We must never stop fighting to protect a woman’s right to choose. Around the country, we are seeing more and more attacks on women’s rights. While Illinois has managed to avoid that for the most part, we must never lose sight that some people are still trying to take away women’s fundamental rights.
One of the core principles of being a citizen is the right to self-determination. Whether it’s choosing to get a tattoo, accepting or declining medical treatment, or having a child, the right to choose what to do with our own bodies is sacred in our society. For women, that includes the right to choose whether they want to have a child. That choice is uniquely theirs, and should never be impeded.
Should a woman choose to have a child, however, we absolutely must expand parental leave. There are no shortage of studies that show a parent spending time with their child early in life is essential to their development. Far too often, however, employers have no form of parental leave, or only have it for a few weeks, or allow it but only unpaid, or only allow it for a mother but not a father, and so on. This means that far too often, women are forced to make impossible choices – childcare is too expensive, so should I quit my job, lose my income, and go on public assistance? How will I get back into the workforce, and when? Do I have a family member who can take their own time to come help while I go back to work? I’m the breadwinner, but my partner’s employer won’t let them take the time because I had the child, so will we be able to support ourselves?
These are questions parents should not have to ask in our society. We should mandate employers provide paid parental leave so the child has the best opportunity possible. We should then properly fund early childcare, so that those parents can then go back to work, knowing their children will be well taken care of while they stay employed.