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New Zealand passes ‘bereavement bill’ allowing paid leaves for parents who suffer from a miscarriage


The trauma of miscarrying a child or having a stillbirth is a big loss for any parent. The grief experienced after losing a child can be super painful, yet, there’s not enough awareness or space for bereaving parents to grieve. There’s also a big stigma revolving around the endearing loss, which seldom leaves women or their partners who go through a miscarriage from openly sharing the news of the unexpected loss or the struggle which accompanies dealing with the loss.

Several people have shared their stories of loss on social media to raise awareness. New Zealand’s lawmakers are now doing their bit in breaking the stigma and allowing parents time and support to cope with their loss.

The New Zealand parliament recently passed a landmark bill that will allow bereaved parents to take time off for their unfortunate loss.

Titled as ‘The Bereavement Bill’, the new law allows mothers and their partners who suffer from a miscarriage or stillbirth to get upto 3 days of paid leave, and not have to contemplate taking a sick leave.

The move, as experts say will allow parents to come to terms with their loss without having to think about missing wages or work, and help cope with grief.

Adding that nearly 1 in 4 women in New Zealand have had suffered from a miscarriage or stillbirth, sitting MP, Ginny Anderson, who passed the law in the parliament said that the bill would help break the stigma, sad taboo associated with miscarrying a baby and help bereaving parents better deal with pregnancy loss.

Commenting on it, a statement from Anderson read:

“The grief that comes with miscarriage is not a sickness; it is a loss. That loss takes time – time to recover physically and time to recover mentally; time to recover with a partner”.

The island nation, which is known for introducing many family-friendly policies, and allowing expecting parents to have a prolonged maternity and paternity break said that the law would cover parents. It would also allow couples to get paid leave if they were expecting a child via surrogacy or adoption but suffered from a loss.

Anderson also said in a now-viral interview that the law would most particularly help women in enduring the pain associated with the unfortunate loss, who often bear through the loss silently.

“It is an incredibly normal experience, but normal doesn’t mean easy; it doesn’t mean without pain. But we have for a long time, through silence and stigma, forced women – primarily women – into actually just pretending as if it hasn’t happened.”

The bill, which was first introduced in 2019, however, doesn’t allow women who get abortions to get similar paid leaves as well.

Many celebrities, in recent years, have spoken up about the trauma and the stigma associated with stillbirth or miscarriage and the need to raise awareness for the same.

Supermodel and celebrity chef, Chrissy Teigan, a mother of two lost her third child halfway through her pregnancy due to complications in October 2020. While many supported yet criticized her for mourning her loss so openly on social media, Chrissy highlighted the stigma associated with pregnancy loss, and how people just expect parents to get over it.

Former royal family member and actress Meghan Markle, who too was expecting her second child with Prince Harry last year lost her baby in an unfortunate miscarriage. In a New York Times essay published in November, Markle described the emotional pain as “an almost unbearable grief, experienced by many but talked about by few,”

Other countries to follow suit?

New Zealand’s praiseworthy law, many believe will go a long way in normalizing grief and bereavement and allow more workplaces, legislative assemblies to be more open. However, New Zealand is not the first country to frame the law. India has a 6-week leave policy in place for women who suffer from a miscarriage. However, it is yet to be fully established. Similar laws have been framed in the United Nation as well, but people who suffer from a loss in the last trimester are unable to access it, creating a gap.

What do you think of the new law? Do you support the idea? Comment and let us know!



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