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Should Stillborns Get Birth Certificates?

Should Stillborns Get Birth Certificates?

Baby footprints are common on birth certificates: CC photo courtesy of Moss

The Morning Call, Allentown, Pennsylvania

April 12, 2010

When Mandy Mancini went into labor three years ago she expected to come home from the hospital with a healthy baby girl. She left with a heavy heart and empty arms.

Her daughter Seneca was stillborn, leaving Mancini with only a scrapbook of memories, a plaster mold of her tiny feet, a commissioned portrait and pictures of a baby frozen in time.

“She had two little feet, 10 toes and fingers and she looked just perfect,” said Mancini, of Breinigsville. “Except she never opened her eyes or cried or took a breath.”

That fact, Mancini learned later, would make it impossible for her to obtain what she considers the most precious memento_a birth certificate and recognition that she birthed a full-term baby.

About one in 160 pregnancies results in stillbirth, generally defined as naturally occurring fetal death after 20 weeks of gestation. In up to half of all stillbirths, the cause of death can’t be determined.

For many parents of stillborns, a birth certificate is a purely symbolic but nonetheless precious document.

Almost 30 states, including neighboring New Jersey, have laws that direct health departments to issue birth certificates for births resulting in stillbirth if a parent requests one.

Pennsylvania law doesn’t provide for stillborn birth certificates. But Mancini’s grandmother, Dorothy Knappenberger of South Whitehall Township, Pa., is leading a grass-roots movement to change the law.

For Knappenberger, 73, the drive to push the legislation forward is about a silent promise she made to her stillborn great-granddaughter: “I said ‘Seneca, God willing I’m here long enough, you’re going to get a birth certificate,”" Knappenberger said.

Knappenberger started a Facebook page, now with 400 friends, and a network of dozens of mothers across Pennsylvania. She’s met with lawmakers, lobbyists and officials with the state Department of Health.


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  • Bettyboop_max50

    nurseaisha

    almost 4 years ago

    588 comments

    Everyone processes grief differently. To assume that another mother or father would not relish a birth certificate for their dead child is a poor assumption. Even a "viable" child is not fully able to sustain life on his/her own. The child depends soley on his/her parents or guardians to supply life sustaining food, clothing and shelter. The argument of personhood is what is too broad, and quite frankly shouldn't be an argument at all. Scientifically speaking, life begins at the moment of conception. Morally speaking, life begins at the moment of conception. Obviously there are differing points of view on this. It's interesting though that when a woman is pregnant and is happily expecting her baby, it is just that....a baby, however when the pregnany is an intrusion it is considered not human or inviable. The same hypocracies exist under Lacy and Conners Law. As a society, we cannot have it both ways. We cannot call it a child only when it is wanted and call it non human when it is not. All life should be respected...even unborn life.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    refinej

    almost 4 years ago

    2 comments

    Having experienced something similar to this, I did not need a "certificate" to process my grief. Even if conception is considered to be the beginning of "life," that life is not--and cannot be viable (ie. "personhood") until the child is able to fully live on its own, independent of its mother's body. With that said, if a fetus dies inutero, it is fetal demise--and a certificate of Still Birth can be issued, different than being born alive and breathing on its own, and then perishing, where a certificate of Live Birth would be appropriate. Throughout my processing of grief I knew the difference. My baby never took a breath of air. A certificate of Still Birth can be issued for those who do feel it important to have, as long as it is explicitly different than a certificate of Live Birth. To say ALL babies should get a birth certificate is simply too broad. There needs to be a distinction because there is a difference. My ♥ goes out to anyone who experiences the loss of their child - unborn or otherwise. It is a great loss, indeed.

  • Bettyboop_max50

    nurseaisha

    almost 4 years ago

    588 comments

    ALL babies should get a birth certificate...even the ones who were considered disposable by their parents. The reason why these still born children are not considered human is due to a federal law which clearly states that personhood is not acquired until the fetus is FULLY delivered from the mothers body and is able to breath on its own. This is why partial birth abortion is still being performed. The ban was never upheld. These "rules" regarding humanity are what helps the monsters who perform these acts sleep at night. It's sad that this mother, who clearly wanted her child, is suffering because of the many laws which were created to protect the "mothers" who don't want their children.

  • Img00113_max50

    Pearlferret

    almost 4 years ago

    368 comments

    Only in some states, not the entire US.

  • Me_in_cocceticut_max50

    TeresahRN

    almost 4 years ago

    142200 comments

    I can tell you from expierences, stillborn babies should have a birth certificate.

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    kidnurse1963

    almost 4 years ago

    4 comments

    A child born at any gestation is still a child and deserves a birth certificate . She didn't have a late-term abortion or at any gestational age. This poor mother has suffered an unimaginable pain and they are compounding it by saying her baby is not a human being deserving of a birth certificate. Do they think if they don't record the birth that the mother will forget she gave birth to a full-term baby? If they don't want to issue a "regular" birth certificate, why not have one's that say the child was a still-birth and record it that way. Then no one can use the name of the child to establish credit or a SSN? God bless this poor mother who is suffering enough without all the baloney her state and others are putting on her. Terri K (Pediatric Nurse)

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    okmom001

    almost 4 years ago

    2 comments

    As long as the child has been viable in the womb. They should be provided both a birth and death certificates.
    To allow for proper naming and proper disposition of the body. Please pay proper respect to the dead weather it be an infant or the elderly or anyone in between. Thank you. Mary L. P. N.

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    Rep

    almost 4 years ago

    8 comments

    Amen to the three comments below. Give the birth certificate the baby was "STILL...BORN" Can only help with the grieving process. Life begins at conception anyway..per BIBLE...what our Nation was founded on.

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    chattycathy

    almost 4 years ago

    32 comments

    How can the state say that a stillborn child isn't a recordable human being when someone murders a pregnant women they can be charged with her and her unborn child's murder? Isn't that hypicritical. The parents deserve a birth certificate.

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    babe555

    almost 4 years ago

    2 comments

    The mother gave "BIRTH" so that should speak for itself to receive a birth certificate

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    ninelives

    about 4 years ago

    922 comments

    " I feel that any mother who suffers the unfortunate circumstance of a stillborn child should at
    least be given the infant's birth certificate; this is not only a legal document,but also a cherished
    memory for the parents.The child is,"still a human being,up to and including", the time it is officially
    declared by the House Officer or Obstetrician.,If the MD needs to sign the Death Certificate,
    why eliminate the need for a Birth Certificate? Would this not be part of Patient's Rights?"

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