The Liberal government has promised changes to legislation to allow paid leave for workers recovering from late-term pregnancy loss and stillbirth. Introducing the proposed benefit in the House of Commons in November, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said, “Every parent should have time to heal from the painful loss of a pregnancy.”
As a recent National Post article highlights, the new benefit grants up to eight weeks off work to either a woman or her partner in the event of a stillbirth after 20 weeks gestation. This would also apply to women who have late term abortions.
The benefit would only cover paid leave for the first three days of the eight weeks, an unrealistically short amount of time to expect a woman to recover from a stillbirth, but any paid time off for pre-born infant loss is an improvement. Current bereavement leave only applies to the loss of born loved ones, so it is encouraging to see the Liberals take any small step toward recognizing the grief women can face when losing a pre-born child.
This proposed benefit does, however, seem incongruous with the Liberals’ continued support for abortion. The benefit would apply to women who had a late term abortion, recognizing the distress and grief they might feel. As Campaign Life Coalition president Jeff Gunnarson shared with the National Post, “If the Liberal government admits that abortion is a form of pregnancy loss that requires time off to grieve and heal, then why is it continuing to fund and make abortion more accessible to women when it only harms them, causing pain and trauma?”
Regardless of political stripe, it is obvious that late-term pregnancy loss is hard on a mother, both physically and emotionally. As Canadians, if we can agree on the necessity of paid leave for those dealing with the tragedy of stillbirth, we are heading in good direction of recognizing and honouring the loss of pre-born human life.