Paid Leave For Miscarriage: Lawmakers Introduce New Legislation for Workers

Photo: (Photo : TOBY MELVILLE/AFP via Getty Images)

New legislation has been introduced in the Senate that will allow women to receive three days of paid leave for miscarriage. Senator Tammy Duckworth introduced the bill, "Support Through Loss Act," on July 20, which will also cover similar incidents of baby loss, such as a failed adoption arrangement or an unsuccessful IVF procedure. 

Duckworth, a Democrat from Illinois, co-authored the bill after a personal pregnancy loss in 2016. In an interview with CBS News, the senator said that when she suffered a miscarriage, she felt a great need for time to process what happened.  

She said that she immediately went back to work after the pregnancy loss and didn't have the chance to grieve properly. In hindsight, Duckworth said that this felt like an oversight and should be adopted in policies for family leaves.

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The U.S. has a Family and Medical Leave Act that allows those eligible to get 12 weeks of unpaid leave so employees could take care of their newborn baby, newly-adopted child, or a family member who has a serious health condition. However, the government has no actual paid leave program compared to other countries.

How 'Support Through Loss Act' Will Work

Duckworth introduced the bill alongside Massachusetts Rep. Ayanna Pressley. It detailed the need for U.S. employers to give women a paid time off for pregnancy loss or related incidents. 

The lawmakers also want the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of Health and Human Services to support resources and information on pregnancy loss to the public. The legislation also indicated an annual budget of $45 million to go into studies on pregnancy loss at the National Institutes of Health. 

Data from the Kaiser Family Foundation showed that around 10 to 20 percent of pregnancies end up in a miscarriage before the 13th week. The percentage of miscarrying jumps between 31 to 50 percent for women who do not yet know they are pregnant.

In an interview with Huffington Post, the senator said that women deal with their miscarriages differently. Some may want to withdraw as they grieve, while others could easily regroup and make another plan about having a baby. However, the key factor needed in both situations is "time to process" what went on.  

Dr. Amanda Kallen of the Yale Fertility Center said that a pregnancy loss is a life-altering and traumatic experience for mothers or families. On top of the miscarriage, mothers also experience stigma after suffering a miscarriage. They are discouraged from discussing their loss openly. 

The doctor herself miscarried at work yet got back to the clinic for the rest of the day because of a packed schedule. She said it was different when she found out her mother died as she was able to leave for work and had some time off to grieve and cope.

Who is Tammy Duckworth?

The senator was in military service before running for a seat in office. She is married to Bryan Bowlsbey, who is also in the military and was a veteran of the Iraq War. 

Duckworth is already a mother to two kids, but her pregnancy journey has been challenging. She has been through "many, many failed IVF cycles" and has had a lot of heartbreaks about baby loss. 

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