New Zealand held a vote on Wednesday in favour of providing paid leave to women who have suffered a stillbirth or a miscarriage. This legislation will let pregnant people and their partners obtain paid leave in miscarriage situations. Paid leave for miscarriages was available after 20 weeks or more but this new law will provide paid leave to anyone who miscarries at any point in their pregnancy. Most women obtain sick leave after these situations but now they will be applicable for paid leave after this law is passed.
Ginny Andersen who is a Labour member in the Parliament drafted this bill. She said, “I felt that it would give women the confidence to be able to request that leave if it was required, as opposed to just being stoic and getting on with life, when they knew that they needed time, physically or psychologically, to get over the grief.”
New Zealand will pass this law in the upcoming weeks. This law is an example for other countries like the U.S. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists have claimed that over 10% of pregnancies end in miscarriages. “1 pregnancy in 100 at 20 weeks of pregnancy and later is affected by stillbirth” in the United States, this was stated by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Women need paid leave not only because of the physical trauma but because it affects them mentally as well. 29% of women who suffer through this loss after one month or more show signs of anxiety, post-traumatic stress and depression. This was found in a study by the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Women who suffer through stillbirth and miscarriages should not be required to request sick leave to heal. Reproductive matters need labour policies so that workers can be given time to recover emotionally and physically while grieving from their loss.
Tessa Sugarbaker who is a gynaecologist and now works as a therapist told The Washington Post, “The two most common things I see women for after a miscarriage is trauma, grief or both. I think the trauma can come from feeling helpless that nothing could be done, from doctors not being sensitive to the experience of the woman, and from society not recognizing it as a loss.”
The United States does not have the most progressive laws when it comes to labour rights or reproductive matters. Women are often criminalised when they suffer stillbirth or a miscarriage. Arkansas and Michigan have laws that criminalize women if any of their actions lead to miscarriage or stillbirth.
When a woman suffers through this pain, offering flowers and condolences is never enough. Many women cannot afford sick leaves or time off from work. Hence paid leave is important. It is now time to introduce labour laws in the U.S. that protect pregnant people. Dine Bakst who is the co-founder of A Better Balance told TODAY, “We hear from women, low-wage women in particular, who are often a complicated pregnancy away from losing their job. I think there’s a growing recognition in this country that people have health needs and they need job-protected time off.”