On July 13, 1990, Ashcroft vetoed a bill that would have provided eight weeks of unpaid leave to new birth and adoptive mothers. (Veto Letter on SB542, 7/13/90). This bill was even less helpful to families than a similar proposal debated at the national level that had been vetoed by President George Bush just two weeks earlier. The Missouri bill would have provided leave only for mothers, not for fathers, and would have been limited to leave to care only for very young children. St. Louis Post-Dispatch. May 27, 1990.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch condemned Ashcroft’s veto in an editorial: "The veto of this bill pitted the welfare of business against the welfare of the family - and the family lost." St. Louis Post-Dispatch, July 16, 1990. Then-Lieutenant Governor Mel Carnahan also criticized the veto, pointing out the disconnect between the veto and Ashcroft’s observance of "Family Week" in Missouri. A news story published by UPI summarized Carnahan’s comments:
- John Ashcroft is living in the 1950s, the world of Ward and June Cleaver....The Governor states the obvious by saying American family life can be enhanced by spending more time with children, eating meals together and encouraging high moral values. Missouri’s families are looking for leadership from their governor, not sermonizing ... Working mothers and their infants need the protection that Ashcroft has so callously denied them ... There is more than a taint of hypocrisy on the part of a governor who discourages even minimal leave to care for children.
UPI (Aug. 20, 1990).