New York Legislators Kill Bill for Grieving Mothers
Albany, NY (June 26, 2008) --- SB8960 would have helped to provide much-needed
comfort, dignity, and accurate documentation to women and their families experiencing the death of a baby just prior to or during birth. Yet, despite overwhelming support from individual legislators, including 53 Democrat and Republican sponsors, a powerful minority of reproductive rights activist legislators have “killed the bill” as of 11:00 p.m. on the last day of session.
All states, including New York, wherein nearly 2000 babies are stillborn each year, require the family to pay for funeral expenses, and a death certificate/report is issued after a stillbirth. Yet, New York, unlike 23 other states, will not offer women the choice of a Certificate of Birth Resulting in Stillbirth. During a presidential election year, when women’s choices are a top priority for candidates, this topic is highly provocative.
“There is an enormity to this public health issue,” says Dr. Joanne Cacciatore, an expert in traumatic child death. “More than ten times the number of babies die of stillbirth than those who die of SIDS, yet it’s virtually invisible.” Part of the problem, according to grieving parents, Jeff and Lori Tieger of Staten Island, is that families experiencing stillbirth have been silenced due to abortion politics.
On June 15th, the Tieger’s held an important Father’s Day Press Conference on the steps of the New York legislature, where they also had a brief conversation with Speaker Sheldon Silver who assured grieving parents personally that, “We’re moving your bill.”However, by the end of session that day, the bill was being held for consideration due to vociferous opposition from Helene Weinstein (D-Brooklyn). Yet, Weinstein's own county is in the top three in all of New York for stillbirth rates where one in 92 births results in stillbirth.
“Assemblywoman Weinstein did not act on behalf of her constituents. She attended to the demands of large lobbying organizations supporting her position in the Assembly, and together they fought against grieving mothers,” said activist Paige Ricci of Malta. “I mean, how can you say you’re pro-woman, pro-children, and pro-choice and yet oppose a bill that advocates for women, children, and choices?”
Dr. Cacciatore asserts that, “grieving mothers are being thrust into the middle of an
acrimonious, long standing battle, as pawns in a political debate that has absolutely
nothing to do with them.” Advocates for the legislation will continue their ongoing battle in New York for the third legislative session. Lori Tieger is committed to this fight in memory of her son, Daniel, who died just prior to birth at full term for unknown causes. “I’ll keep coming back and fighting this year after year until we are successful. It is time for New York to do what is right for all women.”
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