Legislative Committees Approve Birth Certificate Measure

A bill that would allow a bereaved mother to get a birth certificate for a stillborn child was approved by committees of both houses of the Tennessee General Assembly Wednesday.

Beth Barnett of Cordova talked about her experience in an unsuccessful pregnancy.

“This is to acknowledge for basically psychological reasons, you know, and grieving, that kind of thing. But it’s also like a kick from the state when you find out you’re going to walk out of the hospital with almost nothing, and then you find out that the state doesn’t even recognize that you even gave birth, period.”

Under the bill, parents whose pregnancy ended after at least 20 weeks could request a birth certificate and name the child for purposes of the record.

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The bill is HB 3286 Casada/SB 3189 Kelsey.

After approval by the House Public Health and Family Assistance Subcommittee Wednesday, the bill is on the agenda for the parent committee, House Health and Human Resources, next Tuesday, March 9.

In the Senate, the bill was approved by the Senate General Welfare Committee and is ready to go to the Senate floor.

Currently allows that a report of “fetal death” be filed if the fetus is 500 grams or more in weight, or at the end of 22 weeks of gestation.

The new bill drops the elapsed time of pregnancy to 20 weeks in order to qualify for the new form of birth certificate.

In emotional testimony, Beth Barnett told the committees that she had a stillborn baby boy in December 2008. She said after the procedure, she was treated as though “nothing happened.”

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