A proposal to expand eligibility for paid leave is being described by one New Jersey lawmaker as "crazy."

It goes too far, he says, and launches a potentially problematic debate over what is and what is not a traumatic life event.

Under a bill advanced on Thursday by the Assembly Labor Committee, individuals in New Jersey would be able to use the state's Family Leave Insurance or Temporary Disability Insurance to miss work and get paid in the event that they lose a child.

That "loss" includes a miscarriage or a stillbirth, as well as a pregnancy that's terminated for medical reasons.

Currently, family leave in New Jersey is open to workers who want to bond with a newborn, care for a sick loved one, or handle issues related to domestic violence. Workers can use temporary disability for their own physical or mental health condition.

Bereavement leave isn't an automatic from employers, and those that do offer bereavement may not include a failed birth.

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Assemblyman Brian Bergen, R-Morris, was the only lawmaker on the panel to vote against the proposed law. He's adamantly against the segment of the bill that also allows the cash benefits to be used by individuals who've had a failed adoption or experienced unsuccessful fertility treatment.

"I would hope that we would narrow this down to things that are really big, awful life events, like a miscarriage," Bergen said. "An unsuccessful adoption? I mean, come on. We're getting crazy."

If this change were to be made law, it could open the door to more expansion down the road, he said.

"A divorce, for example — a traumatic leave, not covered under family leave," Bergen said.

In response, Assemblywoman Garnet Hall, D-Essex, said failed adoptions and fertility attempts do deserve to be part of the bill — the psychological effects need time to heal. The adoption process, she said, can last several months.

"When those unifications don't happen, it is very traumatic and devastating for all parties, including extended families," Hall said.

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