We Americans like to pride ourselves on being the richest, most powerful country in the world, but when a serious observer looks at indicators of quality of life in the United States, (s)he finds that the United States, on some important indicators, lags way behind the rest of the world.
For example, one of the most important tasks that human beings have is begetting and raising the next generation which assures the survival of the species and ones more immediate country and family. You would think that the procreating and raising of children would be of prime importance for a society to recognize and support. This happens throughout the world but not in the United States if we use paid maternity leave as one indicator of this value.
Dr. Jody Heymann who has made a career out of studying global family health indicators wrote an article on May 16, 2006, on the occasion of Mother's Day, for the Mercury News which serves the San Francisco, California area in which she says in part:
Perhaps the most obvious yardstick of governmental respect for mothers is maternity leave policy. Of 168 countries on which I collected data -- for Harvard University's Project on Global Working Families and at McGill University -- 164 have found a way to guarantee paid maternity leave. The only ones that haven't are Papua New Guinea, Swaziland, Lesotho and the United States. In most high-income countries, moms can receive help from dads who have paid parental leave. Indeed, in 27 countries fathers have a right to at least three months of paid leave at the birth of a child. Not in America.
To see a chart of the amount of paid maternity leave provided around the world check out the article in the Wikipedia Encyclopedia. When it comes to paid maternity leave, the United States, the richest country in the world, is last out of 168 countries.
The religious right which is pro-life and anti abortion has done nothing to help make giving birth and enjoying societal support for child rearing more available. It is downright embarassing to see how backward the United States is in supporting parenting and infant children as compared to the rest of the world. The values of American society seem to be a bit perverted when we can afford to wage wars of pre-emptive aggression in foreign lands, to give tax cuts to the rich, and corporate welfare to oil companies, but not to support mothers in the births and raising of the children of the next generation.