Florida could become the first state to issue what’s essentially a birth certificate for women who’ve had miscarriages under a bill the Legislature sent to Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday.
The Grieving Families Act would give parents the option of receiving a state-issued certificate if a pregnancy is lost between nine weeks and 20 weeks of gestation.
“The parent can name the child if they have a gender or they can just name it Baby Smith,” said Republican Rep. Bob Cortes, the bill’s House sponsor. “It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Republican or Democrat, somebody in life has been touched through a miscarriage and they understand how important this is as part of the grieving process.”
The Senate passed the bill unanimously Thursday, three weeks after the House passed it on a 115-1 vote. The bill was worded in a way to ensure it wouldn’t spark a partisan argument over whether the state was trying to define life.
“This has nothing to do with personhood,” said Democratic Sen. Lauren Book, who said she received calls from people concerned about the bill. “It rather gives families that are grieving during a very difficult time some closure.”
Pregnancies that end at 20 weeks or later are considered stillbirths and death certificates must be issued. Parents can also request a birth certificate in such cases. A handful of states allow death certificates to be issued to women who’ve had miscarriages, but Cortes said Florida would be the first to issue what would be called “certificates of nonviable birth.”
He said many couples who grieve after a miscarriage already seek out certificates.
“They’re doing it right now, they’re just paying ungodly amounts of money for a fake certificate on the internet,” he said. “You have parents that have had miscarriages at 19 weeks and they find out after the grieving process that one more week and they could have gotten a certificate, and now they can’t get it.”
The certificate would contain language that it is not to be used as proof of a live birth.
Republished with permission of The Associated Press.