MP emotional during paid miscarriage leave plea: ‘Forgive me if I take a minute'

UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor Handout photo issued by UK Parliament of Angela Crawley during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London. Picture date: Wednesday July 7, 2021.
Angela Crawley has called for paid miscarriage leave for well over a year. (PA Media)

MP Angela Crawley has called on the UK government to bring in paid leave for people who have experienced miscarriage.

Crawley of the Scottish National Party says her miscarriage bill seeks to give three days paid leave for parents who who have had a miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy or molar pregnancy before 24 weeks.

Speaking in the House of Commons on 6 July, she said, "For any expectant parent this is a devastating experience and one that is often further compounded by the stigma and shame of miscarriage

"For some families it may be an experience that happens more than once, compounding the trauma of their loss."

At the moment, there is no legal right to paid leave for parents suffering from the loss of pregnancy before 12 weeks.

Read more: Sharon Stone says she 'lost 9 children' through miscarriage: 'It's no small thing'

"While there are increasing numbers of organisations, including ASOS, Monzo, the Scottish Government and others who have adopted paid miscarriage leave policies, sadly not all employers are as generous and most employers who do not have the means to do so, will not do so," she said.

She emphasised that the majority of employers will not offer such a policy without employment legislation.

"This means that many are suffering alone in silent grief following their pregnancy loss without the support that they need," she added.

Woman suffering from a miscarriage. (Getty Images)
Miscarriage can be a "devastating experience" made worse by "stigma and shame". (Getty Images)

Crawley hopes that the UK, rather than relying on the generosity of employers, follows the "groundbreaking legislation" in New Zealand and give all workers three days paid leave in the event of miscarriage.

She referenced support for the bill, including from organisations like Miscarriage Association, Ectopic Pregnancy Trust, and the more than 40,000 who have signed a petition calling for paid miscarriage leave.

As one in four pregnancies will end in miscarriage, Crawley said "this is not a minority issue, and it's not a niche concern, this bill could benefit a million people each year".

Under current UK legislation workers are entitled to two weeks of paid bereavement leave following a still birth after 24 weeks of pregnancy, which she says she is reminded of often.

"However, no parent who loses a baby at 23 weeks and 6 days will somehow be comforted be comforted by the minister's reliance on this arbitrary line in the sand," she said.

"It offers nothing to grieving parents who have lost a baby before that 24-week mark and it fails to recognise their grief and their loss."

This leaves many having to rely on sick leave or unpaid leave if they feel they are unable to return to work after a pregnancy loss.

"It is simply not good enough."

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Sad man at home. (Getty Images)
All parents grieving from a miscarriage deserve the support they need. (Getty Images)

Visibly emotional, Crawley paused and said directly, "Madam deputy speaker I have worked on this issue for well over a year and longer and it never gets easier to speak about these issues so forgive me if I take a minute."

She continued, "Suffering miscarriage is not an illness, it is a loss and it can be traumatic for expectant parents and sick leave alone fails to recognise that their grief is no less worthy of time to grieve."

On what people who experience a miscarriage feel, she mentioned both the "physical pain of the contractions" and the heart wrenching agony of losing a child".

"A child whose face may have been glimpsed on a scan, they [parents] may have known if it was a boy or a girl, chosen a name, a nursery...," she added. "They're hopes and dreams crushed in that moment."

Crawley described the issue as not being tied to independence (with plans for a second Scottish independence referendum given an October date) or an issue reserved to one side of the house or the other.

Read more: Miscarriage: Why it happens, how it feels and where to find support

"I am standing here asking for a fairly small provision, less than I would like, and less than most parents should expect, but a start," she said.

She added, "If you remember of this house it is likely you have around 400 constituents who will experience a miscarriage this year alone. They may be crossing their fingers and hoping that this house finally does the right thing. Let's not disappoint them."

Crawley had previously Tweeted in December 2021, "Today my Bill in Parliament will call on the UK Govt to introduce at least 3 days paid leave for parents who experience miscarriage. No parent should face a financial penalty, while they process the grief of their loss, that’s why we must have #PaidMiscarriageLeave."

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As well as the one in four who experience miscarriage, about one in 100 in the UK experience recurrent miscarriages (three or more in a row), Tommy's Pregnancy Hub reports.

They can happen to anyone who is able to get pregnant.

However, for those who do have recurrent miscarriages, more than six in 10 women still go on to have a successful pregnancy.

An ectopic pregnancy, when when a fertilised egg implants itself outside of the womb, usually in one of the fallopian tubes, can be serious, and it's important to get medical advice right away.

For more information visit this NHS website page on miscarriage, this one on ectopic pregnancy, and this on molar pregnancy.

If you or someone you know has been affected by miscarriage, you can call The Miscarriage Association's helpline on 01924 200799, email or visit its pregnancy loss forum.

You should also speak to your GP if you are struggling after miscarriage.

You can also contact The Ectopic Pregnancy Trust via this form or call on 020 7096 1838.