News Analysis Jan 7, 2022 7:14 PM EST

Democrat cities grant paid employee leave for abortions

"Maybe we should just sit on this until the end of June and leave the hot potato with the Supreme Court."

Democrat cities grant paid employee leave for abortions
Nick Monroe Cleveland, Ohio

The topic of paid abortion leave has already become a practice in several Democrat-led US cities. A renewed national focus on the topic came about in 2021—even on the federal level as the FDA under the Biden administration decided to make abortion pills by mail a permanent fixture.

The most recent developments on the abortion topic appear to be that a federal appeals court is likely to motion to send an appeal against the Texas abortion law to the state's Supreme Court, a move that's framed as delaying the case's resolution for months. "Maybe we should just sit on this until the end of June and leave the hot potato with the Supreme Court," said Judge Edith Jones.

But in the meantime elsewhere, according to the National Review, progressive cities like Portland, Oregon, and Boston, Massachusetts, have enacted policies that allow city workers to take paid time off after an abortion.

In Boston, its original pitch brought forward to the city council in March 2021 reframed the language as "Parents or would be parents may experience a loss of pregnancy that is not a still birth including a miscarrage or termination."

From there, the amendment turns the policy into giving paid time off of up to 12 weeks. The initiative was spearheaded by city council members Lydia Edwards and Michelle Wu, now the mayor of Boston after former Mayor Marty Walsh was picked by President Joe Biden to be the administration's Labor Secretary. Boston's updated policy was approved by November 2021 and gives employees four weeks of full pay, four weeks of 75 percent pay, and four weeks at 50 percent pay.

In Portland, city officials approved "bereavement leave" for employees who get abortions back in October of last year. In this particular instance, what the city council approved was giving employees three days off after a pregnancy loss that includes abortion "irrespective of whether deemed medically necessary."

Deliberations over the expansion of policy started on the topic of bereavement over family members in general, before finally focusing on pregnancy loss.

The National Catholic Register says places like Boston were among the first in the US to go all-in on this sort of policy change.

Other than the two examples mentioned, Pittsburgh is another blue jurisdiction to pass such paid leave policy. The National Catholic Register reported that an earlier version of Pittsburgh's policy included language that prevented employees from using bereavement time after an abortion. The version stated that "for the process of terminating a pregnancy, a City employee is barred from taking paid bereavement leave, and instead may choose to take medical leave."

Pittsburgh copies Portland in giving three immediate days off following an abortion procedure. Carol Tobias of the National Right to Life Committee notes that these cases were the better approach because Portland's and Pittsburgh's policies seem to acknowledge that "someone has died" in an abortion procedure.

The last big round of abortion-related news came at the beginning of December when the US Supreme Court heard arguments about Roe v. Wade amidst a lawsuit where Mississippi banned "nearly all" abortions after 15 weeks. SCOTUS also had to decide on litigation surrounding an abortion ban law put into place by Texas.

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