It began as a compassionate new policy, one that makes perfect sense: women (and sometimes, their partners) who lose a baby through miscarriage should be entitled to paid time off to mourn and recover.
The movement first came to prominence in March of 2021, when New Zealand passed a new law. NPR reported that “New Zealand’s Parliament has approved legislation that will provide three days of paid leave after a miscarriage or stillbirth, without needing to use sick leave.” And indeed, the loss of a pregnancy can be not only heart-breaking but also physically harrowing. This is a humane policy.
According to the NPR report, however, the New Zealand law defines a miscarriage as “a pregnancy loss earlier than 20 weeks of gestation.” This broad definition covers all pregnancy losses, unplanned and planned.
Fast forward to last September, when Pittsburgh became the first U.S. city to pass a similar measure, covering its non-union municipal employees. Pittsburgh’s new law is more explicit, amending the city’s Human Resources code to provide up to three days of paid leave in the event of a “miscarriage, stillbirth or termination” of pregnancy.
The following month, Portland, Ore. followed suit with a paid pregnancy loss leave of its own. Local news KOIN reported: “Michelle Rodríguez, a senior policy advisor for Portland Commissioner Mingus Mapps, said this would also cover termination of pregnancy, such as abortion. Employees do not have to disclose the specific form of pregnancy loss.”
One thing that’s important to note about the Pittsburgh and Portland policies is that they are classified as “bereavement leave.” This must be confusing for the “clump of cells” crowd, because if no actual person was lost, of what is the sufferer bereft? But to the rest of us, this policy is, again, compassionate and humane. I’m not here to judge any woman who decides she needs to terminate a pregnancy, and I pray for her spiritual and emotional healing. Also, like a natural miscarriage, an abortion causes physical and emotional trauma. A few days’ rest and recovery (and maybe even prayer) is well advised.
But we all know that “progress” usually involves taking a reasonable idea and driving it right off a cliff.
Yesterday, Boston swore in its new mayor, Michelle Wu. Prior to her elevation, Wu was a member of the Boston City Council. While there, she helped push through an amendment to the paid leave of Boston employees:
Docket #0481 amends the current ordinance by applying the paid parental leave benefit to parents that have experienced a loss of pregnancy. Passage of this ordinance would provide a paid parental leave benefit to city employees (parents) in the event of a natural birth by any method, adoption, surrogacy, and loss of pregnancy. Docket #0481 would also extend the paid parental leave to 12 weeks from six weeks.
The cognitive dissonance is deafening. Paid parental leave for a terminated pregnancy? Again, are we talking about a baby or a clump of cells? And twelve weeks of paid time off? Most mothers who actually give birth to a live baby don’t get anywhere near that much paid time off. Glad I’m not paying Beantown tax rates.
No doubt, we can expect more progressive municipalities to adopt similar policies, as will fellow-traveler woke corporations. And most likely, the new paid leave benefits will be housed within the “bereavement” or “parenting” categories—even as the same people pushing them insist they’re not talking about an actual baby.
And we can predict with a high degree of certainty that similar sad benefits are lurking in whatever version of the massive social spending bill Congressional Democrats are currently brewing up.