Miscarriage Bereavement Leave Should Include Post-Abortion

Media Release 9 August 2018
Family First NZ is welcoming and supporting a private members bill which allows for bereavement leave for a miscarriage, but says that the leave should be extended to also cover post-abortion bereavement leave.

“We absolutely support this private members bill. A miscarriage has a huge effect on a couple and bereavement leave is entirely appropriate. However, abortion grief is also the ‘elephant in the room’ and these women shouldn’t be dismissed, because of a few that say it was the right decision for them to abort. There are many factors that contribute to this life changing choice. Its 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,” says Marina Young, spokesperson for Family First NZ

Family First questions why the private members bill only uses the term ‘foetus’ when a discussion with any woman who has had a miscarriage will often use terms ‘baby’ and ‘death’.

“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.”

A recent research paper “Abortion and the Physical and Mental Health of Women – A review of the evidence for health professionals” reviewed international evidence to date about the relationship between abortion and the physical and mental health of women and said that abortion is associated with a wide range of adverse physical and psychological outcomes.

The research suggests that ambivalence to abortion is common and is linked to some adverse post-abortion outcomes. Intimate partner violence (IPV) is also strongly correlated with abortion, with some research showing a 6-fold increase of IPV in women undergoing abortion compared to those in antenatal care. Presentation for abortion may be an opportunity to address the risk of coercion and intimate partner violence. Bereavement leave would provide the time and opportunity for women to seek the necessary support.

A University of Otago study in 2008 found that women who had an abortion faced a 30% increase in the risk of developing common mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. And a research paper entitled “Does abortion reduce the mental health risks of unwanted or unintended pregnancy? A re-appraisal of the evidence” by Professor David Fergusson, John Horwood, and Joseph Boden published in the 2013 edition of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry concluded that the evidence shows that abortion was not associated with a reduction in rates of mental health problems, but was associated with increases in risks of anxiety, alcohol and drug misuse, and suicidal behaviour.
ENDS