Boston Offering Its Employees 12 Weeks Of Paid Abortion Leave, Including Men

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If you’re employed by the City of Boston and you have an abortion or your child is aborted, you can now get up to 12 weeks of paid leave from your job.

That’s thanks to an amended version of the city’s paid leave ordinance that passed unanimously through a voice vote during a meeting of the Boston City Council on September 15, 2021. Boston’s acting mayor Kim Janey signed the ordinance on September 17 and it went into effect immediately, according to a spokesman for the mayor.

The city’s paid parental leave policy now includes 12 weeks of paid leave for both men and women for pregnancy loss, including all abortions for any reason.

The city council’s vote does not appear to have been reported by any news outlet until now.

The sponsors were city councilor Lydia Edwards, at-large city councilor Annissa Essaibi George (a recent candidate for mayor), and current mayor-elect Michelle Wu (an at-large city councilor at the time and currently).

Edwards spoke in favor of the new version of the ordinance during the city council meeting before it passed on September 15.

“It is a suggestion of compassion, it is a suggestion of acknowledging that many people on this path have encountered difficulties, and it’s an acknowledgement in modernizing our parental leave laws,” Edwards said.

While she didn’t go into depth during the September 15 meeting about the abortion aspect of the ordinance, she addressed abortion during a city council subcommittee meeting July 13.

A complete transcript of what Edwards said on that point during the July 13 meeting of the city council’s Committee on Operations is below. (It’s at 38:18 of the YouTube video of the meeting.)


I also wanted to make sure that I addressed a concern expressed to me. This — the point of having loss of pregnancy as a lead policy. This is for folks who are pro-choice and were concerned about a stigma being put on termination, or a sense that it is unhealthy or causes pain or causes immense amount of emotional turmoil. That is not the goal of this. In any way provide additional stigma or something about that, about the termination of a pregnancy — in any way, shape, or form.

I firmly believe what Councilor O’Malley said, what Councilor Mejia said, what the — Councilor Wu and Councilor Essaibi George — is that:  Employees know what they need, and they will express what they need. And we just want to make sure that we have the most compassionate laws to allow for people to say, “I need this” or “I don’t.” If a person terminates a pregnancy, and they do not need this leave, I don’t believe they’re gonna go and write this to you or abuse this policy. I believe they’re gonna move on with their lives — which is what they’re entitled to do, in any way, shape, or form.

And, if they at some point, as Councilor Mejia noted, need to take this leave, they are able to do so within a year. This is meant to just assume people have private lives, and that aspects of entering or exiting parenthood is impactful. That’s the whole goal. So I wanted to address this to those who may be watching and being concerned about a stigma.


U.S. Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-Dorchester), a former Boston city councilor who currently represents the state’s Seventh Congressional District in Congress, praised the passage of the ordinance in a press release the week it occurred.

“Pregnancy loss should be met with care, compassion, support, and paid leave, but far too many families suffer in silence due to the lack of awareness and cultural stigma — including those in the Massachusetts 7th,” Pressley said. “As we continue to make progress at the federal level to establish a universal paid leave program that supports families nationwide, I’m thrilled to see the Boston City Council lead on this issue locally. I am deeply grateful to Councilors Edwards, Wu and Essaibi George, and the organizers and advocates for their efforts to expand these critical protections to City employees. I also applaud Councilor O’Malley’s testimony and continued advocacy on this issue.”

Massachusetts Citizens for Life executive director Patricia Stewart said that the move surprisingly reinforces a pro-life view of abortion.

“Ironically, the grant of abortion leave reinforces the pro-life view that abortion is a serious medical choice with potentially life-altering consequences for a woman’s physical, emotional, and psychological health,” Stewart told NewBostonPost in an email message. “Liberals’ acknowledgement of this truth may have the unintended effect of causing more women to rethink an abortion decision and save a baby’s life. Or, so we can hope.”

The expanded paid leave enacted this year applies to workers meet all of these criteria:


1. The employee has been employed by the City of Boston in a benefits-eligible position for at least 12 consecutive months or 52 consecutive weeks without any break in service;

2. The employee has been in pay status for at least 1250 hours in the preceding 12-month period;

3. The employee is either (a) not covered by a collective bargaining agreement or (b) is covered by a collective bargaining agreement
through: AFSCME; AFSCME 1526; Boston Park Rangers Association;
Boston Police Detective Benevolent Society, Forensics Group; IAFF;
New York Typographical Union, CWA Local 14156; PSA; AFSCME;

4. The employee will experience an Event on or after the effective date of this Paid Parental Leave Policy.


The original paid leave scheme went into effect on May 1, 2021.

The city’s paid leave scheme offers employees 100 percent of their base wages during the first four weeks of leave, then 75 percent for the next four weeks, and 50 percent for the last four weeks of leave.

Essaibi George and Wu could not be reached for comment on Friday or Monday.

The complete policy is available below:

Paid Parental Leave


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