The New Zealand Parliament has unanimously passed a bill that will give mothers and their partners three days of bereavement leave following a miscarriage or stillbirth.
While it will take far longer than three days to grieve the loss of a child and for women to recover physically and emotionally from a miscarriage or stillbirth, this law is a step in the right direction.
The bill’s sponsor, Labour MP Ginny Andersen 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. And loss takes time."
She noted that New Zealand is only the second country in the world to pass such “progressive and compassionate legislation”. India is the only other country with such a law.
Andersen expressed her gratitude to her parliamentary colleagues for their unanimous support and acknowledged especially the women who have suffered miscarriages.
"Most importantly, I’d like to acknowledge the one in four New Zealand women who have had a miscarriage. I hope this bill will go some way in recognising the need for time and space to deal with the unimaginable grief that comes with losing a pregnancy," she said.
It is heartening to see such strong support for a law that recognises just how devastating miscarriage or stillbirth can be and that offers a compassionate and practical response to those who have been affected by the loss of an unborn child. Hopefully this recognition in law will also go some way to enabling parents to talk about their loss more openly and not feel so isolated or unseen, as is so often the case currently in society.
With one in four Australian women also experiencing miscarriage, we hope the Australian Government will be inspired to follow New Zealand’s example and undertake the necessary reform to ensure parents can take time to grieve and heal after such trauma.