Patrick T. Brown

Fellow

Patrick T. Brown is a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, where his work with the Life and Family Initiative focuses on developing a robust pro-family economic agenda and supporting families as the cornerstone of a healthy and flourishing society.

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Patrick T. Brown is a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, where his work focuses on developing a robust pro-family economic agenda and supporting families as the cornerstone of a healthy and flourishing society.

His writing has been published in The New York Times, National Review, Politico, The Washington Post, and USA Today, and he has spoken on college campuses and Capitol Hill on topics from welfare reform to child-care and education policy.

He has published reports on paid leave and family policy with the Institute for Family Studies, and edited an essay series featuring working-class voices for American Compass. He is an advisory board member of Humanity Forward and the Center on Child and Family Policy and a contributing editor to Public Discourse.

Prior to joining EPPC, Patrick served as a senior policy advisor to Congress’ Joint Economic Committee. There, he helped lead research about how to make it more affordable to raise a family and more effectively invest in youth and young adults. He also previously worked a government-relations staffer for Catholic Charities USA.

Patrick graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a degree in political science and economics. He also holds a Master’s in Public Affairs from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. He and his wife Jessica have four young children and live in Columbia, S.C.

 

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Strange Bedfellows Could Lead to Pro-Parent Policies

Patrick T. Brown

At the end of the day, changing the law and the culture to be more pro-family will, at times, require strange bedfellows.

Articles

Newsweek / July 12, 2022

Critics say the Right only Cares about Fetuses. They’re not Paying Attention.

Patrick T. Brown

Mitt Romney and Marco Rubio are among lawmakers who have put forth solid proposals to help families. Now is the time to enact them.

Articles

Deseret News / June 29, 2022

Assembling the Mosaic of American Family Life

Patrick T. Brown

As family policy takes up a bigger share of the nation’s attention, it will be essential to be creative and proactive, but also to start from a common set of facts.

Articles

Newsweek / June 22, 2022

Do We Finally Have a Pro-Family Plan to Rally Around?

Patrick T. Brown

If conservatives adopt the Family Security Act as a key pro-family policy proposal, it will be a huge win for the cause of life.

Articles

The Washington Stand / June 21, 2022

Romney Revamps His Family Security Act

Patrick T. Brown

The Romney plan’s redesign stands with one foot firmly in conservative principles while being aggressive about using federal resources to support the institution of the family.

Articles

The Dispatch / June 16, 2022

The Failure of ‘Compassionate Conservatism’ Offers Lessons for the Trumpian Right

Patrick T. Brown

Republicans looking to shift the party toward the working class should study the failure of the Bush-era mantra.

Articles

Politico / June 14, 2022

On Gun Law Reform, This Time Could — and Should — Be Different

Patrick T. Brown

Uvalde, Texas, now joins Columbine, Sandy Hook and Parkland in the heart-rending litany of names that conjure up images of…

Articles

Deseret News / May 31, 2022

The Pro-Family Agenda Republicans Should Embrace After Roe

Patrick T. Brown

The movement that describes itself as pro-life must encompass a broader vision of policy than just prohibiting access to abortion.

Articles

New York Times / May 10, 2022

Trump’s Divisiveness Was Worth the Price to Secure What May Be the End of Roe…

Patrick T. Brown

I have mixed feelings about Donald Trump’s legacy. But I’m glad he appointed conservative Supreme Court justices.

Articles

USA Today / May 4, 2022

Fighting for Fatherhood

Patrick T. Brown

With the Left’s hostile response to Florida’s initiative to support responsible fathers, conservatives can occupy the high ground on this crucial issue.

Articles

City Journal / April 28, 2022

How Should States Approach Early Childhood Policy?

Patrick T. Brown

Conservative policymakers should put forward an unapologetically family-first approach to the early years of a child’s life.

Articles

The School Choice Movement Should Focus on Parents’ Values

Patrick T. Brown

More policymakers, particularly in red states, should make a values-based case for school choice.

Articles

Institute for Family Studies / April 13, 2022

As long as Roe v. Wade was the law of the land, the pro-life movement's energies were devoted towards changing the judicial regime that prevented states from enacting legislation to protect unborn life by restricting abortion.

Now, the movement to end abortion must include a wider variety of policy tools in its arsenal. Especially in an era of almost 9 percent inflation, reducing the demand for abortion will require creative policy solutions. And sometimes—such as with one bill currently awaiting a Senate vote—that may mean working with unexpected partners to make life easier for pregnant moms and new parents.

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) would clarify that employers must make reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers, while exempting small businesses or firms that would be unduly burdened by such a request. It would also protect pregnant workers from retaliation, coercion, or intimidation if they request a pregnancy- or childbirth-related accommodation.

Discriminating against pregnant workers has been against the law since 1978. But the law's structure has made it difficult for pregnant women to successfully file discrimination claims. Currently, pregnant workers seeking an accommodation for their job must first identify another worker who was provided similar accommodations, and courts have generally interpreted that clause fairly narrowly—one advocacy group estimates two-thirds of workers lost their pregnancy discrimination lawsuits, thanks in large part to this requirement.

Conservatives understand that men and women are different, and the burdens that pregnant women carry are especially worthy of respect and adaptation. The PWFA would place more of an onus on firms to ensure pregnant moms can continue to contribute to their families' economic well-being, rather than allow bad actors to push pregnant women out of their jobs via legal loopholes—or leave them at elevated risk of miscarriage.

A pro-life culture would not shrug when firms penalize pregnant women through incomplete accommodations or forced unpaid leave. A woman facing an unexpected pregnancy who knows her employer will face no legal consequences for cutting back her hours is not one who is receiving the social support she needs to continue on and to welcome her baby.

Many pregnant women have little or no desire to work in the later stages of pregnancy; but many low-income and working-class moms have no choice but to clock in and clock out with the aches and pains of even the easiest pregnancy, which make each day feel longer. A laissez-faire approach to economic policymaking might be willing to countenance these women being squeezed out of a job because their employer couldn't find a way to accommodate their new situation. A pro-family policy regime, however, should require employers to think long and hard about what other duties those moms might be able to perform.

Some conservatives are rightly skeptical of the expansion of civil rights law to encompass ever-broader swaths of American society. But opposing the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act won't scale back the reach of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (pregnancy discrimination is, after all, still against the law); it will just make the process for proving discrimination claims less burdensome. If there is one class of worker pro-family conservatives should go to bat for, it is pregnant women forced to quit their jobs because of an employer unwilling to make appropriate accommodations.

Perhaps the biggest stumbling block for conservatives may simply be the act's biggest supporters. It's been endorsed by a who's-who of liberal advocacy groups, from the ACLU to the National Women's Law Center to NARAL Pro-Choice America. Supporters crafted the bill in a way to most likely annoy conservatives, internationally using gender-neutral terminology like "qualified employees affected by pregnancy," to avoid giving fodder to those who believe one sex has the biological capability to gestate and birth new life and one does not. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which is going through its own break-up with the Right, has supported the bill so long as it exempts businesses with fewer than 15 employees.

These provisions might give conservatives headaches. (Although an enterprising Republican senator might use his or her support for the bill to push an amendment explicitly referring to "pregnant women" and see what kind of response ensued.) But at the end of the day, changing the law and the culture to be more pro-family will, at times, require strange bedfellows.

Defending the institution of the family against the mindset in which all that matters is economic growth will require establishing some beachheads, and protecting pregnant women at work is an appropriate place to start. The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act has already received some Republican votes in the House, and has been co-sponsored by Republican Senators Richard Burr (N.C.) and Bill Cassidy (La.) When it comes up for a vote on the floor, it deserves a robust show of support from the pro-family Right.

Last week, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) told CNN that "Republicans ought to focus on pro-family policies to support mothers and their children, not corporate welfare for big business and the ultra-wealthy." He's right.

For Republicans who claim the mantle of the "parents' party," the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act offers the chance to put Hawley's advice into action. It is a modest but meaningful chance to demonstrate, in our new, post-Dobbs era, that conservatives are serious about standing up for pregnant moms and their babies.

Patrick T. Brown is a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, where his work focuses on developing a robust pro-family economic agenda and supporting families as the cornerstone of a healthy and flourishing society.

Image: Liv Bruce on Unsplash