A proposed new bill in the US Senate is decades late, but a welcome one, that could greatly impact grieving families. Senator Tammy Duckworth and co-sponsor Representative Ayanna Pressley introduced the “Support Through Loss Act” bill, and here’s what you need to know about the bill that will help people get time off to cope with pregnancy loss.
According to March of Dimes, 10 to 15 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage, defined as a loss before the 20th week of pregnancy. Experiencing a miscarriage can feel very isolating, as no one really likes to talk about when a pregnancy doesn’t end with positive news – it’s still taboo to discuss miscarriage.
And unless you’ve been through miscarriage yourself, it’s hard to understand the grief that parents are left sorting through, usually in silence. And a lot of times, workers go right back to the office after experiencing pregnancy loss, because they either don’t know how to discuss it or don’t feel empowered to take time off. Unfortunately, very few people feel like they’re given the time and support they need to grieve because of this. And that’s what the supporters of the Support Through Loss Act are hoping to change.
Under the proposed legislation, workers would be entitled to receive a minimum of three days off of paid leave after experiencing a miscarriage. The same bill covers paid time off for failed adoption or surrogacy arrangement, failed in vitro fertilization, or a medical diagnosis impacting fertility.
As many of us have come to know, the road to parenthood isn't always easy. Today, @RepPressley and I are introducing the Support Through Loss Act to support families across the nation who are suffering through the unimaginable. pic.twitter.com/AumdVaORMn
— Tammy Duckworth (@SenDuckworth) July 20, 2021
“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.”
Duckworth is a mother of two, and she’s been open about her own struggles with infertility, including a miscarriage she experienced while running for senator. And for her, she knows the importance of allowing families time to process, which is so necessary.
“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 my husband and me, 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.”
Pressley hopes the proposed legislation will help reduce the silent stigma of miscarriage and provide people with the necessary support – in the workplace, too.
“Pregnancy loss should be met with care, compassion and support,” Pressley said in a press release. “It is a common experience, but many struggles in silence due to the lack of awareness and cultural stigma. Our bill sends a message to families that they are not alone and would support those experiencing the loss of pregnancy by providing them with the resources, workforce supports, and care necessary to recover and heal.”
If the Support Through Loss Act passes, it would also allocate $45 million each year to the National Institutes of Health to support research programs around pregnancy loss. And it would be welcome support for working families, or working people trying to start or add to their families, across the country.