduras 10 weeks Hungary 24 weeks Iceland 90 days 80% up to a ceiling of Íkr480,000 (€5,300, $6,700) monthly (minimum monthly payment Íkr 91,200 (€1000, $1,275) + 90 days to be shared between the parents India 135 days (Central Government) 90 days or 12 weeks in State Governments Indonesia 3 months Iran 90 days Iraq 62 days Ireland 22 weeks (26 weeks from March 2007) Israel 12 weeks Italy 22 weeks (5 months) (80%) 2 before birth Jamaica 12 weeks Japan 14 weeks Jordan 10 weeks Kenya 2 months Korea, South 60 days Kuwait 70 days Laos 90 days Lebanon 40 days Libya 50 days Liechtenstein 8 weeks Luxembourg 16 weeks Madagascar 14 weeks Malaysia 60 days Mali 14 weeks Malta 13 weeks Mauritania 14 weeks Mauritius 12 weeks Mexico 12 weeks Mongolia 101 days Morocco 12 weeks Mozambique 60 days Namibia 12 weeks Nepal 52 days Netherlands 16 weeks New Zealand 14 weeks Nicaragua 12 weeks Niger 14 weeks Nigeria 12 weeks Norway 54 weeks (12.5 months) (80%) or 44 weeks (10 months) (100%) - mother must take at least 3 weeks immediately before birth and 6 weeks immediately after birth, father must take at least 6 weeks - the rest can be shared between mother and father. Pakistan 12 weeks Panama 14 weeks Paraguay 12 weeks Peru 90 days Philippines 60 days Poland 16-18 weeks Portugal 120 days Qatar 40-60 days Romania 112 days Russia 140 days Rwanda 12 weeks Saint Lucia 13 weeks Saudi Arabia 10 weeks Senegal 14 weeks Seychelles 14 weeks Singapore 12 weeks Solomon Islands 12 weeks Somalia 14 weeks South Africa 12 weeks Spain 16 weeks Sri Lanka 12 weeks Sudan 8 weeks Sweden 480 days (16 months) (80% up to a ceiling the first 390 days, 90 days at flat rate) - shared with father (minimum 60 days) Switzerland 16 weeks (100%), 8 weeks mandatory Syria 75 days Tanzania 12 weeks Thailand 90 days Togo 14 weeks Tunisia 30 days Turkey 12 weeks Uganda 4 weeks Ukraine 126 days United Arab Emirates 45 days United Kingdom 6 weeks (90%) 20 weeks at a fixed amount (as of March 2006 = £108.85) United States 0 weeks Uruguay 12 weeks Venezuela 18 weeks Vietnam 4-6 months Yemen 60 days Zambia 12 weeks Zimbabwe 90 days

The US and Australia with the outstanding 0 days or weeks of mandated paid maternity leave.



Tennessee’s Republican Governor Bill Haslam has not indicated if he will sign the bill.

To be clear, this bill goes further than covering, say, a violent attacker harming an expectant mother who then, unfortunately, miscarries. This bill, House Bill 3517 and the Senate’s companion, makes…

This is beyond fucked up. GOP jobs plan: get the women out of the workforce by keeping the barefoot and pregnant. Reduce/ eliminate job protections related to pregnancy and child care, force dependency on men folk. Yep, GOP dream world- back to the 40s and 50s.