Published: Thursday, November 24, 2005
Legislation seeks aid for mothers, pregnant women
Grants would be provided for maternity coverage in student health insurance.
NEW CASTLE, Pa. U.S. Rep. Melissa Hart has introduced legislation that she said will help pregnant women and women with children complete their education by encouraging institutions of higher education to offer critical support services.
It's called the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Pregnant and Parenting Student Services Act of 2005 and would create a pilot program that distributes grants to participating schools that provide pregnant women and women with children access to services that will help them balance their educational and family responsibilities.
Similar legislation has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R- N.C.
Hart, of Bradford Woods, R-4th, said the assistance will help women cope with the strain of completing their education while also raising a family or preparing to raise children.
"Today, many students who are pregnant or who already have children are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet while they are trying to complete their education. Senator Dole and I believe this legislation will provide much-needed assistance to these students, including affordable on-campus childcare, maternity coverage in student health plans and telecommuting options," Hart said.
The pilot program instituted under the proposed legislation would provide start-up funding for colleges that receive the grants.
"If passed, this legislation will help pregnant students who feel they have no one to turn to, couples who would like to have children in grad school, women who feel adoption is the most empowering choice for them and women on the tenure track who want to balance work and family," said Serrin M. Foster, president of Feminists for Life.
No tough choice
"They won't feel driven to choose between their education, career plans and their children," Foster said.
Hart noted that the legislation would help expectant mothers choose life instead of having an abortion and highlighted a 2004 survey conducted by the Alan Guttmacher Institute that shows the overwhelming reason college-aged women choose to have an abortion was the fear it would interfere with their education or career.
The legislation recognizes Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902) who is widely recognized as one of the founders of the women's movement. She was also the mother of seven children and championed access to higher education for women. In 1848, Stanton spearheaded the now legendary Seneca Falls Convention, which launched the women's movement.