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A new bill could provide paid leave after pregnancy loss

July 26, 2021, 1:03 PM UTC
U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth leaves the Senate chamber after a vote with her newborn baby daughter Maile at the U.S. Capitol on April 26, 2018.
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 26: U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) leaves the Senate Chamber after a vote with her newborn baby daughter Maile Pearl Bowlsbey at the U.S. Capitol on Take Your Daughters and Sons To Work Day, April 26, 2018 in Washington, DC. Duckworth became the first senator to give birth while in office while Maile became the first newborn allowed onto the Senate floor during a vote. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Chip Somodevilla—Getty Images

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Good morning, Broadsheet readers! The Olympics get going, a new prime minister is set to take office in Samoa, and Congress could take action to support people through pregnancy loss. Have a great Monday.

– A new kind of paid leave. Last week, a topic that’s often kept close to the vest got time on the national stage: miscarriage.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth and Rep. Ayanna Pressley, both Democrats, introduced new legislation that would provide paid leave for people who experience pregnancy loss. It’s a new idea in the U.S., but one that’s already seen progress in other parts of the world; New Zealand’s parliament passed a bill providing bereavement leave after miscarriage in March and India was one of the first countries to implement a similar policy in the 1960s.

Stateside, we seem to be at a disadvantage. When the U.S. doesn’t even have guaranteed paid family leave for new parents after childbirth or adoption, how likely is it we’ll succeed in creating paid leave for pregnancy loss?

Duckworth and Pressley, however, won’t let that dissuade them from fighting for this important issue. The bill doesn’t have bipartisan support yet, but Duckworth told Fortune in an interview that she plans to use the same strategies she employed to get Republican colleagues to sign onto her legislation making lactation rooms more accessible to breastfeeding moms. (She first approached GOP senators who are also doctors.) She also expects the Support Through Loss Act, as the pregnancy loss leave proposal is called, would be part of a bigger paid leave package.

“I didn’t want any other families to go through what I went through,” Duckworth says of what’s inspired her to pursue the legislation, which started as a passion project for one of her Senate office staffers. The senator has spoken about her own miscarriage as she pursued IVF and how she went back to work almost immediately after having a dilation and curettage procedure.

“I really needed time to deal with it that I didn’t get,” she says. “If that was my case in a fairly privileged position as a U.S. senator, what are families going through?”

Emma Hinchliffe
emma.hinchliffe@fortune.com
@_emmahinchliffe

The Broadsheet, Fortune’s newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women, is coauthored by Kristen Bellstrom, Emma Hinchliffe, and Claire Zillman. Today’s edition was curated by Emma Hinchliffe

ALSO IN THE HEADLINES

- Let the Games begin. The Olympics are kicking into high gear with a few major stories so far: the German women's gymnastics team competed in their full-length unitards, meant to take a stand against sexualization of women and girls in the sport. Naomi Osaka returned to the global stage following her media pause as she lit the Olympic cauldron. The South Korean women's archery team broke a 25-year-old record as they eye the longest gold medal streak for a team event. Thirteen-year-old Momiji Nishiya became Japan's youngest gold medal winner in history after winning women's street skateboarding. And Australia's Ariarne Titmus bested Katie Ledecky for gold in the women's 400-meter freestyle.  

- Fenced in. A BuzzFeed investigation finds that Alen Hadzic, a fencer on the U.S. Olympic team, was accused multiple times of sexual assault. Six women on the U.S. fencing team told the Olympic committee that he should not be permitted to compete and that they felt unsafe. Hadzic was instead allowed to travel to Tokyo as a team alternate with a "safety plan" in place keeping him separated from female teammates. (He's denied the allegations.) BuzzFeed

- A real WFH perk. One benefit of working from home? Many Black women say they've dealt with far fewer microaggressions while outside of the office (or had space and privacy at home to process the ones that still happened virtually). Now, they're not eager to return to an office setting. Washington Post

- Crisis averted? Samoa is finally set to get its first female prime minister after a court legally brought to a close a monthslong constitutional crisis over the country's recent election. Fiame Naomi Mata'afa was declared the rightful winner against the prime minister of 20 years Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi. NPR

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: McKesson chief information officer and chief technology officer Nancy Flores joins the board of Element. Tanzina Vega stepped down as host of WNYC's The Takeaway. 

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

- Post lawsuit. Washington Post reporter Felicia Sonmez is suing her employer, former editor Marty Baron, and several more Post editors, saying she was subject to discrimination after revealing her status as a victim of sexual assault. Sonmez, a politics reporter, was prohibited by the paper from covering any stories that related to the issue; in her lawsuit, she says she suffered "economic loss, humiliation, embarrassment, mental and emotional distress" because of the ban. Baron declined to comment and the Post did not have any comment. CNN

- Diaper bank. More states are funding programs to provide diapers to families as diaper prices rise (up 12% from 2019). The policies often also fund period products. Joanne Samuel Goldblum, founder of the National Diaper Bank Network, calls the long-sought state action on the issue "monumental." Wall Street Journal

- Inside the investigation. The FBI revealed more details about how the agency conducted its investigation of the sexual assault allegations against now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation process. (Kavanaugh has denied the allegations.) The FBI says it received 4,500 tips about Kavanaugh and forwarded "relevant" ones to the Trump White House. As part of the investigation, the FBI conducted only 10 supplemental interviews. NBC News

ON MY RADAR

A personal history of the C-section New York Times

The true story of the women who made The Daily Show—and were erased from its legacy LA Times

Argentina formally recognizes nonbinary people, a Latin America first New York Times

PARTING WORDS

"I don't try to think about the elephant in the room, because it distracts you from your purpose." 

-Music producer TRAKGIRL on her efforts to get more women into producing, despite the low numbers of women in the field. Only 2% of Billboard Hot 100 songs in 2020 were produced by women.

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