Story at a glance
- Conservative "The View" host Meghan McCain has returned to the show after an extended parental leave.
- McCain experienced health complications during and after the birth of her child, causing her physical pain that she called "deeply humbling."
- The experience led to a sort of epiphany for McCain, who is now a staunch advocate for mandating parental care for mothers in the United States.
- Said co-host Whoopi Goldberg, "That’s funny, we have been fighting for this for years: begging, screaming."
Sometimes seeing is truly believing, as seems to be the case with television host Meghan McCain, who recently rejoined her fellow panelists on “The View” after an extended maternity leave.
Upon her return, McCain shared the unexpected struggles she dealt with while on her three-month maternity leave, including suffering from a postnatal preeclampsia — a rare condition that can occur when a new mother has high blood pressure and builds up excess protein in their urine. Her condition is what prolonged McCain’s maternity leave, and her sheer ability to prolong it is what convinced the lifetime Republican to advocate for mandatory paid family leave.
“When I gave birth, I actually had post-natal pre-eclampsia, and I was in the hospital for a week after on a magnesium drip. And it really, really kicked my butt,” said McCain. “I was planning on coming back to the show for the election in six weeks after I gave birth, and I was physically unable to. I had to have my husband and my mother-in-law help me do everything from shower to eat. It was deeply humbling.”
The 36-year-old mother also disclosed feelings of privilege that she held during her extended maternity leave, saying, “as I thought about it, the more angry I got that there were women in the rest of America that didn’t have the same kind of luxury I had working here at 'The View.'”
McCain called the lack of mandatory paid maternity leave in the United States a “dark spot” on our society, and shared particular feelings of anger toward her fellow conservatives. “We are the party of family values, and everything in our ideology stems from the nucleus of the family. We are leaving women in this country without the capacity and ability — unless you have an employer that allows you to — to take care of your child, to heal physically, which is something that needs to happen.”
The talk show host dropped the well-known statistic that the United States is the only developed nation that doesn’t supply women with paid family leave.
Maternity care around the world
McCain is right. In fact, among 41 nations, the United States is the only country that does not mandate any kind of paid leave for new parents, according to data compiled by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
This is a particular problem considering the share of mothers who work either full or part time in the U.S. has increased over the past half-century from 51 percent to 72 percent. Almost half of two-parent families now include two full-time working parents.
According to OECD data, in 20 of 41 countries that mandate parental leave, all paid leave available is allocated for new mothers. In six of those countries: Canada, Israel, Slovakia, Switzerland, Costa Rica and New Zealand, maternity leave accounts for 100% of all available paid leave related to the birth or care of a child.
In a stark comparison with the United States, countries like Estonia offer more than an entire year and a half of paid leave to new parents, while a number of countries such as Bulgaria, Hungary, Japan and others offer more than a year’s worth.
The United States is unique in that while it does not have a national paid leave mandate, there is now a growing number of states that have implemented their own. California, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia all have state-mandated paid leave plans, and the state of Washington joined the list at the beginning of 2020 to provide eligible mothers with a mandatory 12 weeks of parental leave.
In November 2020, Colorado voters also approved a measure that will finally create a Paid Family and Medical Leave program in the state after several failed attempts to create a similar program through the state Legislature. The passage of Proposition 118 makes Colorado the first state to enact paid family leave through the ballot.
McCain also named a number of fellow conservatives who now support such mandates, like Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, and shared that she hopes to raise awareness for a mandatory paid maternity leave in 2021 and "really put pressure" on lawmakers to support the cause when they appear on “The View.”
“Ask them why the women of America don’t get the kind of maternity leave that Meghan McCain got,” she insisted.
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