By Gisselle Zaragoza
This Wednesday, New Zealand approved new legislation in which couples who are unfortunate enough to go through a miscarriage are now entitled to a three-day paid leave. While a similar form of legislation was previously in place, the difference now is who will be eligible.
Previously, a woman would only be eligible for the 20-week mark in the pregnancy and beyond. This new legislation confirms that people would be eligible at any point in the pregnancy.
This is undoubtedly a huge step forward for women’s rights and mental health awareness.
I can personally say that this was not an issue I considered before now, especially the effects of a traumatic miscarriage. Miscarriages and failed pregnancies are sure to take a toll on the parents expecting to meet their new child.
Approximately 20 percent of women who experience a miscarriage show signs of depression. For most of these women, the symptoms persist for about three years, and it is often noted that the spouse is as equally affected by this loss as the person carrying the child.
This legislation makes it so that there is a bit of time offered for the couple to process and cope. While it is only three days, those three days following the loss may be among the hardest––focusing on work should be the last thing on their minds.
By eliminating the limitation of only allowing this paid leave for those 20 weeks or more into their pregnancy, the newly reformed legislation validated all pregnancies. However, one of the few restrictions that stood out is that women who chose to have an abortion are ineligible.
This limitation of not including abortions shows that this legislation is not a permanent, inclusive solution because abortions should be included to some extent. Each woman has their own reasoning as to why they choose to undergo this procedure; some may be just as emotionally distressed and scarred as women who’ve experienced a miscarriage. This is something that will hopefully be addressed in the following years as reform continues.
Although it may be easy for some to simply ask for the days off, others may not have the financial luxury of such a choice. They may have to work through the trauma that is likely to negatively impact their mental health beyond the three days.
New Zealand would be the first country in the world to provide this option for its people. Other countries, such as India, have implemented similar legislation but only for the woman carrying. This legislation is different in that it includes the spouse of the woman carrying.
While it may take more than three days to heal from the pain of miscarrying, it is a start that may make a much-needed difference. It’s not a solution, but it’s something that other countries, including the U.S., should take note of.
Even though this legislation is not quite a law, it is expected to become one soon. Even though companies within the country have already been providing this option for their workers, transforming it into law will make it mandatory for companies to offer their employees paid leave.
As the world continues to change and become more aware of issues that may have previously had a stigma attached to them, it’s become evident that there is still much work to be done. As long as we continue to support and expand on progressive ideas such as these, we can continue to progress and modernize our system to match the unspoken issues at hand.
Gisselle Zaragoza is a third-year Political Science-Public Service major with a minor in Chicanx Studies. She is originally from Las Vegas, Nevada and is pursuing a career in immigration law. She is one of the Opinion Editors for the Davis Vanguard at UC Davis.
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