New Zealand has become the first country in the world to approve a law that would give couples who suffer a miscarriage or stillbirth paid leave.

MP Ginny Anderson, who drafted the bill, said the law will allow would-be parents to come to terms with their bereavement.

“The grief that comes with miscarriage is not a sickness; it is a loss,” the Labour MP said. “That loss takes time – time to recover physically and time to recover mentally; time to recover with a partner”.

But the law does not apply to parents who terminate pregnancies, the MP said despite New Zealand decriminalizing abortion in 2020.

New Zealand had already been requiring employers to provide paid leave in the occurrence of stillbirth when a fetus is lost after a gestation of 20 weeks or more.

But the new legislation, which will become law in a few weeks’ time, expands the rights parents enjoy to anyone who loses a pregnancy at any point.

“I felt that it would give women the confidence to be able to request that leave if it was required, as opposed to just being stoic and getting on with life, when they knew that they needed time, physically or psychologically, to get over the grief,” Andersen said.

Other countries with similar legislation include Australia where those who miscarry get unpaid leave if they lose a fetus after 12 weeks and Britain where would-be parents who go through a stillbirth are entitled to paid leave for losing a fetus after 24 weeks.

According to the New York Times, New Zealand’s Ministry of Health estimates that one to two pregnancies in 10 will end in miscarriage.
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