New bill would allow bereavement for those suffering miscarriage or stillbirth
SALT LAKE CITY — A first-of-its-kind proposed bill will reach Utah’s Senate floor this week. SB63, Bereavement Leave Amendments, would add miscarriage and stillbirth to the state’s bereavement time.
Miscarriage is a heartbreak an estimated one in four women in the U.S. endure. Stillbirth is one in 160.
Sen. Wayne Harper’s bill would expand the state’s three days of bereavement definition to add mothers and their partners who are grieving after a miscarriage or stillbirth.
Harper, R-Taylorsville, got the idea after seeing New Zealand pass a similar law last year.
“I know some other states are seeing what Utah does with this bill to run similar bills in their states,” Harper said, acknowledging that this bill is one of the first of its kind in the U.S.
While Harper’s bill applies to city, county and state employees, he hopes this sets the example for businesses to follow.
“I hope this will send a message and others will voluntarily do it for other establishments,” he said.
Mothers who have lived the grief of losing an unborn child say it’s not so much about the three days of paid time off, but more about knowing they are supported during such a difficult time. Whereas now, mothers who are working full-time are forced to use sick days and paid time off after a miscarriage or stillbirth.
“If I wouldn’t have had time to sit with my husband and process and heal and talk about what had happened, I don’t think I could have just jumped back into the world as if nothing happened,” said Tayler Gallegos, who has endured multiple miscarriages.
Gallegos is in support of the bill and hopes this opens the conversation to more focus on women’s mental health and the challenges surrounding miscarriage and stillbirth.
“We were buying baby stuff, talking about if it was going to be a boy or a girl and names, and then, the miscarriage happened and it’s just so empty. It’s such an empty feeling,” she said.
The bill will go to the Senate floor on Tuesday.
Harper is encouraging those in support of the bill, or those who have concerns, to email their local representatives.
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