Charles C. Camosy: Paid Family Leave is a Pro-Life Issue That Can Unite Republicans and Democrats

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Charlie Camosy, though a native of very rural Wisconsin, has spent more than the last decade as a professor of theological and social ethics at Fordham University. He is the author of five books, including, most recently, “Resisting Throwaway Culture.” He is the father of four children, three of whom were adopted from the Philippines. The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily represent those of BCNN1.


Paid family leave has long been supported by progressives. Rightly embarrassed by the fact that the U.S. is the only developed country in the world that does not guarantee parents time off to raise their infant children and children time to nurse aging parents, Democrats have pushed for mandating such leave, legislative session in and legislative session out, for decades.

In the last few years, however, conservatives have joined the conversation in a positive way. Republicans Mike Lee, Joni Ernst, Mitt Romney, Marco Rubio and Dan Crenshaw have all proposed measures to give mothers the chance to bond with their children after birth instead of immediately going back to work.

These proposals attempt to tie family leave support to Social Security or child tax credit payments, but the GOP will likely move toward the kinds of proposals offered by Kirsten Gillibrand, which offer 12 weeks of paid family leave as a new entitlement.

As Rusty Reno, editor of the conservative religious magazine First Things, wrote recently, “If (these proposals) run afoul of the preachments of Milton Friedman, then so be it.”

If the GOP’s old consensus of conservative economics is clearly breaking down, the impetus is the conservative commitment to life. As the Republican coalition falls apart, post-Trump religious conservatives like Ross Douthat and Sohrab Ahmari are becoming more and more comfortable rejecting libertarian economics in favor of pro-life tax credits and even government entitlements as long as they support life.

How is paid family leave pro-life? Let us count the ways.

First, and most obviously, it aids women and families in deciding that they can actually afford to have a child — an important consideration when deciding how to proceed after an unintended pregnancy. Americans are consistently having fewer children than they would prefer, and their reasons are quite telling.

Economic considerations dominate. Topping the list are issues like “child care is too expensive” and “financial instability.” But “not enough paid family leave” and “no paid family leave” were selected by 39% and 38%, respectively.

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Source: Religion News Service