Giving birth while in the Senate makes Duckworth 'want to be there longer'

PHOTO: Sen. Tammy Duckworth arrives to speak outside the Supreme Court in support of a same-sex couple whose request for a wedding cake was denied by a Colorado baker who sited his religious beliefs were protected by the First Amendment, Dec. 5, 2017.Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images
Sen. Tammy Duckworth arrives to speak outside the Supreme Court in support of a same-sex couple whose request for a wedding cake was denied by a Colorado baker who sited his religious beliefs were protected by the First Amendment, Dec. 5, 2017 in Washington, D.C.

Tammy Duckworth said that becoming the first sitting U.S. senator to give birth will only make her "want to be there longer" so she can see to it that women are never forced to choose between their careers and their families.

"I want to be there to really be able to make the change, so that my daughters will grow up not knowing any boundaries, so that my daughters will grow up not having to make that choice between their profession and their fertility," Duckworth told ABC station WLS-TV Chicago.

Nine U.S. house members have given birth while in office. Duckworth downplayed the circumstances surrounding the arrival of her second child -- another girl, due in April -- by saying "if we had more women serving, I think this would not be so pioneering."

The 49-year-old Illinois Democrat said Friday at the Chicago Military Academy that she initially struggled with balancing her "prime fertility years" with "career-building years."

As a young Army officer, Duckworth said she didn't feel that she could take the time to raise children without jeopardizing her chance to rise through the ranks. After she was deployed to Iraq, where she was wounded, she wasn't able to start her family until turning 40.

Giving birth while in the Senate would give her a platform to push for improved family-leave policies, including perhaps one for the Senate, which, she said, doesn't have one.

"The problem is, as the first sitting female senator to give birth in office, there are no policies in the Senate," she said. "So I'm actually trying to figure out what they're going to be."