Washington Post: In the paid family leave debate, pro-life, pro-family groups’ own policies are all over the map

Ian Pajer-Rogers |

From The Washington Post:

by Sarah Pulliam Bailey

Katey Zeh was working as a global maternal health advocate for the United Methodist Church when she gave birth to a baby girl in 2014. It wasn’t until she was pregnant that she realized she would not be eligible for any paid maternity leave, the same policies she had been advocating for on behalf of the denomination.

The UMC provides 18 days of paid leave for agency employees, but Zeh did not receive any leave under the denomination’s policy because she was a contractor. She gave birth on a Monday, was answering work e-mails that Friday, and went back to work the following Monday.

“I was still bleeding,” she said of her recovery after giving birth. “I had these pictures [in my head] that the baby would sleep so much and I could be on e-mail and on phone calls. The reality was so different from that.”

Religious organizations that are also pro-life, pro-family and pro-justice provide a wide range of family leave policies, including some that offer no paid options. There are no consistent family leave policies between religious institutions. Many women like Zeh, however, are raising the issue within their own organizations.

“We talk about family a lot in the church,” said Zeh, who lives in Cary, N.C. “How can we say that we value family and not do the hard thing to make sure that families have what they need to be healthy and thriving?”

Pro-business vs. pro-family

Paid family leave has also become a topic in the presidential race, coming up in GOP and Democratic debates. Politically, attitudes about paid family leave tend to fall between those who believe the government should mandate some kind of paid leave, those who believe the government could provide tax credits to businesses or those who believe the government should not change anything.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan drew scrutiny this fall when he said, “I cannot and will not give up my family time” as a condition of his speaker candidacy. Ryan, who is a devout Catholic, has opposed family leave measures proposed over the past several years. A spokeswoman for Ryan declined to share the office’s policy on family leave for its congressional employees.

Read the full article from The Washington Post