It is shocking that a Labour MP’s private members bill which allowed for bereavement leave for a miscarriage has been withdrawn and resubmitted, in seemingly a deliberate attempt to exclude post-abortive women who may also be suffering grief and loss.
The wording of a woman who qualifies for bereavement leave under the proposed legislative change was when there had been an “unplanned death of a foetus”. This has now been changed to “unplanned end of a pregnancy by miscarriage or still-birth” in order to exclude a woman who has had an abortion.
When lodging the original bill, Labour MP Ginny Anderson said, “I think [abortion] would be [grounds], but I would like this Member’s Bill to pass.”
But all women matter. The loss and grief experienced by parents as a result of miscarriage absolutely deserves recognition, but so too does the loss and grief resulting from abortion which is experienced by many women. These women shouldn’t be dismissed, because of a few that say it was the right decision for them to abort. This appears to be a change of heart from the Member because she doesn’t want it to be acknowledged that for many women, they are significantly affected by having an abortion, both in the short term and long term.
There are many factors that contribute to this life changing choice. It’s about allowing those that are deeply affected by their abortion to feel safe to seek the help they need without judgement. I know from my own experience and from testimonies of many women who have contacted me through the Buttons Project that they often have suffered in silence and are thankful that their abortion loss can be acknowledged and their feelings of grief & loss validated. A person begins to heal the moment they feel heard.
Bereavement leave for both miscarriages (often referred to by medical specialists as ‘spontaneous abortion) and abortions would allow women the opportunity to seek the support and counselling that they may need at this time. We should never under-estimate the grief and loss that a woman personally experiences from either a miscarriage or an abortion.
This resubmitted bill is simply an attempt to ignore or minimise the fact that some women experience grief and loss, and that a post-abortive woman doesn’t deserve any support. But I know that many are desperate for that support. All women matter.