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Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Photo of California lawmaker carrying baby during vote sparks debate on social media

Assembly member Buffy Wicks had to drive to the debate after her request to vote by proxy or remotely was denied because she wasn't considered at risk from the Covid-19.

By: Trends Desk | New Delhi | Updated: September 4, 2020 11:43:14 am
buffy wicks, buffy wicks denied proxy, buffy wicks denied remote voting, california lawmaker takes newborn for floor vote, California assembly, California State Senate, viral news, indian expressPeople thanked her for showing up for the cause but said it was shameful that she had to risk the lives of her baby and herself during a pandemic.

An American lawmaker took her newborn child to a vote and a photo of her is being widely shared on social media and has prompted a debate about paid maternity leaves.

Assembly member Buffy Wicks, who gave birth in late July after a C-section, turned up at the California Assembly with her daughter Elly. She had to come in after her request to vote by proxy due to concerns over Covid-19 was rejected.

According to Politico, while remote voting was allowed in the California State Senate for many of her colleagues, her request was turned down because she wasn’t considered at high risk. Most voted remotely after Republican State Senator Brian Jones tested positive for the virus last week.

Wicks, a former staffer for President Barack Obama, traveled to Sacramento from Oakland with her newborn. She even ended up driving through smoke from wildfires in the state. She attended the final day of session and debated legislation until midnight to cast her vote on State Bill 1120, which focused on the state’s housing crisis.

Wearing both a mask and a baby carrier, Wicks (D-Oakland), posed for a photo in the Capitol on Monday. “Yep, I’m here! (And so is Elly)” she tweeted.

In a video on the Assembly floor, Wicks can be seen bouncing her 1-month-old baby to calm her. As the baby continued to cry, the lawmaker was heard saying: “I was actually in the middle of feeding my daughter when this bill came up. And I ran down on the floor today because I strongly believe we need to pass this bill. And Elly agrees that we absolutely need to pass this bill.”

“Pregnant people might be at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 compared to non-pregnant people,” said the CDC’s website.

The image quickly garnered a lot of attention online, with even former first lady and 2016 presidential nominee Hillary Clinton commenting on it. While many working mothers said they have faced similar problems and praised her for showing up, others were upset that she wasn’t allowed to vote by proxy.

California assembly speaker Anthony Rendon, a fellow Democrat, apologized to Wicks on Tuesday night after a national outcry. “My intention was never to be inconsiderate toward [Wicks], her role as a legislator, or her role as a mother,” Rendon said in a statement.

Wicks told MSNBC that she was “very concerned about the coronavirus risks”. With her baby in tow, Wicks also cast a deciding yes vote on a California expanded-paid-leave bill: “It’s either ironic or serendipitous,” she added. “Had I not been there, it potentially wouldn’t have passed.”

In 2018, New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern made history taking her baby to UN assembly, inspiring working mothers worldwide.

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