Senator Tammy Duckworth is recalling the “inhumane” experience of returning to work on the same day as her miscarriage.
During her appearance on People’s podcast Me Becoming Mom, the Illinois senator and mother of two opened up about her miscarriage amid her 2016 senate campaign in a culture that demands productivity at all costs. “I went to the doctor in the morning like I always did,” she said. “And that whole afternoon I had back-to-back meetings and things that I had to go to. So there was no break.”
Duckworth added, “And I’m a public official, so I was going to ribbon cuttings and giving speeches and talking to folks and inspecting hospital and all of that. So right back on my schedule.”
The 53-year-old senator said that even after her dilation and curettage (D&C), she felt compelled to work. “Even though we cleared my calendar for the day, I was still on the phone. There was no resting, you just kept on going,” she said. “It’s inhumane.”
In July, Duckworth also described the incident in a CBS News interview. “I found out in the morning I had a miscarriage and had to go back to work in the afternoon, and I really needed time to process,” she said. “It’s so deeply personal, that journey to parenthood for families, and to have to go back to work that same day and not be able to grieve…Or sometimes you need to pull your resources together and figure out what you’re going to do next and not have that time — to me it seems like this is something that’s an oversight when it comes to family leave policies.”
Duckworth is not the only high-profile person to head back to work after a pregnancy loss. In 2016, Halsey told Rolling Stone that she once suffered a miscarriage during a concert, then returned to the stage wearing an adult diaper and on pain medication. “It’s the angriest performance that I’ve ever done in my life,” Halsey told the outlet.
Without a national paid leave program, people who gave birth or who suffer pregnancy loss are often back at work before they are physically and emotionally ready.
In July, Duckworth introduced the “Support Through Loss Act” to allow “Americans to receive paid leave time to process and address their own health needs and the health needs of their partners during the period following a pregnancy loss.” It would also extend to those who have suffered “an unsuccessful round of intrauterine insemination or of an assisted reproductive technology procedure, a failed adoption arrangement, a failed surrogacy arrangement, or a diagnosis or event that impacts pregnancy or fertility.”
These other famous parents have been open about suffering miscarriages.