Mothers Of Stillborn Babies Join Legislators Senator Eric Adams And Assemblywoman Janele Hyer-spencer To Urge That Public Health Law Be Amended To Authorize A Special Birth Certificate For Stillbirths

Eric Adams

June 15, 2008

New York State Senator Eric Adams (D, Brooklyn) and Assemblywoman Janele Hyer-Spencer will hold a Fathers Day press conference with mothers who have delivered “stillborn” babies.  At the press conference, the legislators and family members will urge passage of a bill directing the Department of Health to establish a new “certificate of birth resulting in stillbirth” (CBRS).

Senator Adams states:    “Under current Public Health Law, a stillbirth is already considered a birth plus a death.  Fetal death certificates are always issued.  Although legislation establishing a companion birth certificate for stillbirths, stating specifically that the birth was not a live birth, has passed the NYS Senate in each of the last two sessions, its counterpart has been stalled in the NYS Assembly.  It is time for the State of New York to recognize the tragedy and loss of stillbirth by establishing a CBRS, or certificate of birth resulting in stillbirth.”

Senator Adams further states:    “Stillbirth is a naturally occurring, unintentional intrauterine (inside the womb) death occurring after the 20th week of gestation (pregnancy).  The cause for this type of death is usually not determined, although more than 25,000 pregnancies a year end in stillbirth.  Already, 19 states (including our neighbor, New Jersey) have enacted laws granting certificates for stillbirths.  Thousands of parents who have endured stillbirth feel that the certificate imparts a symbolic dignity and validation as it recognizes their loss.”

Senator Adams concludes:    “Although some individuals are concerned that recognizing a non-viable fetus as a person might threaten abortion rights, Public Health Law mandates that a death certificate be issued for every stillbirth, rendering this apprehension moot.  Moreover, the New York State legislation is carefully drafted to cover only naturally occurring fetal death and to avoid any question of fetal personhood.  The “Certificate of Birth Resulting in a Stillbirth” (CBRS) in no way undermines pro-choice or abortion rights, which I fully support.