Our Turn: Override Sununu’s veto of paid family leave

Published: 9/17/2019 7:00:28 AM

As physicians, we see families faced with untenable situations, choosing between their livelihoods and income and the need to heed our medical advice for their family’s well-being.

Senate Bill 1 aims to create a paid family and medical leave program for New Hampshire but was vetoed by Gov. Chris Sununu.

This program is critical to the health of families both in the short and long term, allowing them to take paid time off to care for themselves and family members. The New Hampshire Medical Society, the New Hampshire Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the New Hampshire Academy of Family Physicians, the New Hampshire Psychiatric Society and the New Hampshire Chapter of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists urge the New Hampshire House of Representatives and Senate to override the governor’s veto of SB 1 when they have the opportunity to do so this week.

As a society, we encourage patients to listen to their physicians, but we don’t give them adequate resources to be able to do so. Adults responsible for their aging parents struggle to find balance between their work life and caregiving. People of all ages with serious illnesses had to work through treatments because they couldn’t afford to miss work. Parents could not stay home with their infants, to the detriment of both parents and infant.

These are the times when life is most stressful and having the ability to take paid leave from work to take appropriate care of oneself or family can make all the difference in the world.

We see too many parents who must make the heart-wrenching decision to leave their newborns or sick children alone in the hospital in order to preserve their family’s economic security. Newborns greatly benefit from having a parent with them at home, and we encourage parents to do so when they can. Of course, we know that not everyone can take this advice. Both scientific research and our clinical experience tell us that children need their parents at critical times in their lives, whether in the important weeks following birth or when recovering from serious illness.

Enacting policies like paid family and medical leave is a smart proactive step we can take to safeguard our families and children. Please urge your New Hampshire legislators to override the governor’s veto and pass paid family and medical leave into law.

(Tessa Lafortune-Greenberg is president of the New Hampshire Medical Society. The op-ed is also signed by Steve Chapman, president of the New Hampshire Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics; Melissa Duxbury, president of the New Hampshire Academy of Family Physicians; Patrick Ho, president of the New Hampshire Psychiatric Society; and Ellen Joyce, chair of the New Hampshire American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.)




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