New Mexico could soon join Massachusetts as the only other state to offer high school students maternity leave. New Mexico is being urged by advocates of the idea, that includes the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico, to make this state law.
Advocates feel that if maternity leave is given teen graduation rates would go up in the state. The proposed maternity leave would benefit both teen mothers and fathers. Teen students would get up to 14 days of excused absence per semester. The teen mom would get an additional 10 days of maternity leave. State teachers would be required to provide the students make-up work so they wouldn’t fall behind.
New Mexico has the second highest rate of teen pregnancies in the U.S. at 53 births per 1,000 females as of 2010. The national average is 34.2 births per 1,000 females.
The 2010 census showed that for the first time in the state’s history the Latino population surpassed those of whites. The teen birth rates for White Non-Hispanics, African-American and Native American teens in New Mexico dropped by nearly 40% from 1990 to 2002. But in the same time period, Hispanic teen birth rates decreased only 12% according to the Institute for Public Health.