“No one should have to choose between healing from surgery and bonding with their baby, or eating.”
So says Sally, who recently became a mom for the first time. Sally was self-employed when she got pregnant. Because of health complications, Sally spent much of her pregnancy on bed-rest, unable to work. When she finally delivered her son, his umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck and she had to have an emergency C-section.
Three weeks later, still in pain from her surgery and still bleeding from giving birth, Sally went back to work because she had had no income for three months. “I… could not afford food for my newborn.” she said.
Sally is not alone. New moms, new foster parents, people fighting addiction, veterans, those caring for elderly parents, and many other West Virginians sometimes need time off for family and medical reasons. But not everyone has jobs that give them the time they need to heal or to care for a loved one.
Fortunately, leaders like WV Senator Richard Lindsay (D-Kanawha) are standing up for families like Sally’s. Last legislative session, while other lawmakers were pushing unpopular issues like charter schools and selling out the foster care system, Sen. Lindsay was working on real solutions for paid leave.
He introduced a Paid Family and Medical Leave bill that would offer long-term leave options to all West Virginians, including those who don’t get sick leave through their jobs. Creating this program would cost the average WV worker only $3-per-week.
Senate leaders, busy with outside agendas, stymied the bill. Undaunted, Lindsay gathered bipartisan support from the Senate to study paid family and medical leave options before the next legislative session.
Paid leave is crucial for preserving the dignity of new moms, working parents and caregivers. If our legislative leaders had any respect for families, they would support this program.
Let’s help Sen. Lindsay and others to make it happen.
Gabriel Kiener photo | unsplash.com