The governor approved a measure sponsored by Assemblyman Dennis H. Gabryszak (D-Cheektowaga) that requires the state Health Department to issue certificates of stillbirth for stillborn children at a family’s request. This new law is aimed at providing grieving families solace while drawing attention to the incidence of stillbirths.
“The kind of devastating impact a stillbirth can have on a family is a tragedy that most of us could hardly even imagine,” said Gabryszak. “With this new law in place, families who have suffered through such heart-wrenching pain will no longer be left with only a death certificate, but will receive evidence of their child’s brief-yet-memorable life.”
Previously, the state Health Department was required only to issue a death certificate to grieving families when they lost a child to stillbirth. Under this new law, in the event of such a tragedy, families can also request a certificate of stillbirth. The certificate would recognize, by name, that child’s at-least 20 weeks of intrauterine life.
The measure was first authored after the heartbreaking story surfaced of Jeff and Lori Tieger who lost their son, Daniel Ian Tieger, to stillbirth in 2007. After agonizing over their loss, Jeff and Lori set out to call attention to stillbirths and root out future tragedies. Their work helping to ease the pain of others began the Daniel Star organization – a group dedicated to raising awareness of stillbirths and reducing their incidence. According to the organization, nearly 2,000 stillbirths occur in New York annually, with more than 30,000 nationwide, while 60 percent of stillbirth deaths go undiagnosed.
Locally, The Executive Director of the Western New York Perinatal Bereavement Network (WNYPBN) came out in support of this new law.
"Professionally & personally I have such peace in my heart after hearing that New York State joined 31 other states when Governor Cuomo signed the Certificate of Still Birth into law on September 23, 2011,” said Christine Scott Executive Director of the WNY Perinatal Bereavement Network and bereaved mother of Jacob Wesley Scott ~Born Still on May 27, 2000. “This law will give meaningful acknowledgment to bereaved parents that have suffered the loss of a child through stillbirth. Not only will these certificates bring much needed attention to this growing public health crisis, they will provide peace, comfort and validate the existence of our babies who were born still."
“It is my hope that this new law will provide some comfort to thousands of grieving parents, who have lost their child so unexpectedly,” Gabryszak said.