In an interesting turn of events, New Zealand has become the second country to pass bereavement legislation allowing parents who lose a baby by means of stillbirth or miscarriage to take leave from work. The legislation permits mothers, their partners and parents who are planning to have a child through adoption or surrogacy to take three days of bereavement leave without being forced to use holiday or sick leave. The bill, brought forth by Labour MP Ginny Andersen, passed unanimously thus becoming law. The only other country to have such a law is India, which provides six weeks of leave for a woman if she miscarries a baby. The UK and Ontario, a province of Canada, also have provisions for paid leave in place in the case that a woman has a stillbirth.
What is intriguing about the passing of this bill in New Zealand is that, despite their proclivity to extreme abortion laws (extreme in the sense that they allow abortions to occur for practically any reason at any time of the pregnancy), New Zealand’s politicians have essentially acknowledged the lives of the unborn. In fact, they have practically recognized that these are no mere fetuses or clumps of cells, but human lives from conception. Although they are still sticking to their guns with abortion.
Upon closer inspection, the Holidays (Bereavement Leave for Miscarriage) Amendment Bill (No 2) includes two specific definitions, one for ‘miscarriage’ and one for ‘stillbirth’. They read as follows:
Miscarriage means the end of a pregnancy in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy other than as a result of abortion services provided in accordance with the Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion Act 1977.
Still-birth means a still-birth within the meaning of the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act 1995 other than as a result of abortion services provided in accordance with the Contraception, Sterilisation, and Abortion Act 1977.
To simplify it a little further, under New Zealand’s Bereavement Leave law, a miscarriage is the loss of a baby in the first 20 weeks of a pregnancy, and a still-birth is the loss of a baby thereafter. The definitions also stipulate that one is only entitled to this bereavement leave if the baby passes before birth as a result of natural causes. They are not entitled to leave if they have an abortion. This is interesting for several reasons.
First, it appears the New Zealand government has no concern for those who access abortion. Now, while I make no secret of being against abortion, I still recognize that it can be tremendously taxing on a woman, especially in terms of their mental health. After all, they are experiencing the loss of a child, be it by their own choice or the choice of someone else on their behalf (eg. their parent who does not want them to have a child at a young age), which should never occur, but still does. So, there is an apparent lack of empathy on the part of the NZ government, but that should come as no surprise given their support for abortion.
Second, it would appear that the NZ government has recognized that unborn babies constitute human life. However, paradoxically, they still seem to be hung up on this, considering no leave is granted to those who have an abortion. So, it appears the government is at a crossroads of sorts, acknowledging unborn babies are human lives, but only in certain circumstances. Therein lies the evil.
Now let me make myself perfectly clear, I take no issue with this bill with regards to it providing time off for parents to grieve the loss of a child before its birth. Indeed, there are people I know personally who have experienced such tragic losses, and they deserve nothing but compassion at such times.
What I do find immensely troubling is the government’s proclivity to play God with human life. In deciding that the lives of the unborn should only be observed in some circumstances, in this case miscarriages and still-births, and not others (or really, one other, that being abortion), they have made themselves the arbiters of when human life should be recognized. No human being should have such a power.
Now some may say I am biased on this issue, given I am a Catholic. And from a Catholic perspective, I see abortion as wrong considering it is the destruction of God’s creation. But my religion should not render my thoughts on this matter invalid. In fact, you do not have to be religious to see that abortion is wrong. At its heart, it is not a religious issue; it is a moral one.
It is immoral to take a human life, especially one that is so innocent. Every baby in the womb should be given every chance to live, to survive, to have a life of its own. We are in no place to judge whether or not they should have that opportunity. Every human being on this planet has a God-given right to life. No-one should have that taken away from them simply because they are an inconvenience to someone else (which often the reason for abortions).
New Zealand have, to some degree, done something right here. But they have also chosen to take it upon themselves to determine which unborn babies technically constitute human life and thus possess the right to be born. From a moral standpoint, each and every unborn baby has the right to life. We were all once where they were, and we were all born, so why shouldn’t they be?
As the great US President Ronald Reagan once said:
“I’ve noticed that everyone who is for abortion has already been born.”
It is indeed ironic that we, the already born, are trying to prevent others from being given that same gift.
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Joel Agius is a young Catholic Conservative writer currently studying journalism and creative writing with Griffith University. He writes on freedom, religion and the human condition, mainly focusing on the Australian and US social and political scenes. He also volunteers as a Special Religious Education teacher in State primary schools, and occasionally contributes to The Spectator. You can find him on Twitter or read his work over at his blog. If you would like to support his work, you can click here.