In 2017, politicians are relentless in their efforts to roll back the clock on women’s health and rights. Between the national assault on women’s access to basic health care – including maternity care, the “defunding” attacks against Planned Parenthood health centers, and several other dangerous measures – progress on these issues feels particularly challenging.
Challenging, but not impossible. In fact, there is one thing our state can do right now to stand up against this anti-women agenda.
As our country celebrates Mother’s Day and I reflect on my own pregnancy and plan for motherhood, I’m optimistic our state will close existing gaps and strengthen protections for pregnant workers by passing the Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. In fact just two days ago, the Massachusetts House of Representatives unanimously passed the bill, signaling an important step forward for this legislation.
As a lifelong reproductive rights advocate, I strongly believe that having access to a full range of sexual and reproductive health care services is essential in helping women, men, and people of all genders plan their futures.
We must have policies in place to ensure equitable access to this care – but that alone isn’t enough. Elected officials across the country have a responsibility to pass strong, commonsense policies concerning paid family medical leave, equal pay, and pregnant workers’ rights to help women and families succeed. Passing the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act would be a critical advancement towards the larger goal of achieving full equality in the workplace.
No woman or parent should have to choose between maintaining their employment and a healthy pregnancy. But in the absence of protections that prohibit discrimination against pregnant workers, it is the unfortunate reality is that pregnant workers face unfair, discriminatory practices right here in Massachusetts.
What the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act does:
This commonsense policy would:
Prohibit employers from making hiring and firing decisions based on a person’s pregnancy status.
- Require employers to provide pregnant workers and nursing mothers with reasonable accommodations, such as allowing more frequent bathroom breaks or using a stool while working at a cash register.
- Protect pregnant workers from being forced to take leave from their jobs and lose wages and benefits if a reasonable accommodation can be made.
- Protect pregnant workers seeking reasonable accommodations from adverse employment consequences and prevent the denial of opportunities based on that need for accommodation.
What’s Next for the Bill and How You Can Take Action:
The Massachusetts House of Representatives unanimously passed the bill which means it will now go to the Massachusetts Senate for a vote. So in the meantime be sure to:
- Share this blog post with your friends and networks on Facebook and Twitter to inform them about the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.
- Look up your state senator and call them to voice your support for the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.
- “Like” the Massachusetts Pregnant Workers Fairness Act Coalition Facebook page and the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts Facebook page to keep up to date about the bill.
If we continue to take action and speak out, I hope that by next year’s Mother’s Day, we will have guaranteed protections for pregnant workers in Massachusetts.