California Mulls Issuing Certificates of Still Birth
California and New York are among the states in which legislation to allow the state to issue certificates of still birth is under consideration, the New York Times reports.
Arizona was the first state to approve legislation to issue the certificates, and 18 other states over the past six years have followed suit, sometimes in the face of opposition from local chapters of abortion-rights groups that argue that the measures could set the stage to weaken protections for abortion rights.
However, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and other national chapters of abortion-rights groups have not opposed state bills that specify that the certificates are available only for naturally occurring cases of fetal death, not late-term abortions.
Most recently, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) vetoed legislation that would have allowed New Mexico to issue such certificates. Richardson, who is running for president, cited concerns about fraud resulting from two documents -- a fetal death certificate and the birth certificate resulting in still birth -- in explaining his veto (Lewin, New York Times, 5/22).
Similar concerns were at issue in debate over SB 850 by Sen. Abel Maldonado (R-Santa Maria) in California.
Abortion-rights advocates early on voiced concern that the measure could lead to wider restrictions on the service because it could define a fetus as a person, while the California Medical Association and the California chapter of the National Organization for Women worried that issuing such certificates could detract from the accuracy of state vital statistics (California Healthline, 4/16).
SB 850 is before the full Senate for consideration (Bill status, 5/21).