Certificate of Still Birth Law

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Bill Would Help Parents of Stillborn Children

Posted by Paige on July 11, 2011 at 8:35 AM

WNYC News,  Fred Mogul-


In June, both houses of New York's legislature passed the Still Birth Certificate Bill by wide margins. If signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo, the bill would give parents of stillborn children the option to get birth certificates and name their children. Currently, New York only issues death certificates in cases of stillbirth.


More than half the states in the country offer some version of a certificate of stillbirth, but New York does not. There are an estimated 1,700 stillbirths each year in New York. The bill would be retroactive, so those mourning a stillbirth that occurred years — or even decades — ago would be eligible to get the certificate.


Assemblywoman Sandy Galef, from Westchester, authored the bill.


"If we help 100 families through their grief with this kind of legislation – or maybe we’re helping a thousand – it’s one more thing that brings closure to what happened," Galef said.


Four years ago, the future son of Jeff and Lori Tieger died in the womb of unknown causes, and Lori delivered the deceased baby after 36 hours of labor.


Amidst their grieving, the Tiegers were disappointed to learn that New York State only issued death certificates.


"A birth certificate is more important than a death certificate," said Jeff Tieger, a Staten Island business consultant. "A birth certificate acknowledges the process and the presence."


But a birth certificate wasn’t an option.

"Granted, a certificate does not fill that void, does not take away that pain," Jeff Tieger said. "But at least it does recognize the impact that a stillbirth has on the families."


The bill, which the Tiegers pushed hard for, would give the parents of stillborns an option to get such a certificate.


The certificate can also be thought of as a memento – something Lehigh University Professor Judith Lasker said can be helpful. She suffered a stillbirth in 1978 and has studied the grief processing around it for more than 30 years, interviewing hundreds of parents.


"A photo, a certificate, a blanket, footprints – for some people that’s just really valuable," said Lasker, co-author of When Pregnancy Fails. "And for others, it may be irrelevant."


Governor Cuomo has not yet announced whether he will sign the bill

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