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Seton Hall University School of Law




Instituting support for women and children is a difficult task to imagine in a world that is removing reproductive freedom and healthcare. In this hypothetical, do we treat the removal of abortion care as a force majeure, natural disaster, or an earthquake? If so, after the earthquake, the community bands together and works tirelessly to compensate for what has happened. But the removal of abortion care was not a natural disaster-it was planned, and it is embedded in background conditions that are pushing further away from support for women and children.

The primary task of this Article is to respond to the reality that Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health reflects a legal and social movement seeking to diminish support for those at risk of pregnancy. Given this reality, the Article focuses on realistic incremental changes that can be made to existing leave policies that can shift the frame of the relationship between employment and parenting. An improved frame would see that childbirth and unusual health crises are only a few of the events that employers need to accommodate to support parents. While the primary task of this Article is to explore the promising dynamics of incremental change to leave policy, this Article also acknowledges the range of support a state could provide if we were not in this era-if indeed Dobbs were a force majeure and the community were completely committed to mitigating its impact.

Part II of this Article considers the meaning of forced parenting and its financial impact on parents. Part III enumerates a broad list of reforms that could form a supportive fabric for parents raising children, but that would first require a far more parent-friendly social conception than the Dobbs world indicates. Part IV focuses in on parental leave laws and highlights existing examples of particular reforms that could improve the welfare of people forced to parent. The focus on existing reforms is intended to highlight the achievability of these reforms, focusing on what can be done for parents in the political conditions of 2023.

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