Belgium is the first in Europe to recognize the partner’s pain in the event of an early miscarriage

Belgium is the first in Europe to recognize the partner’s pain in the event of an early miscarriage
Belgium is the first in Europe to recognize the partner’s pain in the event of an early miscarriage
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On Friday, the Federal Council of Ministers gave the green light to the design of the new circumstance leave, which is comparable to minor absenteeism in private life. This gives women and their partners who work for the federal government two days of leave if their pregnancy ends before the term of 180 days, about six months. In the meantime, they keep their wages. The condition is that they had already reported the pregnancy to the employer.

The Belgian federal government is the first in Europe to recognize the partner’s pain in the event of an early miscarriage. Earlier this year, the Flemish government already introduced a similar leave for its civil servants, but only for pregnant women. Now the federal government is going one step further.

“A loss of pregnancy is hard,” says Minister of Civil Service Petra De Sutter (Green), herself a gynecologist. “It is important to acknowledge that pain. And if it concerns a couple who were pregnant, that pain also applies to the partner.”

Symbolic step

A fetus is considered viable in our country from 24 weeks onwards. From then on, both parents are entitled to ten days of bereavement leave after a miscarriage. After a period of 180 days, the woman and her partner are also entitled to maternity leave, maternity and parental leave. But if the child dies earlier, both have to take sick leave.

In itself, the scope of the expansion is limited. A total of 65,000 civil servants will be able to use the leave system. Moreover, two days is very short. Research from KU Leuven and Imperial College London showed that one month after an early miscarriage, almost a third of women suffer from post-traumatic stress. One in four reports anxiety and one in ten suffers from depression.

“Of course the number of days earlier is symbolic. The pain and sadness last much longer,” says De Sutter. “But there is often still a taboo surrounding pregnancy loss. With this I hope to break that taboo.”

Abortion file

Maud Vanwalleghem, ex-senator, writer and human rights activist, especially hopes that we use this to have a broader debate about how we deal with pregnancy loss and stillbirth. “Our legislation is full of pain points,” she says. “For example, women are not given maternity leave after a pregnancy period between 140 and 180 days, even though they still have to give birth. That experience is very difficult physically and psychologically.”

According to Vanwalleghem, the fact that parents have not yet been given the necessary rights is due to what she calls the elephant in the room: the political link to the abortion file. The more rights parents are given in the event of pregnancy loss, the more the fetus would have a face, and the more difficult it would be to extend the abortion term. “This entire file is being held hostage,” she says. “That link ignores the painful reality that people face in both situations.”

The article is in Dutch

Belgium

Tags: Belgium Europe recognize partners pain event early miscarriage

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