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October 26, 2023

Pressley, Duckworth Renew Push for Paid Leave for Families Experiencing Pregnancy Loss, Investments in Research to Improve Care

Bicameral bill would shine light on pregnancy loss, increase access to resources, workforce support and patient-centered care

Bill Text | Bill Summary

WASHINGTON — Today during Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) and Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) re-introduced the Support Through Loss Act to raise awareness about pregnancy loss—which too often goes underreported, with hopeful parents left to grieve in silence—and establish new paid leave benefits for workers across the nation who are experiencing painful, traumatic challenges while seeking to grow their family.

The bicameral legislation would increase access to resources and patient-centered care while providing 7 days of paid leave for all American workers if they experience some of the many challenges that hopeful parents face on the road to parenthood—including a miscarriage or an unsuccessful assisted reproductive technology procedure, adoption arrangement or surrogacy arrangement, or a medical diagnosis or event that impacts pregnancy or fertility.

“Maya Angelou once said ‘there is no greater agony than bearing an untold story.’ And today, due to cultural stigma and a lack of awareness, many families and many people suffer in silence when experiencing a pregnancy loss. This must change,” said Rep. Pressley. “People experiencing pregnancy loss should know that they are not alone and they deserve to be met with care, compassion, support, and paid leave. The Support Through Loss Act is long-overdue legislation that provides resources, workforce support, and patient-centered care to help families recover and heal. I am grateful to Senator Duckworth and our advocates for their ongoing partnership in crafting this critical legislation.”

“The decision to start a family can be so many things—thrilling, life-changing and carefully thought out—but the road to parenthood is not always easy and for many, it can be full of setbacks and disappointments,” said Sen. Duckworth. “My family faced our own heartbreaks and challenges when growing our family and I wouldn’t have my two girls today if it weren’t for the miracle of IVF. The Support Through Loss Act would provide so many hopeful parents with the time they need to grieve and heal when living through difficult losses, which is why I’m so proud to reintroduce this bill with Congresswoman Pressley to shine a light on these all-too-common experiences of families across the nation.”

At least 10-15% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage, but too often this common occurrence is underreported and unacknowledged. The Support Through Loss Act would also direct the Center for Disease Control to develop and disseminate public information regarding pregnancy loss and invest in long-overdue research with the National Institutes of Health.

Specifically, the Support Through Loss Act would:

  • Ensure employers provide at least seven days of paid leave for workers to process and address health—including mental health—needs following a pregnancy loss, an unsuccessful assisted reproductive technology procedure, a failed adoption arrangement, a failed surrogacy arrangement, or a medical diagnosis or event that impacts pregnancy or fertility.
  • Direct the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop and disseminate educational resources for the public regarding pregnancy loss and the range of treatment options for pregnancy loss, including recurrent pregnancy loss; and
  • Provides $45 million in annual funding for the National Institutes of Health to expand, intensify and coordinate federal research and programs with respect to pregnancy loss to help develop a better understanding of the problem and potentially suggest best practices to reduce pregnancy loss.

Along with Rep. Pressley, the Support Through Loss Act is originally cosponsored by U.S. House of Representatives Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-DE), Jamaal Bowman (NY-16), Barbara Lee (CA-12), Hank Johnson (GA-04), Jasmine Crockett (TX-30), Jonathan L. Jackson (IL-01), Shri Thanedar (MI-13), Andre’ Carson (IN-07), Andrea Salinas (OR-06), Brendan F. Boyle (PA-02), Judy Chu (CA-32), Cori Bush (MO-01), Chellie Pingree (ME-01), Glenn Ivey (MD-04), and Nikema Williams (GA-05).

Along with Sen. Duckworth, the Support Through Loss Act is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Bob Casey (D-PA), John Fetterman (D-PA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Tina Smith (D-MN) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

This legislation is supported by American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Bobbie, Building Military Families Network, Catholics for Choice, Center for Reproductive Rights, Family Values at Work Action, Family Values Network, In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda, Institute for Reproductive Grief, MANA: A National Latina Organization, March of Dimes, MomsRising, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, National Council of Jewish Women, National Partnership for Women & Families, National Women’s Law Center, Physicians for Reproductive Health, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Poppy Seed Health, Recurrent Pregnancy Loss Association, Reproductive Freedom for All, RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, RH Impact: The Collaborative for Equity & Justice, The National Domestic Violence Hotline, The National Women’s Health Network, URGE: Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity, What to Expect Project, Workplace Fairness, and American Academy of Family Physicians.

Full bill text can be found here and a summary can be found here.

Rep. Pressley and Sen. Duckworth first introduced the Support Through Loss Act in 2021.

As a founding member of the Black Maternal Health Caucus, Congresswoman Pressley has been a longtime champion of maternal health and reproductive justice and has led efforts in Congress to strengthen and expand paid leave protections.

  • Throughout her time in Congress, Congresswoman Pressley has convened roundtable meetings with maternal health advocates and practitioners in the Massachusetts 7th Congressional District.
  • In October 2023, Rep. Pressley and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) reintroduced the MOMMIES Act, legislation that would seek to improve maternal health outcomes, reverse the trend of rising maternal mortality rates, and close disparities that put Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities and their kids at greater risk.
  • In May 2023, Congresswoman Pressley and Congresswoman Gwen Moore (WI-04) introduced a resolution recognizing the role doulas play in providing culturally competent maternal health care, addressing racial inequities, and supporting healthier outcomes for mothers and their babies.
  • In May 2023, she reintroduced the Justice for Incarcerated Moms Act, legislation to improve maternal health care and support for pregnant individuals who are incarcerated, as part of the Momnibus legislative package. 
  • In December 2022, the House passed Congresswoman Pressley’s amendment to strengthen maternal health care for people who are incarcerated.
  • In September 2022, Rep. Pressley hosted HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra for a convening on their work to address the Black maternal health crisis and the criminalization of abortion care following the Dobbs decision.
  • In November 2021, at a briefing held by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR), Congresswoman Pressley delivered testimony on the growing racial disparities in maternal health and the urgent need to combat the Black maternal mortality crisis. Her full testimony at the briefing is available here.
  • In October 2021, Rep. Pressley and her colleagues urged President Biden to defend robust paid family and medical leave provisions in the ongoing negotiations over the Build Back Better Act. 
  • In April 2021, Rep. Pressley introduced the COVID-19 Safe Birthing Act, bold legislation to provide critical protections and access to care for pregnant people during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • In April 2020, Reps. Pressley and DeLauro, along with Senators Gillibrand (D-NY) and Patty Murray (D-WA), introduced the PAID Leave Act (Providing Americans Insured Days of Leave Act), a comprehensive emergency paid sick, paid family and medical leave bill to provide additional financial support to our nation’s most vulnerable workers and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic and future public health emergencies.
  • Rep. Pressley has also consistently called for expanded paid family and medical leave to be included in federal COVID-19 relief and infrastructure packages.