Ginny Andersen, a member of the Labour Party led by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, has gotten the landmark Bereavement Leave for Miscarriage Bill unanimously approved by New Zealand's parliament.
Time off to grieve and heal
The new bill will give couples the time needed to grieve the loss of a pregnancy by giving three paid days off from work to recover. Andersen, the bill's sponsor, said:
The Bill will give women and their partners time to come to terms with their loss without having to tap into sick leave. Because their grief is not a sickness, it is a loss.
She also expressed her desire to end the stigmatization surrounding miscarriages and stillbirths and believes the new bill will allow room for the conversation to be had. Andersen hopes the legislation will promote a sense of openness between employer and employee considering the frequency of pregnancy loss is high. Current statistics show that and estimate of one in five pregnancies result in a miscarriage or stillbirth. She explained that:
People still are afraid to talk about it. Particularly in that first trimester of pregnancy... There might be a whole range of reasons, but that’s kind of like an unspoken rule, you don’t talk about your pregnancy until three months.
New Zealand: a beacon of light for women's rights
Second only to India to have passed a bereavement bill, New Zealand continues to pave the way for progression and women's rights following the news earlier this year that schools in the country would start rolling out free sanitary products to end period poverty.
The new bill will be extended to couples looking to conceive through adoption or surrogacy but will not include abortions as Andersen has plans to establish similar rights as a separate law to women who have had an abortion sometime in the foreseeable future.