Sunday, April 15, 2007

Sneak Attack

It is hard to imagine anything more tragically painful than carrying a baby to term and then losing him or her in stillbirth. There were some 3,000 tragedies of this kind last year in California: 3,000 grieving families, 3,000 heartbroken mothers. While all people of good will feel for such families, some members of the California Legislature have found a way to exploit those grieving parents in a back door attempt to quash abortion rights. From today's Sacramento Bee:

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.



Blogger ntodd said...

Yeah they're really good at the stealth measures, which is why we must be ever vigilant.

Oddly enough, I just took a Zogby poll today and it asked (summarizing a number of questions): what are the greatest threats to our country? From where I sit, it's all internal threats, and it ain't "radicalized American Muslims"...

2:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, I heard that a prochoice feminist is behind this, touting that all women's choices should be honored. The language *very* carefully excludes terminations, and only applies to late fetal death. You should read the bill's language. It seems hole proof to me and I'm an attorney.

3:04 PM  
Blogger ntodd said...

Yeah, and I heard that the Bush administration engineered 9/11.

6:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

but, but, but we have to soften our hard line stance against abortion. it's costing us elections! /weanie liberal genius dood


5:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice blog.
It's amazing how some people want to confuse stillbirth with abortion and abortion rights issues...
Take the time to read the proposed language and you will clearly see that it excludes abortion, has *nothing* to do with abortion rights, and it's ONLY purpose is to provide a measure of comfort and support for the parents of the stillborn. Futhermore, the certificate would *only* be issued upon request of the parent (and it would be paid for by the parent). What sense does it make to have a state (1.) issue a parent a death certificate; (2.) have the parent pay for the burial or cremation; but (3.) never recognize the birth?!!
Laws providing these certificates have been in effect in several other states for almost a decade now... and *nothing* to erode a woman's right to choose to abort has happened as the result of those laws.
It's time for people in our society to get real.
- the Father of a stillborn son.

8:25 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

If you haven't read the language of the bill in its entirety, and you dont really know the issue, and you cannot speak intelligently on it, you should not speak at all.

Don't be an ideologue and oppose something for which you have (as demonstrated) no real depth of understanding at all...

9:13 PM  

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