Avila-DaRosa, who only has Emerson's death certificate as legal proof of his existence, is among a group of bereaved parents asking the Legislature to pass a bill granting certificates of birth resulting in stillbirth for families that request them.
Under Senate Bill 850 by Sen. Abel Maldonado, R-Santa Maria, California could join 18 other states -- including Arizona, Florida, and Massachusetts -- to acknowledge both the birth and death of stillborns.
But what proponents describe as "a hug for grieving families," has created a political minefield for the Democratic-led Legislature. They fear that recognizing stillborn births could be used to impede abortion rights because it would acknowledge the birth of a fetus. The Senate Health Committee, which held an hourlong hearing last week on the bill, is expected to take up the issue a second time Wednesday. ...
It's not just abortion rights advocates who are worried. The medical community opposes the bill in its current form because they say a voluntary birth certificate could cause confusion for the state Department of Vital Statistics.
"This will be the hardest bill I have to testify against this year," Jodi Hicks, a lobbyist for the California Medical Association, told the Senate committee Wednesday. "Unfortunately, we can't have public data on record that isn't accurate."...
"There's got to be some place in between if we had more time to think about it," said Sen. Elaine Alquist, D-Santa Clara. "Because we're all people of goodwill wanting to accomplish a good thing and be of help -- but at the same time not do anything that's going to have unintended legal consequences for women." [Emphasis added]
It is hard for me to believe that the potential consequences of this bill on abortion rights is unintended, anymore than the consequences of prior attempts at parental notification rquirements were unintended. A frontal attack on abortion rights here in California has failed because an overwhelming majority of citizens believe a woman should and must have that right. As a result, the religious reich has chosen a different, less obvious tack.
If a "middle ground" is to be found, it will have to be located in an area where the stillbirth of a fetus is not accorded the status of a live birth. I hope the California legislature stands firm on this.
Labels: Abortion Rights