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.”For more information, please visit the legislative page at: http://www.missingangelsbill.org
*A personal message from Jeff and Lori:
The fight will continue in New York State.
We are very disappointed and saddened to say that our bill was killed last night at 11pm…talk about the final hour.
We are planning to expose this injustice for what it is, and we will be working toward alerting the national media of this transgression against grieving families.
We want to thank each of you who responded to our call to action.
During the final two weeks of session, the entire Ways and Means Committee have been inundated with calls, e-mails, and faxes in support of our bill.
They were answering their phones asking if the call was in reference to “the birth certificate”. You filled voice mail boxes over the weekends. And many of you have pledged your efforts when session starts again. We have more people and momentum than ever.
I am sure there are a few people who would like to ask Ms. Weinstein some questions.
Please feel free to contact her by e-mail email@example.com and by phone 718-648-4700 (district) and 518-455-5462 (Albany).
A lifelong friend of ours created a video to help communicate our message. He gave up his Father’s Day to join us at NY City Hall and record the press conference.
Please pass along the You Tube link to our video. NY CBRS
As always, thank you for your guidance and support. This is a tremendous disappointment, but we will be back stronger than ever and much better prepared for next session.
For all our children,
Jeff and Lori Tieger