The first glimpse of your child. The child you carried, prepared for, and loved. She is Still. Stillborn.

Traditionally, infant mortality issues such as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome & premature births have received public and media attention, which has gained these issues monetary funding for research, support, and prevention. In sharp contrast, Stillbirth, described as the spontaneous death of an unborn baby who has passed 20 completed gestational weeks, has been virtually ignored by the public and media. Regardless of the fact that one in every 100 pregnancies will end in stillbirth they are not counted by the Center for Disease Control in infant mortality data. Stillbirth is not just an issue for expecting parents it is an issue for all women that have ever dreamed of being a Mommy. Most of these women are unaware that there are 4 stillbirths per hour in the US, according the MISS Foundation, and 50% of these occur for no diagnosable reason. Research and attention to this cause will educate and hopefully reduce these statistics. Recently groups such as the MISS Foundation have taken on the task of fighting to reduce the number of stillbirths, support research, provide bereavement support for these unfortunate families, and maybe most importantly recognize and dignify the parents that were devastated by stillbirths in order to bring some sort of closure. Due in part to the reprehensible lack of attention to this heartbreak these families are left with full hearts and empty hands.

When grief comes we look for something that we can use to hold our heart together. However finding this "something" can be hard. The majority of hospitals in the country will not issue a birth certificate, however there is a death certificate presented to these unfortunate families. There is something called the "Certificate of Birth Resulting in Stillbirth" bill that is making its way through the US state senates. Also known as "The MISSing Angels" bill, this state bill seeks to provide an optional document for families requesting and paying for it in a particular state and also serve as official recognition of the unlived lives of these babies. The key word here is "optional". Yes it is optional for the parents to receive this but it also optional for each state whether or not they offer it. This is where yet another problem for many families emerges.

Bereaved parents fight everyday with how to prove that their child was real, now they are fighting the United States government. Countries around the world such as the United Kingdom, Australia and Ireland already issue certificates of birth for stillborn babies. The debate in the United States is caused by semantics. The argument is that because many states have an abortion cut off date of 24 weeks a stillbirth at 20-23 weeks is considered a fetus and not a baby. Around the country the debate rages on because abortion-rights advocates fear that giving a fetus "personhood" and giving the child the rights independent of the mother, could fuel the anti-abortion agenda. In the bill that is making its way around the country the term "unborn child" is used but New York found a way to grant the wish of these families by changing the term to "unborn fetus."

"How can you have a death without a birth?" This question is repeatedly asked by the heartbroken families in the states that are grasping for closure and validation of existence. It's not just about validation there is also the mental wellbeing of the family left with empty arms. The loss of a child is one of the most tragic events that can happen to expecting parents but when this happens, whether people acknowledge it or not, the grieving process is very complex. Just like mourning for a parent or spouse, these parents experience all the classic stages of grief along with the hardship finding some way to prove that the deceased was apart of someone's life. The offering of the certificates of birth for stillborn can bring closure to the families, "it brings healing and recognition that our babies are real and do matter. The birth of a baby is a huge event even if the outcome isn't what we hoped for," says Liz Allen whose daughter was stillborn.

"There is no harm in the issuance of a birth certificate to the grieving parents of a stillborn child," says Michael Rounds Governor of South Dakota, who recently signed the MISSing Angels bill into law, "The recognition that this is the loss of a human life may offer some solace to the parents in their time of mourning."

While the recognition of stillbirths is gaining ground in America an increased pace is needed for all the little girls and boys that dream of one day having a family. We can no longer sweep this under the rug. Yes these babies were stillborn but they were still born and they matter. Research and studies take time but we have the power to give these families now a little something to hold in their hands. Will we help?

http://www.missingangelsbill.org/default.html

                                                                                                                                                    Source:  HubPages, author Gillian Marie

Passing The MISSing Angels Bill in PA

2009-2010 Pennsylvania Legislative Session

Senate Bill 620 remains stalled in the Health and Welfare Committee due to language disputes between parties.  Things you can do to help:

Contact your senator!  You can find your local senator here:  http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs/legis/home/find.cfm

Contact Senator Corman and offer your support.  You can reach Senator Corman here:  http://www.jakecorman.com/

Learn much more about the MISSing Angels Bill at http://www.missingangelsbill.org/default.html

 

 

 

 

 

 
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