Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Birth Certificates for Stillborns?

As you've probably heard, there are many states trying to pass legislation which would allow parents to request birth certificates for stillborn babies. I'm torn on this. Probably because it is such an emotionally charged issue -- how horrible would it be to carry a baby to full term only to have it born dead? From the statistics I reviewed, about 25,000 babies a year are born dead. A much larger number than I would have imagined.

Currently, from what I've read, parents receive a death certificate, but not a birth certificate. Here's where I can see the line is already being crossed. If the parents receive a death certificate, they should certainly receive a birth certificate, too, as the implication of the death certificate is that the baby was alive.

Removing the emotional constraints, I would say that there are two realistic options: 1. a birth & death certificate issued 2. Neither certificate should be issued.

This brings to mind also at what point should the birth/death certificate be issued? Most of the states are considering 20 weeks. Why not less? When I had a miscarriage several years ago, the fetus developed to 8 weeks. It was the size of a lima bean when I passed it. It had two eyes...granted they were on oposite sides of the head, but still. It was living tissue prior to coming out of me, right? What if it's only 1 week along, and I pass it just as a heavy period? Should I get a certificate then? Oh, and you know if fetuses prior to full term will be allowed to have birth certificates there will be HUGE issues opened up with regard to abortion rights. I don't need to go there. I'm guessing they are picking 20 weeks because there are fetuses that have survived being born prematurely at 21 weeks. Of course that's not a common thing. Most fetuses need to be older in order to be viable, so I think they're dreamin' up that number.

In my bean, I'm guessing that to be a viable fetus, they would need to be 30 weeks old for the majority to surivive with today's technology. So, going back to my conclusion -- again removing the emotional constraints -- I would say that there are two realistic options: 1. a birth & death certificate issued for fetuses older than 30 weeks OR 2. Neither certificate should be issued.

What do you think?


Paul Bergsagel said...


I had to post when I reads this. I did not know you had had a stillbirth. I am very sorry to hear about the loss. I read your post yesterday but could not post until today because of all the emotions I felt when I read about the stillbirth. One never fully gets over a stillbirth. Year later we still have memories about the child that might have been. Well at least this is what I have been told by a few women I know who have had a stillbirth. I am sorry to hear about your loss.

Paul Bergsagel.

Paul Bergsagel said...


Sorry. I might have posted my comment twice--oooops :(