Why Paid Sick Leave Is a Reproductive Justice Issue

Aug 12, 2014
Ashley Morris

Page Media

Paid sick leave is a reproductive justice issue.

Even though we live in a state where Medi-Cal dollars can be used for pregnancy care, including abortion, many people cannot take time off work to seek abortion care. That’s because 39% of the US workforce, including seven million Californians, earn no paid sick leave whatsoever.

AB 1522 by Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez addresses this problem in California. It would require employers to allow workers to earn up to three paid sick days per year based on number of hours worked.

Paid sick leave is essential to ensure equal access to healthcare. Today, a woman seeking abortion care from a rural area may not be able to afford to take off the two or three days it would take her to travel to a clinic and get the care she needs. That lost pay could mean she is unable to afford her housing or pay for her utilities that month.

This also means that parents often cannot afford to take a day off to care for sick child or bond with a new baby. Workers must choose between going to work sick and creating a public health risk, or forgoing the day’s wages to stay home and recover.

The inability to earn paid sick time has a particular impact on women, who often take on the majority of responsibility for caring for both children and ailing older family members, and who make up almost two thirds of minimum wage workers.

AB 1522 is currently being held by the Senate Appropriations Committee and a decision about whether it will be allowed to move on to a vote of the full Senate will be decided this week. Please call Senate Appropriations Chair Kevin DeLeon at (916) 651-4022 and Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg at (916) 651-4006 and let them know that you support AB 1522.

Volunteers will be collecting signatures in support of AB 1522 as part of the All* Above All Be Bold Road Trip Bus Tour. This national tour is about building support for restoring and sustaining abortion coverage for low-income women and their families. Because reproductive justice is about more than having the right to abortion care, the All* Above All tour is also highlighting other important issues, such as paid sick leave. We are excited to partner with All* Above All and our friends in the labor movement to highlight this as a pressing reproductive justice issue in California.

If you’d like to volunteer at the All* Above All bus tour in Oakland on Wednesday, August 13 or San Francisco on Thursday, August 14. To help support AB 1522, please email amorris@aclunc.org.

Ashley Morris is the Senior Organizer with the ACLU of Northern California.