A bill that makes it possible for pregnant women to continue to work through their pregnancies to support themselves and their families cleared its first hurdle by passing out of a state House committee last week.
The Pregnant Worker Accommodation Bill (HB 179) requires employers to provide “reasonable accommodations to women who are pregnant and must adjust duties that may challenge their health and their pregnancy.”
The bill, sponsored by Representatives Gail Chasey (D – Bernalillo), Deborah A. Armstrong (D – Bernalillo), and Joanne Ferrary (D – Doña Ana), sparked a lively debate between House Democrats and Republicans and was supported by impassioned testimonies on both sides of the aisle. The bill now moves on to the House Judiciary Committee.
From the New Mexico Political Report:
“We’re trying to alert women and employers that women don’t need to necessarily quit their jobs or stay home if there’s a small accommodation made to keep working,” state Rep. Gail Chasey, D-Albuquerque and sponsor of the legislation, said at the hearing.
State Rep. Joanne Ferrary, D-Las Cruces, said the bill would help with economic development, noting that many women make the choice between providing for their families and expanding their families.
All too often, women who are pregnant must choose between their health and economic security. Women make up half of the nation’s workforce, and 71% of mothers return to the workforce after giving birth.
In 2011, New Mexico women who became pregnant within one year, also represented 56% of the state’s labor force. The Pregnant Worker Accommodations bill aims to keep women on the job without putting their lives, or their pregnancies at risk.
READ MORE about this story at the New Mexico Political Report.