Jane Kassim, a mother in the U.K., finally has the babies of her dreams. After learning at age 15 that she would be unable to have children because she was born without a womb, she wasn't sure it would ever be her reality to have biological children. Then, according to The Telegraph, her cousin stepped in and offered to be a surrogate, and last month Isla Jane and Ivy May were born.
A beautiful, touching story, so far, right? That is until she found out that because she used a surrogate, she would be denied the same maternity leave rights that other mothers have. Other new mothers (adoptive moms included) in the U.K. get a full 52 weeks of maternity leave (39 of them paid); Kassim was only offered 13 weeks with no paid leave at all. The blatant discrimination and disregard for what maternity leave should be about are incredible.
Surprisingly this case in the spotlight is in the UK, where we generally look with envy at their more generous maternity leave policies. But even there, women who use surrogates aren't given the same rights as other new mothers.
While maternity leave is necessary to a certain degree for the physical recovery of a woman, the other reason that's just as crucial is that it provides time for the mother and baby to bond. Moms need that time to get to know their baby, establish feeding routines, and begin to adjust to this new change in their lives. ALL new mothers need that, regardless of how a baby enters the world. To say any mother deserves anything less is shameful.
In the U.K., they're now taking a serious look at this inequity, and legislation has been introduced to change things. But what about here in the United States, where many women don't get paid maternity leave no matter how their babies came into the world? According to the Huffington Post, while current law provides American women with six weeks of paid leave, only about 50 percent of women are actually offered that because there are so many loopholes.
Overall, it's as sad as it is maddening, and just another example of how difficult it is for mothers to return to the workforce if they so wish.
Do you think women who use surrogates should be allowed the same maternity leave rights as women who carry their own children?
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