Mothers would get bereavement leave for miscarriages under new bill

Labour MP Ginny Andersen.
Labour MP Ginny Andersen. Photo credit: Newshub.

Women who have a miscarriage at any stage in their pregnancy would be entitled to bereavement leave under a new Member's Bill drawn from the ballot.

Labour MP Ginny Andersen's bill would make it explicit that the "unplanned death of a foetus" is grounds for up to three days of bereavement leave.

"One pregnancy out of four can end in miscarriage, so it affects a lot of women and their partners," Ms Andersen said.

"It's important that women and their families have time to grieve and deal with not only the physical but the emotional strain of going through miscarriage."

The legislation won't include abortion because that would compromise the bill's chance of passing.

When asked whether people may need bereavement leave for an abortion, Ms Arderson said, "I think it would be [grounds], but I would like this Member's Bill to pass, and I think it's important you keep Member's Bills simple and likely to receive support across the House."

Ms Andersen says the law is currently ambiguous, leaving it up to employers to decide whether bereavement leave can be taken.

She said she knows of cases where women have asked for bereavement after a miscarriage and been declined.

"In situations where the baby's heartbeat has stopped, so women are still pregnant with a child that's not alive so you don't know when the miscarriage is going to occur, having to go to work in those circumstances can be really traumatic," Ms Andersen said.

Mother of twins Shannan Wilson has had six miscarriages.

She says while her bosses have been compassionate and allowed her paid leave, she knows of others who haven't been so lucky.

Ms Wilson said mothers and their partners need to time deal with the grief, as well as the physical pain and blood loss associated with the miscarriage.

"The really tough thing is the grief side of things. One minute you've got this amazing elation, the next you are being dropped from a great height - losing what it could have been."

She said partners don't have the same compassion shown to them, but the grief can affect them in the same way.

"It's equally devastating for men. For my husband, it was certainly very tough," Ms Wilson told Newshub. 

For miscarriage support:

Call - Sands (0508) 72 63 72

Facebook - Miscarriage Support NZ