Around New England

Paid Abortion Leave Shouldn’t Put ‘Stigma’ On Abortion, Boston City Councilor Says

August 27, 2021

Just because some women who have an abortion may ask the city of Boston for paid leave doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with abortion, a Boston city councilor said recently.

Lydia Edwards, a city councilor who supports expanding paid leave benefits for city employees to include women who have abortions, said she has heard rumblings from people who support legal abortion.

Edwards made the comments July 13 near the end of a meeting of a subcommittee she chairs, the Boston City Council’s Committee on Government Operations.

Earlier in the meeting, several city councilors expressed support for expanding eligibility for the city’s existing paid leave benefit, although most who spoke about it did not specifically mention abortion.

Councilors who spoke in favor of expanding paid leave during the July 13 meeting include Ed Flynn, Matt O’Malley, Michelle Wu, Annissa Essaibi George, and Julia Mejia. (Of those, Wu and Essaibi George are running for mayor in the September 14 preliminary election. O’Malley is the current city council president.)

Edwards addressed an objection to the policy she said she has heard.

A complete transcript of what Edwards said on that point follows. (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.


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