Sometimes those who are grieving want to get back to work and get back to "normalcy" as soon as possible after suffering a loss—but you shouldn't have to. A new bill aims to support families through pregnancy loss by offering paid time off, the first bill of its kind to be presented in Congress.
Sen. Tammy Duckworth and Rep. Ayanna Pressley have introduced the Support Through Loss Act, which would establish new paid leave benefits for individuals and couples who experience loss while trying to expand their families.
If you've ever suffered a miscarriage, you shouldn't have to worry about going to work the next day. The same goes for families who experience unsuccessful fertility treatments, failed adoptions, or a failed surrogacy arrangement—all of these are losses, and the families who experience them deserve the grace to grieve without worrying about the impact on their finances.
"Different families will deal with a pregnancy loss in their own ways, but they deserve the opportunity to deal with it. People deserve the time to deal with that," Duckworth told HuffPost. "Some people may need to grieve, others may need time to just regroup and formulate a plan to go at it again. But the key element here is time."
As many of us have come to know, the road to parenthood isn't always easy. Today, @RepPressley and I are introducin… https://t.co/3nTCgB2haa
— Tammy Duckworth (@SenDuckworth)
Workers would be given at least three days of paid leave when enduring these types of pregnancy losses or fertility-related losses under the proposed legislation.
Duckworth is a mother of two, but she experienced 10 years of infertility before becoming a mom, as well as a miscarriage that occurred while she was running for senator. She says she understands exactly what these families face after a loss.
"I went through many, many failed IVF cycles where I had my hopes up and it would fail. Each and every one of those cycles was devastating to me and my husband, but me in particular," Duckworth said. "It was pretty devastating to have to go through that [miscarriage] process and not have the time to deal with it."
I had a miscarriage in 2018, and it was one of the most impactful and devastating experiences of my life. I was freelancing at the time, and both my desire to distract myself and not lose money (when you're a freelancer, you don't get paid time off) drove me to work the very next day. Everyone I worked with was extremely kind and understanding (many of my coworkers had experienced pregnancy loss too, unfortunately), and I thought working while processing my grief was what I needed.
It wasn't. Legislation like this would have alleviated the burden of making that decision.
If passed, the Support Through Loss Act would allocate $45 million annually to the National Institutes of Health to support research about pregnancy loss. The legislation would also influence the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to raise awareness about pregnancy loss and to direct those suffering toward mental health support.
Earlier this year, New Zealand passed the Bereavement Leave for Miscarriage Act, which offers three days of paid leave at full pay for anyone experiencing pregnancy loss. It was the first legislation of its kind at the time—and now we can have hope that it won't be the last.