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Pregnant Workers’ Rights Act Draws Increasing Support19 Sep

Pregnant Workers Press Conference

Photo Credit: Kate Miller

Earlier this morning, Sen. Alice Forgy Kerr (Lexington) held a press conference announcing her decision to pre-file the Pregnant Workers’ Rights Act, in advance of the 2019 General Assembly.

Joined by Reps. Melinda Prunty (Belton) and Kim Moser (Taylor Mill), and Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, Sen. Kerr leads a bipartisan coalition attempting to make Kentucky’s workforce a safer place for pregnant women and nursing mothers. Also speaking in support were Police Officer Lyndi Trischler, who was denied light duty during her pregnancy, Elizabeth Gedmark of A Better Balance, which advocates for working families, and Katrina Thompson, Director, Maternal and Child Health, for the Kentucky/West Virginia March of Dimes.

The bill, currently identified as BR 51, would require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant workers, and also provide a sanitary space for expressing milk. These mandates would only apply if they did not place an unreasonable hardship on the employer, and would not be binding on businesses with only a few employees. Such accommodations might include lighter duty, more frequent breaks, or a bottle of water at the employee’s workstation.

CCK enthusiastically supports this bill for two reasons. One reason is economic justice. Work is an important aspect of the human person, but it should always serve the family. It is unjust for a woman to have to choose between her job and her child.

The second reason logically flows from the first. The data is clear that economic anxiety is a major reason women consider abortion. It certainly isn’t the only one and, of course, modest accommodations in the workforce won’t eliminate abortion. But, approaches like this certainly will reduce abortion rates. If a woman is confident that she will not lose her job or face serious medical consequences for carrying her pregnancy to term, she will be much more likely to choose life.

We are all called to work for a world of greater respect for the dignity of the human person, to help build a Culture of Life. The way we treat pregnant women, new mothers and their children, says more about us as a society than perhaps any other metric. No one should feel they have to choose between their livelihood and their child.

Thanks to the leadership of Sen. Kerr and a broad coalition of legislators, political leaders, and advocacy organizations, with the Pregnant Workers’ Rights Act Kentucky has a golden opportunity to show how much we value the unborn and economically vulnerable families.

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