Lawmakers pressed to issue birth and death certificates for stillborns

News

February 17th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

(by O. Kay Henderson/Radio Iowa)

A southwest Iowa woman made a direct appeal to state lawmakers yesterday (Thursday) on behalf of other women whose babies have been stillborn. Mandy Ford of Clarinda supports legislation that would allow authorities to issue a birth certificate for stillborn babies. Under current law, a death certificate is issued. “No parent wants to hold the death certificate for their child, but that is the requirement in the law and that is what we must do,” Ford said. “But our other hand remains empty because we do not have a death certificate for our child.” On Thursday, Ford testified before a three-member House subcommittee, talking about the stillbirth of her third child last year.

“We will always have empty arms,” Ford said. According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, about two-hundred stillbirths are reported in Iowa each year. Thirty-two other states offer both a birth certificate and a death certificate to the parents of babies who are stillborn. State law calls it a miscarriage if the pregnancy lasted less than 20 weeks. The state representative who’s been named the bill’s manager in the House says he wants to make sure the proposal is fine-tuned and narrowly-focused so it doesn’t lead to a more wide-ranging debate about abortion.