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PHOENIX -- As President Obama called for expansion of maternity-leave protections in the public and private sectors this week, a report showed Arizona has among the country's worst protections for new parents.

Arizona was one of 17 states that received a failing grade from the National Partnership for Women and Families, which reviewed each state's protections for new and expecting parents.

"We looked at three different federal laws then looked at the state laws that expand upon those," said Vicki Shabo, vice president of the Washington-based nonprofit.

Using federal protections as a benchmark, states were judged by how many additional protections they provided for parents. Shabo said Arizona, which had had among the least additional protections, had actually gotten worse since the last report.

"In (the previous) report, we found Arizona had a regulation that granted 180 days of pregnancy disability leave to state workers," she said. "In this report, that regulation seems to have been rolled back."

Shabo gave suggestions on how Arizona could improve its protections.

"Arizona could put protections in place for pregnant women in the work place to make sure they're getting the same reasonable accommodations as any other worker who has temporary physical limitations," she said. "Arizona could provide greater protections for nursing mothers in the private sector."

Most of Arizona's neighboring states received similar grades, except for California, which actually topped the list with the only "A" grade.

Mark Remillard,

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