New Zealand Unanimously Votes to Give Couples Who Suffer Pregnancy Loss Paid Time Off to Recover
"While this bill is primarily about fairness and workers' rights, I also hope that it promotes openness in our society about pregnancy, stillbirth and miscarriage," the lawmaker behind the legislation said.
New Zealand on Wednesday unanimously passed a law — thought to be one of the first of its kind in the world — extending paid leave to couples who experience pregnancy loss.
The law expands existing legislation that gave paid time off for those who suffered a stillbirth, according to The New York Times.
New Zealand parents can now receive three days of paid leave no matter when a pregnancy is lost, including miscarriages and stillbirth.
The new law will apply to mothers and their partner and to couples preparing to adopt or have a child via surrogacy, The New Zealand Herald reports.
Ginny Andersen, a member of the country's Labour Party, introduced the measure and tweeted afterward that she was "proud to have made a change for good."
"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, 46, told the Times.
About 10-20 percent of pregnancies end in a loss, according to New Zealand's Ministry of Health, which says such complications are "fairly common."
The statistics are similar in the U.S., where the Mayo Clinic estimates roughly two out of 10 pregnancies end in pregnancy loss.
Andersen told the Times that New Zealand "may well be the first country" to extend paid leave in this way.
India grants a six-week bereavement period, though most workers in the country don't qualify for the time off, according to The Guardian.
In the U.K., a mother who suffers a miscarriage after the 24-week mark can receive time off, the Guardian reports. In Australia, a mother is eligible for paid time off if the miscarriage happens after 12 weeks.
The U.S. has no such policy.
During the final read-thru of the bill on Wednesday, Andersen opened up about her personal connection to the issue. She said that her mother had had two miscarriages.
"She was always open to me about what she went through, both mentally and physically," Andersen said. "While this bill is primarily about fairness and workers' rights, I also hope that it promotes openness in our society about pregnancy, stillbirth and miscarriage."
The lawmaker said "the grief that comes with miscarriage is not a sickness."
"It is a loss," she added. "And that loss takes time — time to recover physically and time to recover mentally."
This story originally appeared on people.com