By Jonathon Van Maren
Every so often, a prominent person comes forward to share her story of miscarriage and the pain of losing a pre-born child. On July 20, 2019, Meghan McCain shared her grief in a New York Times editorial titled “What I learned from my miscarriage.” (Her husband, Ben Domenech, explored the loss in an extraordinary podcast episode A Year of Dying Gracefully.) The following year, Meghan Markle revealed that she and her husband had suffered the loss of their second child through miscarriage in a New York Times editorial titled “The losses we share.”
Each time this happens, feminists ask why it is that our society is so bad at recognizing the pain people suffer when they lose pre-born children. Commentators and pundits solemnly pretend that we don’t know the very obvious answer to this. If abortion, the destruction of a child in the womb, is a celebrated right, how can we validate the grief of women who lose children at the same stage at which millions are being aborted? If abortion activists are right, a miscarriage is simply a woman passing a clump of cells. If abortion activists are wrong, she has lost a child. Both cannot be true at the same time.
And so the news that New Zealand’s parliament has unanimously passed legislation giving the parents of children who pass away by miscarriage the right to paid leave—a bereavement allowance—is both encouraging news and sadly ironic. The bill was initiated by Labour Party MP Ginny Anderson, who stated that “The passing of this bill shows that once again New Zealand is leading the way for progressive and compassionate legislation, becoming only the second country in the world to provide leave for miscarriage and stillbirth. The bill will give women and their partners time to come to terms with their loss without having to tap into sick leave. Because their grief is not a sickness, it is a loss. And loss takes time.”