An article in the New York Times entitled “Planned Parenthood Is Accused of Mistreating Pregnant Employees” documents the stories of former Planned Parenthood workers who say they were discriminated against or had their needs ignored by Planned Parenthood when they were pregnant.
Ta’Lisa Hairston, former medical assistant at Planned Parenthood, had dangerously high blood pressure during her pregnancy. She was instructed by medical professionals to take frequent breaks at work. Hairston brought in multiple notes from her nurse asking for more breaks and other minor accommodations, but the notes were ignored by her bosses. The New York Times article says:
Ms. Hairston’s hands and feet swelled; the clinic’s plastic gloves no longer fit. Her blood pressure got so high that her doctor put her on bed rest when she was seven months pregnant.
She returned to work on strict orders to not work more than six hours a day and to take regular breaks. One day in March, she worked a much longer shift. She soon became so sick that her doctor told her to go back on bed rest. A few days later, on March 23, she went to the hospital. Doctors performed an emergency C-section. She was 34 weeks pregnant.
When she had been on maternity leave for eight of the 12 weeks guaranteed by the Family and Medical Leave Act, Planned Parenthood’s human resources department called her multiple times and urged her to return to work early, Ms. Hairston said. She emailed the department and said she felt “discriminated against.” She resigned in June.
“I didn’t get into the medical field to be treated like this,” she said.
Hairston’s case was only one of many. The New York Times interviewed multiple former Planned Parenthood workers for the article:
[M]anagers in some locations declined to hire pregnant job candidates, refused requests by expecting mothers to take breaks and in some cases pushed them out of their jobs after they gave birth, according to current and former employees in California, Texas, North Carolina and New York…
Managers have discriminated against pregnant women and new mothers, according to interviews with the current and former Planned Parenthood employees and with organizers from the Office and Professional Employees International Union, which represents some Planned Parenthood workers…
Multiple Planned Parenthood executives said in interviews that they were eager for The Times to publish an article about the lack of paid maternity leave because they hoped it would lead to changes in the organization’s policies.
Planned Parenthood employee Marissa Hamilton gave birth to a baby who was eight weeks premature. The child had to spend months in the NICU. Without paid maternity leave, Hamilton couldn’t afford to pay the medical bills and had to start a GoFundMe to try and support herself.
The New York Times article also covered multiple lawsuits against Planned Parenthood about pregnancy discrimination. Tracey Webber, former director of clinical services in White Plains, sued Planned Parenthood after she was fired four weeks after giving birth. Planned Parenthood settled the lawsuit out of court. Other lawsuits echoed Hairston’s situation, with Planned Parenthood’s administration refusing breaks to pregnant women even when doctor’s notes were presented. Another woman was fired the day she returned from maternity leave, and PP settled with her as well. According to a former manager at PP, “executives assumed that when a pregnant worker brought in a doctor’s note, it was an excuse to work less. People who took sick days were perceived as lacking commitment.”
Other Planned Parenthood managers spoke about how higher-ups refused to promote pregnant workers and new mothers. Decisions on who would be promoted included speculation on which workers were more likely to have children. They also declined to hire pregnant women. Under the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act, it is illegal to consider whether a job candidate is or will become pregnant.
Is it really surprising that Planned Parenthood would discriminate against pregnant mothers and women with young children? A pro-abortion organization might have little respect for women who choose to have children. Perhaps Planned Parenthood’s administration felt that workers should just abort, or that because they had the abortion option, there was no need to accommodate woman who chose against abortion. “It’s her choice” becomes “it’s her problem.” An organization that does not value motherhood and that promotes abortion wouldn’t hold childbearing in high esteem.
Keep in mind also that the New York Times is not a pro-life publication, but a mainstream newspaper, and a traditionally liberal one at that. If the Times says there is a problem at Planned Parenthood, the problem must really exist.
[Today’s guest post by Sarah Terzo is part of our paid blogging program.]