Being a mom is joyful and sometimes challenging. Whether you are pregnant, breastfeeding, planning to foster or adopt, or trying to conceive, other people comment on your decisions about parenting. Moms have to make accommodations for everything — doctor visits for you and your child, finding a place to pump, dealing with sickness, home visits for adoptive moms, and family leave after your child is born.
While there has been much debate in the U.S., and even in Ohio, about women’s rights, what is really getting done?
In 2017, I wrote a story about House Bill 13, introduced by former State Rep. Anne Gonzales (R-Westerville), which would permit a mother who is breastfeeding her baby to be excused from jury service. Gonzales proposed the bill after a constituent told her about an experience while serving on a jury while breastfeeding.
This was the second time she introduced a bill related to this topic. As of 2019, neither bill has received any votes.
Currently, 17 states and Puerto Rico exempt breastfeeding mothers from jury duty or allow jury service to be postponed, according to the National Conference of State Legislators.
That’s not the only bill concerning women’s rights that is being ignored. In 2016 (Senate Bill 301) and 2019 (Senate Bill 94), two bills hoped to make reasonable accommodations for women who are pregnant and breastfeeding. Both bills, as of 2019, have no votes or continuing efforts in committee hearings.
State Senator Tina Maharath (D-Columbus), who introduced Senate Bill 94, says mothers are adding economic value to this state and this would be one small step.
She adds that, for moms who are pregnant and breastfeeding, the reasonable accommodations being proposed help them to be productive, well-balanced and feel like a valued citizen at work.
The reasonable accommodations in Senate Bill 94 mean “a request for change or modification in work duties.” It also includes breastfeeding needs and ensuring the pregnant employee is not discriminated against for taking or not taking leave and refused opportunities.
However, Maharath says while some local labor unions support the policy, bill advocacy is needed.
Two additional state legislature bills, one of which Maharath is sponsoring in the senate, propose changes to family medical leave insurance benefits to further help caregivers and new parents.
This month, when we celebrate all types of moms, I have to wonder when we will start to care. In simple terms, it’s not only women’s rights — it’s also time for moms’ rights.
To finally be heard and get reasonable accommodations.
And, as usual, it’s mom’s job to get it done.
This monthly column ” Editor’s Note” appeared in the May 2019 issue of Northeast Ohio Parent magazine