from the office of State Senator Judith Zaffirini

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Gabe Valenzuela
(512) 463-0121
June 15, 2005

New Law Allows Certificates of Birth of Stillborn Children

(AUSTIN) - Effective Sept. 1 parents of stillborn children in Texas can receive a "Certificate of Birth Resulting in Stillbirth," regardless of the date of stillbirth, according to Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, author of Senate Bill 271.

"I was proud to author and pass the Texas Missing Angels bill," she said, "which will help relieve the grief of parents who previously received only certificates of fetal death for their children and no documentation of their birth. This new law enables them to memorialize and commemorate their children's lives."

Senate Bill 271, which recently (June 9) was signed into law by Governor Rick Perry, will allow parents of a stillborn child to secure a certificate signifying that the birth resulted in stillbirth. Currently, there is no official recognition that a stillborn child was born. Parents receive only a certificate of fetal death.

At the parents' request, the certificate would reflect the baby's name or "Baby Boy" or "Baby Girl" and the parents' surname.

SB 271 by Zaffirini and Rep. Lon Burnam, D-Fort Worth, also requires any person who prepares a fetal death certificate, such as a funeral home employee, to offer the parents of a stillborn child a certificate of birth resulting in stillbirth.

"We heard some very emotional testimony during the committee hearing from parents who are still grieving," said Senator Zaffirini, former chair and current member of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee that heard testimony related to the bill. "I hope this new law will help them and other parents know that the State of Texas recognizes the birth of their children and that they are worthy of our recognition."

Senator Zaffirini said the bill was inspired by John and Carolyn Nevels, who maintain the website www.missingangelsbill.org/txstory.html. Their group had been working on this legislation since 2003. It was based on legislation in Arizona, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan and Utah.

She credited the parents not only for their generosity of time, but also for their deep love for their stillborn children and for their compassion for other parents in similar situations.

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