America has a weak work-family support system and a large reason for this is the lack of paid parental leave. Problems that result from this weak work-family support system include, among several other issues, delayed immunizations and doctor visits for babies, lower rates of breastfeeding, and financial difficulties for parents. Delayed immunizations, fewer doctor visits, and low rates of breastfeeding negatively affect infant health. This may lead to health problems throughout the life of the child. Society is negatively affected when its denizens are unable to contribute their fullest to society and need a lot of health care. The parents may also not be able to contribute as much as they would otherwise to society or be as productive at work. Several parents who face financial difficulties, in large part because of the costs of raising children and the weak work-family support system in America, have to go on public assistance and/or file for bankruptcy. 
Despite societal benefits from providing paid parental leave and thousands of people in the position of needing help with infant care, the United States only provides unpaid parental leave. To put this into perspective, the United States, Swaziland, and Papua New Guinea are the only countries in the world that do not offer paid parental leave. The Human Rights Watch posits that paid parental leave should be a right. 
The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) has been in place in America since 1993. It provides for 12 weeks of unpaid job protected leave for new parents and to care for either one’s own serious health conditions of for a member of the employee’s family. However, employees and employers have to meet certain requirements to be eligible for leave under the FMLA. Because of these requirements, only 11% of employers and 58% of all employees in America are eligible. 
The impact of FMLA on employees is mixed. Approximately 18% of eligible employees actually used leave protected under FMLA and roughly 24% of those employees used it for parental leave. Almost 54% of the people who used leave under the FMLA were worried about finances since the leave is unpaid. About 77% of employees said they needed the leave but didn’t take it because they couldn’t afford it. 
From the above statistics, it is clear that too many employees are not eligible for FMLA leave and/or too many employees cannot afford to take unpaid parental leave. It does not appear that America will have improved parental leave legislation anytime in the near future since the most recent proposed bills to supplement the FMLA did not even make it out of committee.  One of the main arguments against paid parental leave in America is that it’s not economically efficient. I disagree. Most other countries are able to provide paid parental leave for their citizens without detrimental economic effects. Other employers and employees are able to work together to allow new parents to have paid parental leave. It is possible. We just need to realize, as a society, the importance of paid parental leave, and then work together to ensure paid parental leave is a possibility for new parents.
 Failing its Families: Lack of Paid Leave and Work-Family Supports in the US (New York: Human Rights Watch, 2011), 1-2.
 U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Divison’s 2000 Survey Report
 H.R. 2339: Family Income to Respond to Significant Transitions Act & H.R. 2346: Balancing Act of 2011