May 14, 2024
Albany, NY

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Delivers Remarks on Paid Prenatal Leave at Moms First Summit

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Delivers Remarks on Paid Prenatal Leave at Moms First Summit

Governor Hochul: “So, there's again another disparity — an income disparity — on whether or not you're going to get the prenatal care you need or not get it. That's why New York State will be the first State in America to say there'll be paid prenatal leave available to all of our employees. You can take 20 hours off and get what you need.”

Hochul: “Let us show that more moms and babies have survived. Let us show that more people have accessible child care. Let us know that even programs like ours to give every family that needs one a crib, so babies don't have to be unattended and in a situation that's not safe for them – we can do all this.”

Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul delivered remarks at the Moms First Summit highlighting New York’s nation-leading 12 week fully paid parental leave program. New York goes further than any other state to ensure pregnant individuals can receive the health care needed to create healthy outcomes for parent and child without jeopardizing employment.

VIDEO of the event is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here.

AUDIO of the Governor's remarks is available.

PHOTOS of the event are available on the Governor's Flickr page.

A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below:

Hello everyone. Happy belated Mother's Day from New York's first mother Governor. Just wanted to put that out there. There you go.

What does that mean? It means I get it. I understand the challenges, the trials, the tribulations as well as the extraordinary joys. It means that issues like maternal health, child care — and issues like Paid Family Leave, reproductive freedom — it all means something to me.

It's personal. I can speak from experience in ways that no other Governor in the history of New York has been able to. So, I know it's my responsibility to use those experiences to shed a light on all the disparities and inequalities that still exist in society when it comes to having children. I've lived it myself.

That's why as the Governor, I’ve made it a commitment — a personal commitment — to ensure that the state of New York, which has led in so many causes, leads the way. When we find a path forward, to make sure that we have a pro-family, a pro-mom agenda that actually means something.

This is not a soundbite. It's not a slogan, it actually has substance behind it. And the sweeping, comprehensive pro-mom agenda, in my opinion — it starts with the decision of whether or not you want to start your family now, later, or if at all. That comes down to your right to make that decision.

Now, I'll go back a little bit. I don't want to cause any PTSD, but the Dobbs decision threw a lot of women back. Back in time, back in history. Back to when our mothers had a march for certain rights that we took for granted — that my 30 something year-old daughter does not have if she lived in a different state than ours, or the state she lives in.

So, it became the law of the land. What do women do? Women Governors? Throw your hands up and say that's the law of the land? No, we fight back. We fight back. And we stood up. And we said, we have a responsibility to support women all across the nation, who live in unenlightened states. First of all, I say, “Why are you still living there? Come to New York.” Or as Taylor Swift would say, “Welcome to New York”, right? We're friendly.

But in the aftermath of that decision — and other decisions related to abortion medication — we stockpiled, we changed our laws, we have shield laws to protect doctors. We ordered, allowed pharmacists to provide contraception over the counter. Something that was always such a hassle, right? We also protected people providing healthcare services to other states over telehealth services.

So, we understand those challenges right at the get go. You should have the right to decide when your family starts if you want to, okay? That's a given. For us. But also, I want not just the 10 million women in the state of New York to have these rights — but as an American citizen, as a leader in this country — I want to make sure that 165 other million women have the same rights as well.

That's just the beginning of what New York does. We talk, we lead, we show the way to others. But also, once you've decided you want to have a child, we want the pregnancy to be healthy. I listened to the last session. There are people who can take for granted that it'll be a healthy pregnancy. They don't worry about it.

Other communities, based on statistics, outcomes — getting pregnant could be a death sentence for you. Because of the outrageous disparities that exist in society today. So how do we make those kind of investments? We're shocked that a place like the United States of America has worse statistics when it comes to childbirth — healthy childbirth — than any other wealthy nation in the world.

What's our excuse? How do we explain that? Anybody have an answer? I have a lot of questions, and I want the answers and I want them instituted in the State of New York. So, this year we announced — as someone who went through a lot of prenatal appointments, I didn't miss any, because I wasn't going to lose a paycheck if I left.

I was working for a Senator in Washington, D. C., a long time ago, but I was able to make my doctor appointments, so if something was going wrong early on, they could identify it and figure out what's going on, right? Other women — lower wage, minimum wage, hourly workers — you take that time off to go to your doctor visit, to have an investment in your health and the health of your baby, then you're losing money that you need. That takes a hit on your pocketbook.

So, there's again another disparity — an income disparity — on whether or not you're going to get the prenatal care you need or not get it. That's why New York State will be the first State in America to say there will be paid prenatal leave available to all of our employees. You can take 20 hours off and get what you need.

Also, I’ve talked to so many moms. Expecting moms. The role that a doula can play — now this is a newer concept. It wasn't a big item back when I was having babies, but there's so many communities where the doula can be the coach. The person who can say, “No, that's not in your head. It's real. You need to get a doctor's attention right now. That's not natural. Let's see if we can get you assistance. Let me coach you through this. Let me be your friend, your advisor.” And your medical advisor who's going to help you navigate a complicated system of health care that sometimes seems like it's stacked against you.

So, doulas — we started a doula directory in the State of New York, saying it shouldn't be so hard to find. What about having Medicaid cover the cost of a doula? We're doing that in the State of New York, making sure that it's available.

Also, there should be consequences that result from unnecessary procedures, including C-sections, which sometimes seem like they're for the convenience of the doctor, and not what's best for the mother. So, we're having consequences, and we just announced that a few weeks ago as well. So, my hope is that these ideas will start driving down the shockingly high infant mortality rate and maternal mortality rate that exists even in a place like New York.

But I want the ideas from many of you. I want to be the repository of great ideas on what else we can be doing as a State, because this is just — we're just getting started in New York. Also, when the baby comes, it's pure joy, until you don't sleep, and then you're exhausted, and you're worn out, and the baby won't stop crying, and you don't know why.

Also, financially. Financially, families take a hit. I could not find child care. They allowed me to keep my job. Our income went down to just me, and I was fortunate. I'm one of the lucky ones who had a husband. Now, he wasn't making a lot of money at the time, but we were doing okay. I'll tell you right now, I could not wait until we were done with formula and diapers.

I said, “You know how much money we're going to have back in our pocket? We're going to be rich. We're going to actually be able to go out one night a year because we're going to have all this money back in our pockets.”

And I was surprised – this is how old I am – my mother bought us a VCR for Christmas. She says, “You're not going out anymore, you're just going to stay home and watch movies.” Mom knew something, she had six children, she knew she wasn't going out.

But we also want to make sure we have the most generous paid leave program in America. And now that little baby that I had to leave my job for is now a father. I was so proud of the four months that he took to raise this infant – back to work now, his wife took four months. He is so much closer to that now two-year-old child than he ever would have been. He has a connection. He has a passion. He did everything that you would have wanted a father to do for generations before, except they didn't. He shared equally in the responsibility.

Again, this is a fortunate family where there's two people. That is not always the case. And the families that don't have that, the moms that are raising a child on their own, we need to be there for them as well. We need to be that village that Secretary Clinton spoke about; that's not just the title of a book, it's the reality. We need to provide that support system so, when costs are going up, we're able to help out.

The cost of child care – oh my gosh. We're paying our child care providers more in the State of New York. They deserve it. God bless them. God bless our providers. But we’ve got to get more child care places. And during the pandemic, these were the first – they're the ones who are the essential workers for our first responders, right? They left their children somewhere when they were still driving our subway trains and working in the deli and the grocery stores and the bodegas. Their kids were somewhere. We have to give them the respect they deserve and continue supporting them.

But how do we make child care more affordable? When I first became Governor, we had some subsidies, that's great, but the threshold was you had to earn $53,000 or less as a family to qualify. I said, “Really? Don't you think families making 75, 85, even 90 are still struggling?” We raised the threshold; we now have 100,000 more children covered with subsidies from the State of New York just by raising that amount.

As I mentioned, child care. $7.6 billion we put toward child care in the State of New York. We're investing heavily in this program. I will tell you; affordability matters for families. It really means a lot to them. And any way we can lift that burden off their shoulders, we can make it easier on them.

So, that's my commitment. I will find ways. I'll find out about this program. And I want to thank Reshma Saujani for the visionary approach she brought to this. Not only what she did with Girls Who Code – which is one of my favorite programs in the entire world, I brag about all the time – but what she has done with this gathering.

And take this all over the country. And when you have individuals like Hillary Clinton putting her gravitas behind this, I want to thank them for putting a spotlight on the challenges that our moms face. And all I can say is, next Mother's Day, let us show statistics that show a different picture. Let us show that more moms and babies have survived. Let us show that more people have accessible child care. Let us know that even programs like ours to give every family that needs one a crib, so babies don't have to be unattended and in a situation that's not safe for them – we can do all this.

We've taken on other challenges before, and I say today we take this on and make sure that every state has a pro-mom, pro-family agenda, and it starts in gatherings like this. So, thanks, all of you for being here.

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