From the moment you start to plan for a family, all your hopes and dreams become swaddled up in the possibility of having a baby. A positive pregnancy test brings huge excitement and expectation that a new life is on the way.
Tragically, however, one in every four pregnancies ends in miscarriage. After such a loss, the feelings of grief and heartache never leave for the mother, father and family affected. For some, the stigma around pregnancy loss means it will never be spoken about, and many feel they are unable to grieve their loss properly.
On 3 December, parliament will be given the opportunity to take a step towards ending the stigma associated with miscarriage and give any family the time they may need to grieve the loss of their baby. My private members’ bill to introduce three days of paid leave for parents who experience miscarriage before 24 weeks of pregnancy will be given a second reading in the House of Commons.
Currently in the UK, a parent who experiences a miscarriage after 24 weeks is entitled to two weeks’ paid leave – but there is nothing for those who experience the loss of a bay before that.
I have received tonnes of correspondence on this issue from fathers, from mothers and from families who have experienced miscarriage, and they often speak of the stigma or shame attached to experiencing miscarriage.
Every pregnancy loss is different and there is no right or wrong way to feel about it, but current legislation falls short of allowing some parents the right to grieve properly. Every year, thousands of families in the UK go through this heartache without any government support.
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At the start of November, more than 50 MPs from nine different parties – including the Conservatives – supported our campaign by putting their names to a cross-party letter to prime minister Boris Johnson urging him to back the bill. This is proof, if ever it were needed, that there is a clear consensus at Westminster for supporting people who experience miscarriage and for ending the stigma associated.
By supporting my bill, the UK government can take a giant leap towards supporting grieving parents and finally ending the stigma associated with miscarriage.
Other countries, including New Zealand, have written similar provisions into law and in September, Australia became the latest country to adopt paid miscarriage leave. It is time for the UK government to step up to the plate and provide the support these families need. It is time for paid miscarriage leave.
Angela Crawley is a Scottish National Party politician. She was first elected as MP for Lanark and Hamilton East in 2015 and has served as the SNP shadow attorney general since 2021
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