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Bauer: Hoosier families deserve parental bereavement leave

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INDIANAPOLIS - State Rep. Maureen Bauer (D-South Bend) issued the column below today for publication:

No parent should ever have to fear losing their job after suffering the unimaginable loss of a child. To address the trauma associated with child loss, and to offer working families the time and space to grieve, heal and process the loss, Indiana should pass bereavement leave legislation.

I have introduced House Bill (HB) 1244 to ensure that grieving parents can take the time off work, without fear of penalty or retaliation, to mourn the loss of a child. This includes miscarriage and stillbirth.

The bill also codifies Governor Holcomb’s executive order issuing paid bereavement and parental leave for executive level public employees, including three days of paid funeral leave. The executive order also provides 150 hours of parental leave after the birth or adoption of a child. HB 1244 will add stillbirth into this coverage, will expand the leave policy to all public employees﹘including educational institutions﹘and will cover miscarriage. 

All other businesses with 50+ employees, subject to FMLA law, will provide 10 work days of unpaid leave after the loss of a child.

The United States is one of six countries that does not offer any form of national paid leave.

In Indiana, an average of 502 children are lost to stillbirth a year, and one in four pregnancies end in miscarriage.

Indiana ranks fourteenth in the country for infant mortalities. In 2019, 525 infants died before their first birthday in the state. Black infant mortality rose in 2020 in Indiana, and its disproportionate impact must be addressed in policy. 

Access to healthcare continues to be a barrier, with 55% of the state in a child care desert. 33 Indiana counties lack childbirth services, requiring a day off work just to drive to the neighboring county for a checkup. 

Until we fix this, the risk of infants lost to pregnancy complications remains.

The state of Indiana has the ability to support employees through the grieving process to ensure their needs are met during a traumatic time. The failure to create a dignified system of care that strengthens families as they navigate through the uncertainties of life is not in line with Hoosier family values. 

It's essential that we address the trauma associated with child loss, and allow families the space to heal, through guaranteed parental bereavement leave after the loss of a child in Indiana.

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