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This is ... embarrassing, on an international level. But at the level of American lives, it's awful and sad. It's a sign of our lawmakers'—lawmakers of one party in particular—contempt for working women and for families. The United States is uniquely bad among developed nations:
Compared to other rich nations in the OECD group, America’s outlier status is stark: the UK guarantees 39 weeks of paid leave for mothers, two of which are mandatory. Australia offers 18 weeks. And Mexico, the US’s neighbor to the south, gives mothers 12 weeks of paid leave, reimbursed at 100 percent of their salary. [...]
In the US, paid parental leave is considered a benefit provided by employers. Yet, only 12 percent of workers reported having such coverage in 2013, according to an estimate from the Bureau of Labor Statistics National Compensation Survey.
That means many parents—which, realistically, means mothers—are forced to choose between giving up income or finding, and paying for, child care starting when their children are teeny tiny babies. It's a terrible choice that comes directly out of terrible policymaking, and it's consistent with America's failure to guarantee paid sick leave, to raise the minimum wage to a living wage, and so many other policies that would help workers and that are common among peer countries. And Republicans, of course, are committed to keeping it this way.