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Top Republicans on the Hill will introduce legislation Thursday that seeks to advance protections for families dealing with the loss of an infant through miscarriage or stillbirth by utilizing the federal child tax credit.
Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and Rep. Ashley Hinson, R-Iowa, introduced the HEALING Mothers and Fathers Act as an amendment to the 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) by adding “spontaneous loss of an unborn child” as a qualifying medical condition.
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The amendment would mean that mothers and their spouses would be permitted to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in a one-year period without fear of job loss.
Hinson, who reflected on her personal experience of giving birth as “joyous occasions,” told Fox News she realized there was a need for federal protections to assist families struggling with infant loss.
The Iowa Republican said not only did her work with March of Dime and No Foot Too Small – nonprofit organizations that focus on mother and infant health – show her family assistance was lacking, but she said she has personally met with mothers struggling with their loss.
“I think this is the right answer from the federal policy perspective to make sure family leave policy is updated for those who lose their babies, so they can take leave from work and recover and properly mourn the loss,” Hinson told Fox News.
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Some women who miscarry still have to go through the labor process — an experience that is not only emotionally challenging but that leaves families with high medical bills and potentially added funeral costs.
“The loss of an unborn child is a tragic moment for many families and I’ve heard from some families across Arkansas, who have had a miscarriage or stillbirths, those parents obviously suffer a great emotional toll,” Cotton told Fox News. “But they also have practical economic losses as well.”
The amendment would allow mothers or couples who endure an infant loss to collect the current child tax credit of $3,600 to help cover the financial burden the parents still faced.
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“In many cases that should be enough to offset those economic costs of pregnancy and miscarriage or stillbirth, to include things like furnishing a nursery, buying clothes and supplies, paying unexpected medical bills, and even having to pay for a funeral or burial costs.”
The bill is expected to receive Democratic backing and lawmakers are hopeful the nature of the bill will garner rare bipartisan support.
“I know someone in Iowa who just went through this,” Hinson told Fox News. “I’m hopeful we’ll be able to build support in a coalition across the aisle and get this across the finish line.”