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Families with stillborn babies seek birth certs

Snowbaby

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ST. PAUL - Women whose babies died before they were delivered are making personal appeals to lawmakers to let mothers like them get birth certificates for stillborn children.

And so far, legislators are listening. On a unanimous vote Wednesday, the House Health and Human Services Policy Committee endorsed a bill that would give the official recognition for stillborns.

Five years ago, Susan Lacek learned her baby, Faith, died while still in the womb. The family still prays for Faith and hangs stockings for her at Christmas.

"How can we get a death certificate if we didn't get a birth certificate?" Lacek asked.

The measure is sponsored by Woodbury Republican Rep. Karen Klinzing, who experienced her own tragedy with a newborn. In 2003, her 4-week-old son William died after being born with a severe birth defect.

"My rationale for supporting this bill is that grief is a really difficult thing for parents who are experiencing the death of an infant. Something that can really help in the process of dealing with the grief is a record of mementos," Klinzing said.

Wisconsin, Arizona and several other states have recently passed laws allowing birth certificates for stillbirths.

In 2002, there were about six fetal deaths after 20 weeks of pregnancy for each 1,000 live births, according to national statistics.

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