Speaking of family values, Jezebel's Erin Gloria Ryan points us toward a new report from the National Partnership for Women and Families that finds family-values voters tend not to put their preaching into policy practice.

Overall, we Americans don't stack up well compared to other countries in policies that help parents take care of their newest family members:

The United States distinguishes itself from much of the rest of the world by failing to provide adequate supports and protections for parents and children. The absence of paid leave protections for new parents is in striking contrast to the 178 nations that guarantee paid leave for new mothers and the 54 nations that guarantee paid leave for new fathers. The United States guarantees neither ["Expecting Better: A State-by-State Analysis of Laws That Help New Parents," National Partnership for Women and Families, May 2012, p. 5].

Paid leave saves money and saves lives:

Paid leave gives new parents time to establish and build a strong bond with a new child during the first months of life, which results in long-term health benefits for both children and parents. Parental leave can decrease maternal depression and infant mortality. And children whose mothers take leave longer after giving birth and before returning to work full time are more likely to be taken to pediatricians for regular checkups, with clear health benefits and likely cost savings down the road. In an international study of paid family leave, a 10-week extension in paid leave was predicted to decrease infant mortality by as much as four percent ["Expecting Better...," p. 13].

NPWF map of state scores on family-friendly policy 2012

NPWF map of state scores on family-friendly policy 2012

The report also cites a number of research-attested improvements in job security and decreased reliance on public assistance. Paid family leave sounds like it does a lot more to value families than Mitt Romney's family-value tropes at Liberty University Saturday.

So how does family-friendly South Dakota rank in the NPWF's scoring of family-friendly policies like paid leave for new moms and dads? We get an F, a big fat zero. We do the minimum of what federal law requires, and we go no further. Whacky liberal states like California, Illinois, and New York do much more to protect the rights of new parents with policies on parental leave and breastfeeding rights.

Please spare me your family-values bromides about marriage and abortion. If you really value families, you enact policies that help moms and dads take care of their kids and keep their jobs.