The Pregnant Worker Fairness Act (PWFA) went into effect this summer. Perimenopause and menopause are related to workers’ reproductive lives and capacity for pregnancy. The inclusion of these terms will provide valuable guidance to employers and the millions of affected workers.
A new Pregnancy Justice report illustrates an alarming rise in pregnancy criminalization, increasing three-fold over the past 16 years. The report finds that just five Southern states are largely responsible for this increase in arrests.
Despite the major concerns brought forth in the report, feminist organizers are not backing down. Instead, they see the findings as “a call to action, and anyone working to achieve greater bodily autonomy ought to heed that call.”
An expectation of sacrificial motherhood may explain why eating while pregnant is such a fraught affair. On the food-related anxieties and pressure placed onto pregnant women:
“I discovered that “eating for two” is an anachronism, a unicorn, a thing from a svelter (or hungrier) past. … The pressure for mothers to modify their behaviors based on poorly understood risks plays out in the way that women are ‘educated’ about eating.
“Mothers are exhorted to optimize every dimension of children’s lives beginning in the womb. Good mothering is construed as behavior that reduces even minuscule or poorly understood risks to offspring, regardless of potential cost to the mother.”
An Ohio court of appeals unanimously overturned a pregnant woman’s conviction under the state’s “Corrupting Another with Drugs” law last month in a rare post-Dobbs win for the rights of pregnant people. Prosecutors in Ohio—and elsewhere—have increasingly sought to “protect” fetuses by manipulating state laws initially passed to protect pregnant people themselves from harm.
Though prosecutors have vowed to appeal the ruling vacating Hollingshead’s conviction, the Ohio court’s decision could help slow the march towards criminalizing pregnant women.
In 1987, Attorney Lynn Paltrow defended Pamela Rae Stewart, a California woman criminally charged for failing to follow medical advice while pregnant. This case was one of the first attempts to criminalize a pregnant person for their actions and argue that fetuses have constitutional rights. In 2000, Paltrow started National Advocates for Pregnant Women, now called Pregnancy Justice, to defend pregnant people against criminalization and other deprivations of their rights.
“With half the population capable of pregnancy, what we have to do is change the conversation so that it is clear we are not just defending abortion, we are defending the personhood of the people who sometimes need abortions, but who always need to be treated as full rights-bearing, constitutional persons.”
The health of Black women is under constant attack. Women’s Reproductive Rights Assistance Project (WRRAP), the nation’s largest independent abortion fund, follows a reproductive justice model and continues to work in marginalized communities across the U.S. to provide abortion funding to providers on behalf of patients.
“We believe equality, equity and autonomy are fundamental rights. We believe every individual should have agency to make decisions about their own life and well-being. We believe governments should not have control over a woman’s body, as it violates their right to bodily autonomy and bodily integrity. We believe women should not be relegated to second-class status.”
Since the news broke about Pat Schroeder’s death on March 14, there have been thousands of tributes, obituaries, tweets and social media postings in her honor. They described her as a maverick, pioneer, feminist champion, trailblazer, fearlessly independent politician, and an icon and role model for many elected officials, men and women. We agree—but for the feminist movement, Pat Schroeder was much more. On March 22, 2023, the House of Representatives will honor Schroeder with a moment of silence. In honor of this one minute—60 seconds—of silence, we’ve compiled 60 stories from people who knew and admired Pat Schroeder.
“Pat was best known for being a fierce advocate for women. And many young women asked her for advice. She told them to make sure women were in rooms where decisions were being made. And if they were not, to kick the door down and hold the door open for those behind them.”
Lawmakers in New York will soon vote on an Equal Rights Amendment that explicitly protects reproductive rights.
“The ERA covers everybody’s issues. It’s an opportunity for people to come together and break down some of the silos that usually divide us. It is the embodiment of the values of reproductive justice.”
Last week, President Biden signed off on a $1.7 trillion spending package that has everybody buzzing about the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act. Less discussion has surrounded another piece of legislation included in the omnibus, the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections (PUMP) for Nursing Mothers Act—a long-awaited victory for all breastfeeding, chest-feeding and exclusively pumping parents working outside of the home.
Why is there so much resistance to women pumping in the workplace?
The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act takes effect today, requiring employers to make “reasonable accommodations” for pregnant and postpartum workers.
“It will no longer be the case that pregnant workers can be ousted from their jobs for simply requesting basic accommodations like permission to sit on a stool, carry a bottle of water, or take additional bathroom breaks,” said Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center.