EMMONS: Paid family leave: A key to success in post-Dobbs world

We can create a culture of life in North Carolina that truly supports families

Most of us remember where we were when the ruling on Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization was announced in June 2022.

Roe v. Wade was no more, and after the initial flurry of news reports, much of America wondered: “What’s next?” The historic ruling is now seen as one that has further divided a nation that was already split on abortion and many other issues.


While emotions and opinions run high — for good reason — this “post-Dobbs” world provides incredible opportunities to work together to ensure that all women and families have the support they need to welcome precious children into this world.

Paid family leave is one such opportunity. It’s an issue that has common ground for conservatives and liberals alike, as there are good people on both sides of the aisle who want to see women and families succeed.

Did you know that a staggering 23% of all mothers go back to work within two weeks of giving birth? Think about that statistic for a moment. Almost one-fourth of American women don’t even have two weeks to bond with their baby at home, and they return to work without having physically, emotionally or mentally recovered from birth. This goes against not only medical advice but, in my opinion, basic pro-family values.

Paid family leave benefits both parents and babies. Studies show that early bonding is crucial for the long-term mental health and resilience of children, and women with at least 12 weeks of paid leave report fewer depressive symptoms and better overall mental health.

Can we have a strong federal paid leave policy and be financially responsible? Yes! The two are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they complement one another, as parents with paid leave stay connected to the workforce and have reduced reliance on public assistance. It’s a “win-win” for not only families but society as a whole.

North Carolina has taken some important steps in the past year to support families. Thanks to the robust efforts of SB20 to support mothers both during pregnancy and after birth, state employees now have paid family leave along with other robust policies to support mothers, babies and families.

On the federal level, I’m grateful for the leadership of Sen. Thom Tillis in spearheading a bipartisan working group on paid family leave and also for Sen. Ted Budd and his steadfast support for pro-family policies on Capitol Hill.

Parenting brings unique joys and challenges, especially in today’s uncertain financial climate. Together, we can create a culture of life in North Carolina that truly supports families as they welcome the next generation — one baby at a time — and create a brighter future for all.

Julie Scott Emmons is the southeast regional director of government affairs for Human Coalition.