Thursday, August 30, 2007

Resolving the list

We have scheduled a meeting with Donna Dossey, Registrar, for Friday, Sept. 7th at 10 a.m. to discuss the list of documents their office will accept in order to get a delayed CBRS.

I am still hoping to persuade the state to accept a letter from your doctor as proof of a stillbirth. What the letter needs to say in order to be accepted is something that we still need to work out, as well as any other physical requirements. We do know that the letter would have to be from the doctor who delivered your child, and that the doctor would have to be certain of the case. "I think I delivered that child" will not be enough. This means that if your doctor is fuzzy on the details you may need to ask for a meeting with him/her and refresh their memory with a copy of your medical file before asking them to write the letter.

However, I think we can lay to rest the "we can't verify that a doctor is legitimate" excuse. I recently called the NM Medical Board to find out what it takes to verify the license of a medical physician practicing in the state. Apparently, it is as easy as a phone call or a web site visit. It is that easy for any consumer, and it is that easy for any state official or employee.

Hopefully, we can come up with a good list that will serve most families. Obviously, we can't account for every possible situation, but we can do our best to serve as many as possible.

Saturday, August 18, 2007


Just an update.

Currently, we are waiting to redraft the legislation. The biggest challenge right now is that everyone has returned to their day jobs and is a little slow to respond, but that is to be expected. The other challenge we have is going to be getting into the 2008 session.

In New Mexico, legislative sessions in even years (like the coming 2008 session) are short--30 days as opposed to 60 days. The short sessions are for passing the state budget and other "germane" issues. So it becomes more difficult to get bills introduced in even-numbered years. But we will do everything we can to get it into the 2008 session. If those efforts fail, we will definitely get it into the 2009 session.

So, we are still working, but progress is slow in coming at this point. We are learning patience.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Happy news

I am very happy to announce the arrival of Carin and Chokri's little girl, Camar. On Tuesday, June 19, 2007. Mom and 7+lb baby are both doing well.

Congratulations, Carin. All my love and wishes of peace.


How do I get the Report of Fetal Death for my child?

1. If your child was born still in 2004 or later, call the Office of Vital Statistics. Ask to speak to Donna Dossey, Registrar. They will gladly provide you with a copy.

2. If your child was born still before 2004 and you requested a copy of the RFD at the time and still have that copy, you are all set.

3. If your child was born still before 2004 and you did not request a copy of the RFD before it was destroyed, you will need to either get a copy of the RFD from various files or you will need to provide other documents.

We suggest requesting a copy of your complete medical records from the hospital where your child was delivered for the time that your child was delivered. Your medical records will include many things, including pathology and autopsy reports. There is a chance that your medical records will include a copy of the RFD since it was filled out by the hospital medical records department. Though it is not standard practice, some hospital administrators may have included a copy in your file, but there is no guarantee.

We also suggest requesting a copy of the file from your funeral home. Technically, the funeral home needed a copy of the RFD in order to take possession of your child’s body for final disposition. So there is a good chance that their files will have it. However, that is not what happens in all cases. In cases where the RFD was not available before final disposition, the funeral home would have filled out a Death Certificate for their own records. This death certificate should have the funeral home’s license number on it.

Funeral home records and medical records are kept indefinitely (barring unforeseen acts such as floods or fires). So you should be able to request copies of these files at any time, but it may take some time for the institution in question to retrieve and copy the files for you. Have patience.

4. We are still working on the list of documents needed to request a delayed RFD and CBRS. Part of the reason we suggest requesting the complete files from the hospital and the funeral home is that any documents on the list will more than likely be included in those files. As of right now if you don’t have and can’t get a copy of the original RFD, you will have to present a copy of the funeral home Death Certificate (with license number) and a copy of the autopsy report. Obviously, not every family requests an autopsy, that is why we are still looking for documents the state will accept.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Reports of Fetal Death

We have asked Donna Dossey, the registrar, to keep all of the RFDs that she currently has on file until this legislation is passed and signed into law. To my knowledge, she has them as far back as 2004. She has agreed to keep them. Spread the word.

Thank you Ms. Dossey.

What does this mean? It means that if you live in New Mexico and suffered a stillbirth from 2004 to the present, you can still request and get a copy of the Report of Fetal Death for your child. Having the RFD will make getting a retroactive Certificate of Birth Resulting in Stillbirth easy. Without it, you may have to request your medical records and/or the funeral home records for the necessary documentation.

If you need help getting a copy of the Report of Fetal Death for your child, please contact Donna Dossey, Registrar, at the Office of Vital Records in Santa Fe. Or you can contact us for more information.

Pro-choice Opposition

Our meeting on May 16, 2007, with the local pro-choice groups went well, too, we think. The only two groups represented were Planned Parenthood (Martha Edmands) and the Southwest Women's Law Center (Jane Wishner). NARAL declined to attend.

We did a bit of educating while we were there. Ms. Wishner has been under the impression that we are talking about miscarriages. Really she was unclear as to the difference between a miscarriage and a stillbirth and where abortion fit in. We laid out the differences between the two types of loss and that abortion is, in fact, neither of those. They are all mutually exclusive occurrences. Ms. Edmands told us that her sister suffered a stillbirth 15 years ago, so I'm pretty confident she knows what we are talking about.

They have both said that if we can find the right language, they will agree to be neutral on the bill. That is what we want. Nothing more, nothing less. But they also said that if we find language they will be comfortable with we are likely to then alienate the pro-life side of the supposed argument. (Have I mentioned exactly how much I HATE that this issue has even come near the abortion debate? Well, I do, with a passion.)

They like some of the language in California's legislation (SB 850). Especially the part where the bill reaffirms abortion rights in California, but I made it pretty clear that our bill will not do that. This is not that issue. I wouldn't suggest that an education bill reaffirm abortion rights so why would i do it here? They are no more or less the same issue. We made it clear that we want to protect existing rights and define the uses and limitations of a Certificate of Birth Resulting in Stillbirth. We can do both of those things without straying off-topic and outright reaffirming abortion rights in the state. If they want to reaffirm abortion rights, they can draft their own legislation to do just that. It doesn't belong on this bill.

They have made it clear that they do not speak for everyone in the Coalition for Choice, which includes NARAL Pro-Choice New Mexico. Martha Edmands said that while the national office of Planned Parenthood might be coming out in a neutral position on the basic legislation, she doesn't have to follow their lead if we don't come up with the right language. So despite the recent articles in Stateline and the NY Times where several national offices publicly took a neutral position, we still have to deal with the state offices of these groups.

All in all, we feel like it was a good meeting. It was emotional and draining for both Carin and I, but they now have faces and details to go along with the issue. We were able to clear up some misconceptions and come to a tacit agreement.

Office of Vital Statistics

On May 7, 2007, Carin and I met with Donna Dossey, Registrar and Mike Landen,

We feel the meeting went well.

We found out they don't so much object to the two documents, but the foundation for making them retroactive as stated in SB17. We decided the best thing to do is to try to parallel the procedure that people have to follow in order to get a delayed Certificate of (live) Birth. There is a set list of documents that people must be able to present, we are to come up with a similar list. The documents will be used to re-create a Report of Fetal Death (or Certificate of Fetal Death) that will then generate a Certificate of Birth Resulting in Stillbirth.

So far the list is pretty short since the documentation that accompanies a stillbirth is minimal, other than medical records. They are hesitant to accept either medical records or a letter from a physician because they have no way to and don't want to be in the business of verifying if those documents are valid or if the doctor is legitimate. Part of me understands this argument. The bigger part of me says, "That's crap." Last time I checked MDs have to have a medical license to practice. That license has to be on file with the state in which they practice. Really, how hard would it be to verify that a doctor is legitimate? Not all that hard, I'm guessing. We are still working on our list.

We were given a very long explanation of the process that a delayed registration of birth could go through. We were told that even with the appropriate documents, some cases are referred to the State's lawyers and some cases are even taken to court. The process can sometimes take a year or more. The impression I got from this explanation was that the person speaking didn't feel a still birth was worth going through so much for. That a still birth didn't warrant so much effort on the State's part. I let them know that my first, gut feeling on that was that they were, once again, belittling families and children affected by stillbirth. Dismissing us. We aren't worth going to court over.

We can't make a process that will serve every case or every person. Even the process of a delayed registration of live birth doesn't serve everyone, otherwise no cases would ever have to go to court to be decided by a judge. But we can and have to do our best to institute a process that will serve as many as possible. If those who are not served by it chose to pursue it in the courts, that is their decision, not the State's. The State doesn't get to decide which ones are "worth it" and which ones aren't.

We have come to understand that "issued" has a very specific meaning to a registrar. It implies that the document is printed on security paper and signed by the Registrar, etc. So in the regulations where it says a Report of Fetal Death "shall not be issued in any way," they are talking about officially issued, not a simple photocopy.

We have also come to understand that the current Registrar willingly gives out copies of Reports of Fetal Death because of the way she interprets the statute or regulation (it doesn't say she can't so she does). We would like, in the next version of the bill, to change that. We want it specifically stated that families can request and get a photocopy of the Report of Fetal Death (or Certificate of Fetal Death). We don't want this left to interpretation because what happens when the next registrar doesn't interpret it that way? Then families are denied the document because the current statutes don't say they *can* have one. We want it to be clear.

The Office of Vital Statistics has agreed to support the legislation so long as we can agree on a list of documents that to be used to prove the facts of the case when someone is seeking either a Certificate of Fetal Death or a Certificate of Birth Resulting in Stillbirth retroactively.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

MISS Foundation PSA

I've just posted a link to the recent MISS Foundation Public Service Announcement. It was aimed straight at Gov. Richardson and his advisers.

It is very powerful and goes right to the heart of the matter. I suggest at least one tissue in hand when you watch it.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


We now have two meetings scheduled.

May 7th @ 2:30 p.m. with the Department of Health. Specifically, Mike Landen and Donna Dossey of Vital Statistics.

May 16th @ 11 a.m. with our opponents and supporters. So far Planned Parenthood (Marta Edmands), the Southwest Women's Law Center (Jane Wishner), the Coalition for Choice (Joan Sanford), and the MISS Foundation (Joanne Cacciatore, via conference call) have all agreed to come. We have invited Rep. Keith Gardner and NARAL (Heather Brewer) but haven't heard a definite answer from either yet. We are also inviting Rep. Gail Chasey and Rep. Mimi Stewart.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Clarification, Please

Deborah Busemeyer called me back today. After explaining what I want (an explanation of the insurance fraud theory) she said she's probably not the person to talk to about it—she only handles the media. She'll find out who that might be and have that person call me.

I told her that we want to understand the insurance fraud reasoning. We want this legislation to pass. How are we supposed to address the issue if we don't understand it, and right now, we don't understand it at all. So the wait continues.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Interesting choice of words

An aide in Gov. Richardson's presidential campaign was quoted as saying "It's dying down and will be over soon".

Dying. I have a little bit of experience with that word. My son knows it better than I, and so I will not let this rest until it Gov. Richardson is convinced that he was wrong.

Please, feel free to email the governor, too. The more voices we have speaking the easier it will be to hear us.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

I said "almost."

I am almost speechless. Almost. It turns out, these are the opinions the governor’s office listened to (excerpts from the AP story by Barry Massey and one from the Abq Journal):

1. Deborah Busemeyer, a spokeswoman for the Health Department, said that the bill created the potential for insurance fraud because it would have required the agency to issue the certificate of birth to parents retroactively if they presented medical records of a stillbirth. Parents could have sought a certificate without regard to how long ago the death occurred. . . . Busemeyer said it was inappropriate to have the department's vital statistics staff try to verify the medical records.

Uhhhh . . . what? I understood the identity theft argument. But this one baffles me, utterly. There are no insurance benefits for a child who is born still. None. No insurance for someone without a certificate of live birth. No life insurance for someone without a social security number. No real doctor is going to bill an insurance company for a child they haven’t seen. I so don’t get this argument, and I’m hoping that Ms. Busemeyer can explain it more.

This hasn’t been a concern in 19 other states. I have to agree wholeheartedly with Joanne at MISS, what kind of fraud can you prepetrate with a “Certificate of Birth Resulting in Stillbirth”? Maybe I’m just not criminally minded enough, or maybe Ms. Busemeyer is just making stuff up because she can’t find anything else. Hmm.

2. Martha Edmands, Director of Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood of New Mexico, said the legislation could have had "unintended consequences" on a woman's right to an abortion. . . . If the state issued a certificate of birth resulting in stillbirth, she said, "you're conferring personhood on the fetus at that point."

Martha Edmands also said—quoted in the Albuquerque Journal (4/11/07, p. C3, Veto Fuels Abortion Debate)—“I don’t see a nefarious intent. But we had concerns that there might be consequences down the road — that it might conflict with the rights to a legal abortion in New Mexico.”

So let me get this straight, she has no problem with the specifics of SB17 and sees no “nefarious” purpose? So exactly what is the problem? If we make sure that a stillbirth is clearly defined (um, spontaneous?), state that the CBRS is not to be used to calculate live birth statistics, and even add in that the CBRS does not convey any of the rights that are associated with a certificate of live birth (which *will* be in the next piece of legislation), then we’ve done everything we can to protect abortion rights in this state. Neither Carin nor I want to do anything to jeopardize those rights either now or in the future. We don’t want any “unintended consequences” either.

3. Jane Wishner, of the Southwest Women's Law Center in Albuquerque, said, "It would require that women, who have just miscarried well into their pregnancies, be told they could request a certificate of birth for their fetus even though they never gave birth to a child. We think that is very inappropriate and adds trauma to an already traumatic moment."

Ok, well I almost feel like this is not even worth my breath. I said almost. Except that her response makes me so furious I have to. She so clearly does not understand this at all. Did she even *read* the bill? First, a miscarriage, by definition, is not a stillbirth. And vice versa. I did not miscarry “well into my pregnancy,” my son was stillborn at 41+ weeks. The very end. Past when most women even expect to be still pregnant.

“ . . . even though they never gave birth to a child . . . . “ and “ . . . adds trauma to an already traumatic moment.” Well that just says volumes about what she understands, now doesn’t it? But then she’s still talking about a miscarriage, not a stillbirth.

I don’t know a single, solitary mother who has delivered a stillborn baby who would be further traumatized by the hospital telling them that there is official, permanent documentation that acknowledges their child, their pain, their effort. Not one. I can’t speak for those who have had miscarriages. But by the time most women get to 20 weeks they are deeply, emotionally invested in their pregnancy and their child.

When I spoke to Ms. Wishner on the phone today—before reading this article—she said that she had spoken to several women she knows who have “gone through this.” The first thought that came to my mind was that she was talking about miscarriage. I defy her to find women who have suffered a stillbirth and ask them the same question. I think she’d be getting a much different answer.

I’m still seething about the whole “never gave birth to a child” remark. 36 hours of labor. 8 lbs 7.4 oz. 19.5 inches long. Never gave birth to a child?

So, who's the bigger moron? These people for their seriously lame and unfounded positions? Or Governor Bill Richardson for listening to them and never asking those who actually knew what the bill was about?

Other news coverage

You can find the links to the Albuquerque Journal story and the Las Cruces Sun Times story under News Links on the right.

A note on the LC Sun Times story. They ran the AP story with only one paragraph removed. Except that the paragraph they removed was the one that explains how SB17 defined stillbirth. And it was pulled off the wire before Barry Massey was called to remove the "or miscarriage" portion of his story lead. Speaking of "unintended consequences," the resulting article makes it sound as if we are **trying** to include miscarriages into our law. That is not the case; never was, never will be. And they will be informed of their mistake.

The full AP Wire story

Because for some reason the Santa Fe New Mexican hasn't published this online, yet—even though it appears on the front page of their print version.

SANTA FE — Gov. Bill Richardson is drawing criticism for vetoing a bill that supporters say would help families coping with a stillbirth [or miscarriage].

However, Planned Parenthood of New Mexico and other critics of the measure contend it might have undermined abortion rights in the state. They urged the governor to veto the proposal. The state Department of Health also recommended a veto.
The legislation would have allowed the parent of a stillborn to obtain a "certificate of birth resulting in stillbirth" from the state as well as a "certificate of fetal death."

Currently, hospitals or the medical examiner must file a report of "spontaneous fetal death" with the state Health Department's Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics. The agency will provide a copy of the report at the request of parents.

But there's no provision in current law for any birth record to go to parents coping with the loss of a pregnancy, said Carin Dhaouadi of Albuquerque, who worked on the legislation.

She said the proposed legislation wasn't intended to affect abortion rights in New Mexico.
"Some people think this could be a controversy — pro-life, pro-choice. But it can't," said Dhaouadi. "For ... us and a lot of other mothers, it's not that issue."

Dhaouadi, who had a stillborn daughter a year ago, recalls calling the state to try to obtain a copy of the death report.
"I called there, and the lady that I spoke to ... told me I didn't have a baby, that I had a fetus even though my daughter died four days before her due date," said Dhaouadi.

She and Halo Golden of Los Alamos, another supporter of the measure, complained that the governor's staff never asked them questions about the legislation, despite their repeated calls to the Governor's Office to inquire whether it would be signed or vetoed.

The legislation would have applied to stillbirths, which the measure defined as deaths occurring after the first 20 weeks of a pregnancy or when the fetus weighted 500 grams or more.
Richardson, in his veto message last week, said the term "fetal death" rather than "stillbirth" is used by health agencies for statistical reporting.

The bill "would require production of two documents for a single event — both a certificate of fetal death and a certificate of birth resulting in stillbirth. Having two documents for a single vital event can lead to confusion and potential fraud, and is not sound policy," Richardson said in the veto message.

Deborah Busemeyer, a spokeswoman for the Health Department, said Tuesday that the bill created the potential for insurance fraud because it would have required the agency to issue the certificate of birth to parents retroactively if they presented medical records of a stillbirth. Parents could have sought a certificate without regard to how long ago the death occurred.
Busemeyer said it was inappropriate to have the department's vital statistics staff try to verify the medical records. There were 84 fetal deaths reported in New Mexico in 2005.

Joanne Cacciatore, chief executive officer of the Arizona-based MISS Foundation, which supported the measure, said Richardson's reasons for vetoing the bill were "nonsensical."

"He's worried about fraud. That's odd. We passed the bill in 19 other states and this has never come up. It's a certificate of birth resulting in stillbirth. Exactly what kind of fraud can you perpetrate with that," she said.

Martha Edmands, director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood of New Mexico, said the legislation could have had "unintended consequences" on a woman's right to an abortion.

If the state issued a certificate of birth resulting in stillbirth, she said, "you're conferring personhood on the fetus at that point."

Jane Wishner, of the Southwest Women's Law Center in Albuquerque, said, "It would require that women, who have just miscarried well into their pregnancies, be told they could request a certificate of birth for their fetus even though they never gave birth to a child. We think that is very inappropriate and adds trauma to an already traumatic moment."

The vetoed bill is SB17.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Los Alamos Monitor Story

To save some space, you can find the link to this story under News Links on the right.

To the Unknown Land

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

E. B. Leighton

Monday, April 9, 2007

Fighting Dirty

In our quest to get some media attention I've been inspired to call in some big guns.

We have sent the MISS Foundation and NSS press releases to the following media outlets:

Bill O'Reilly at The O'Reilly Factor
Chris Matthews at Hardball
Peggy O'Mara at Mothering Magazine
Hillary Clinton at her presidential campaign site
Barack Obama at his presidential campaign site

Not to mention most of our local (read: New Mexico) television stations, radio stations, and newspapers.


I want to be clear. A certificate of live birth recognizes a baby’s life, but it also recognizes a mother’s effort. The certificate of birth resulting in stillbirth is meant to recognize birth, the effort of all mothers; it is not meant to recognize life. It does not convey any of the rights that are associated with a certificate of live birth.

Veto Counter Arguments

It's Monday now. Yup, still pissed off. Still hurting. Starting to get really offended.

So I decided that we needed to address the specific "reasons" for the veto. If we are going to say he's wrong, we need to show how he's wrong. So here they are, in order of appearance . . .

1. . . . The term “stillbirth” is not used by statistical health agencies. Rather, “fetal death” is used. The bill creates a new category of “births” in New Mexico and authorizes the issuance of a formal state certificate for “birth resulting in stillbirth.” . . .

“Fetal death” can happen any time during the course of a pregnancy. Before 20 weeks, under 500 grams is termed a miscarriage. After 20 weeks, over 500 grams is termed a stillbirth. The State of New Mexico does not require the filing of a Report of Fetal Death for a fetus under 500 grams. That means hospitals and healthcare providers are only required to report stillbirths. We are not creating a new category of births; we are simply calling them what they are, still births.

State statutes don’t call live births simply “births.” They are called “live births.” So we are not redefining what is considered a birth in this state. Is there really no room to include stillbirths? We feel there is plenty of room.

2. . . . The amended bill would require production of two documents . . .

Actually, one of the two documents is already required by the state, we are simply asking it to be renamed. New Mexico is the only state in the country still using a Report of Fetal Death. Changing the title of this document to Certificate of Fetal Death does not effect the content of the document, but it does institute a consistency found across the country.

We are also asking that the Certificate of Fetal Death be a permanent document with no destruction date. Most other states do not require the destruction of these documents at any time. There is no reason they should be destroyed, but there are many reasons they should be kept.

The other document is completely optional and is generated only upon the request of the family. Families will not be forced to request either of the documents, in fact.

3. . . . two documents for a single event . . .

I have to say, this reason offends me the most.

My son died 4 days before he was born still. Those are not the same event. If the timeline were reversed and he had been born 4 days before he died, we would have received a certificate of live birth and a death certificate without anyone thinking twice about it. But because he died before he was born it is suddenly the same event?

It doesn’t matter if a baby dies 5 days, 5 minutes or 5 seconds before they are born, the two are still not the same event any more than they would be if the order were reversed.

4. . . . lead to confusion . . .

Confusion for whom? I’m not confused, Carin isn’t confused, any parent who has ever lost a child this way will not be confused. I don’t really care if some bureaucrat in an office somewhere is confused.

Really the only people who need to be clear on it are the people that it is going to effect. Families who have stillborn babies and the healthcare providers or institutions who have to walk them through the long, hazy, painful days following their loss. It doesn’t really matter if everyone else is confused by it.

Truthfully, those who are confused are probably the same people who assume we, as parents, already get a birth certificate and/or death certificate afterwards. Not that they are malicious in their lack of knowledge, but it never occurred to many people that we’d have to fight for this. And a part of me says, “That’s great. I’m glad you do not understand it or know the details of it because that would mean you’ve been through it. And I don’t wish that upon anyone.”

5. . . . potential fraud . . .

Identity theft is really what we are talking about here. Right? But the possibility for identity theft from these two documents is no greater than for any other birth certificate or death certificate.

In fact, it might be less. The title of each document is clear in its description of the outcome. Certificate of Fetal DEATH. Certificate of Birth Resulting in STILLBIRTH.

Insurance fraud is the other suggested crime related to these changes, but I am at a complete loss as to how that is even possible. Especially, again, when both documents clearly state that the child in question is dead.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Letter from National Stillbirth Society to Media


The unthinkable has happened!

Presidential candidate Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico has vetoed The Missing Angel Bill. In doing so he has become the first and only U. S. Governor not to sign the Bill, which was overwhelmingly passed by both the New Mexico Senate 33-3 and the House 59-0.

As a result of his ill-considered veto, New Mexico stillbirth mothers have fallen victim to crass political pandering. The Governor's veto is an insensitive act that ignores interests of his own constituents, in favor of his presidential aspirations.

As enacted, The Missing Angel Bill, introduced as H1227 & S17, permits the state to issue to New Mexico mothers who give birth to a stillborn baby, a "Certificate of Birth Resulting in Stillbirth". Twenty nine states so far have enacted a version of the act, and all 29 of those state governors have signed it into law! (In the states where it has already passed - New Mexico included - it has done so with either unanimous or near unanimous votes.)

We have attached a copy of a letter sent by our organization to California legislators who have The Missing Angel Bill under active consideration.

It is possible to view the legislation status state by state at this link:

Please contact the undersigned for additional information or comments. For local input contact Ms. Halo Golden of Los Alamos, who became a stillbirth mother in 2003 when she lost her son Jesper at full term (41 weeks!). She is also able to put you in touch with other New Mexico stillbirth mothers.

Richard K. Olsen, Founder & Executive Director
The National Stillbirth Society

Press Release from MISS Foundation


New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson Stuns Tens-of Thousands of Bereaved Parents and Vetoes the MISSing Angels Bill
Parents nationwide outraged at indifference and ignorance!

Albuquerque, NM. (April 7, 2007)--- Just last month, the New Mexico MISSing Angels Bill (SB17), passed the New Mexico legislature with unanimous, bipartisan support. Yet, today, April 7, 2007, presidential hopeful and Governor Bill Richardson vetoed this important piece of legislation, making New Mexico the first of nearly 30 states to reject the will of its citizens and legislators regarding the way in which the birth of a stillborn baby is recognized and recorded.

The MISSing Angels Bill (SB17) was created to help provide much-needed comfort, dignity, and legal documentation to women and their families experiencing the death of a baby just prior to or during birth. Currently, New Mexico law requires reporting of stillbirth/fetal deaths and demands that families pay funeral costs for their deceased baby, yet provides no acknowledgement that the baby was born. “It’s an unthinkable tragedy,” says Carin Dhouadi, New Mexico resident and constituent. “I gave birth to a full term baby who died, and the state says I must bury her. But they won’t say she was born? How can you die if you never were?”

Joanne Cacciatore, CEO of the MISS Foundation and a PhD Candidate who studies stillbirth, passed the first bill in Arizona in 2001, and has worked to pass it in other states since. She says that families around the nation are outraged at Richardson’s move. “Richardson has just flippantly driven a stake through the heart of this legislation that addresses the ultimate woman’s issue . . . .Women give birth. And their babies—about one in 100—are dying as a result of stillbirth. He’s perpetuating the ignorance,” she says.

The change might not seem significant to many. However, to those who have experienced the anguish of losing a baby—SB17 is an important step in allowing grieving parents the same respect given to the woman leaving the hospital with a healthy infant in her arms. “This bill had support from everyone, including pro-choice legislators like Representatives Gail Chasey and Mimi Stewart, who understand this as an important woman’s issue,” said Halo Golden, volunteer lobbyist for the NM bill and the mother of a stillborn baby. Richard Olsen of the National Stillbirth Society believes that this move was ‘political pandering’, stating that the “governor’s veto is an insensitive act that marginalizes women and ignores the interests of his own constituents in favor of his presidential aspirations.”

Cacciatore agrees, saying, “Richardson just vetoed a critical woman’s issue, for no sound reason, and with unilateral authority…Is this the type of person we can trust to represent women’s interests across America? Richardson won’t get the votes of hundreds of thousands of our grieving parents across the country . . . . The vetoing of this bill is a ham handed misjudgment on the governor’s part.”

“He clearly doesn’t understand this bill, and didn’t take the time to inform himself. It’s shameful. He’s slapped grieving mothers and father in the face, not just in New Mexico, but across the country,” says Daryl Logullo, National Legislative Liaison for the MISS Foundation. “He owes them, and the people of the state, an immediate apology and a commitment to this important law that parents dearly want.”

Approximately 30,000 babies are stillborn each year in the United States. The cause of death for more than half the number of full-term (40-week) stillbirths is unknown, even after autopsy.

The MISS Foundation and the National Stillbirth Society are getting ready to launch an awareness campaign targeted at educating the governor so he wholly understands the issue. The organizations are also calling for the governor to request a special session to address it and issue an apology to bereaved parents whose babies were stillborn. For more information on the MISSing Angels Bill visit or

Call to Action

Attention New Mexico residents and MISS families!!!

Governor Richardson has vetoed Senate Bill 17 despite it passing unanimously with bi-partisan support in both the Senate and House.

SB 17 spent more than two weeks in the Governor’s office. Despite our numerous attempts to get information from the Governor’s office on the status of the bill and to offer assistance to staff, we were consistently rebuffed. We were told by the Governor’s office that if they had questions or needed help understanding the bill they would ask those parties affected. The MISS Foundation and The National Stillbirth Society were never contacted.

Despite what may seem like valid reasons for the veto, we suspect those are a cover for the sake of political appearances during the governor’s presidential bid. They have claimed that there are flaws in the legislation, but we believe this to be a cop out to minimize the negative impact of his action.

Our voices must be heard! We must make the Governor realize the full impact of his veto decision, especially since he is now a presidential candidate.

Please contact the Governor’s office beginning Monday by phone and fax (email as well). Let them know of your outrage in not passing this important legislation. Be sure to include that his decision to veto this bill is not just an issue impacting families who had a baby die, it is a women’s issue.

We need to demand a special session to readdress this issue.

Please help us!!!!

1. Read the Veto Message here.

2. Contact the Governor’s office.

Governor’s Office:
Phone: 505-476-2200
Fax: 505-476-2226


3. Check for updated New Mexico information here.

NM Blog site:

Thanks for your support,

Halo and Carin

SB17 Vetoed by Gov. Richardson

April 6 was the deadline for action on legislation. Anything not signed or vetoed by the end of the day would be "pocket vetoed," in other words ignored.

So we knew that we were down to the wire, and it wasn't a good feeling. But we were still hopeful that he would sign it. Then last night I made one final check of the Secretary of State's website. There it was, under "Vetoed Bills and Messages." It has a message attached to it. An attempt to explain why it was vetoed. (You can follow the link on the right to see the actual message.)

My first reaction was, "Well, if he thinks I'm voting for him, he's got another thing coming."

The body of the message reads:

"Pursuant to the Constitution of the State of New Mexico Article IV, Section 22, I hereby VETO and return SENATE BILL 17, as amended, which was enacted during the Forty-Eighth Legislature, First Session, 2007.

Senate Bill 17 in its amended form refers to both “certificate of fetal death” and “certificate of birth resulting in stillbirth.” The term “stillbirth” is not used by statistical health agencies. Rather, “fetal death” is used. The bill creates a new category of “births” in New Mexico and authorizes the issuance of a formal state certificate for “birth resulting in stillbirth.”

The amended bill would require production of two documents for a single event—both a certificate of death and a certificate of birth resulting in stillbirth. Having two documents for a single vital event can lead to confusion and potential fraud, and is not sound policy.

Accordingly, signature of this bill is not appropriate at this time."


They seem like logical arguments, those few at the end. Confusion. Potential fraud. Except that those were discussed as this bill went through its paces in the legislature. So there must be something else. Surely it isn't simply because we are making a new category of births.

We have been sacrificed on the altar of political appearances.

This might be the danger of bringing this bill before a governor who is running for president. He has a few too many people watching out for his image. We did everything we could, in the bill itself, to make sure that this could not be turned into a pro-life/pro-choice hot button. It would seem, however, that some people have done just that. It isn't that. It never was and never will be for those who know anything about it. But those who do not truly understand try it all the time.

We could not have had better support for this bill. We had sponsors that are pro-life. We had supporters in the House that are pro-choice. We were careful in the language of the legislation. We had nearly unanimous passage of the bill in both houses of the legislature. But he vetoed it anyway.

Could someone please remove the dagger from my back? I can't quite reach it, and it keeps knicking my heart everytime I breathe.

We have work to do.

Friday, April 6, 2007


Carin Dhaouadi and Halo Golden have established this blog to share information about the status and progress of the New Mexico Missing Angels Bill.

Missing Angels are babies born still. Stillbirth is defined as an unintentional, spontaneous fetal death occurring after 20 completed weeks gestation or over 500 grams.

Currently (early April 2007) when a child is born still in this state, the hospital or health care provider is required to fill out and send in a Report of Fetal Death. According to state statutes, this form is for statistical purposes only, and the Department of Vital Statistics is only required to keep it for one year. After that it is destroyed. (Although we have been told that they are generally kept for a few years for various reasons.) There is no individual permanent record of our children. They are a statistic only.

Our goal is to change the statute. We want a individual permanent record. We are seeking to create that in a database to be maintained by the Dept of Vital Statistics. It would be similar to the database that is currently maintained in regards to live births and post-natal deaths. The hospital will still fill out the Report of Fetal Death, but that form would be used to permanently "register" the fetal death. From that registration families will be able to request a Certificate of Fetal Death.

However, since our babies did not *just* die, we are also attempting to create a Certificate of Birth Resulting in Stillbirth. A birth certificate, but not a certificate of live birth. The CBRS would not count in the statistics for live births. It would not convey any of the rights that come with a certificate of live birth. The CBRS is not meant to recognize life; it is meant to recognize birth. Despite the fact that our babies were born still, they were still born. Each of us had to endure labor and delivery as any other mother has done. We have all had to recover from that birth. No one should be allowed to tell us that we didn't give birth simply because we didn't come home with a baby in our arms.

Why keep the Report of Fetal Death? If you have ever seen one, you will know that the RFD contains statistical information that is crucial to researching and understanding stillbirth. Information like: estimated gestation, estimated fetal age, when prenatal care was started, how much weight was gained, various risk factors (smoking, alcohol consumption, drug consumption), etc. Without this information and the understanding that comes from it the statistics will never change.

What about us? What about those who have already lost a child this way? Will we/they be able to get either or both of these documents? Yes. We are making sure that the legistlation that is passed is retroactive for those families who wish to request either or both. You will, however, need to provide proof of your loss. That proof can be either a copy of the Report of Fetal Death or the appropriate medical records indicating a stillbirth or fetal demise.

The current statutes in New Mexico are, in the most polite terms, inadequate for both families and the state. The recognition and validation that these simple documents offer families can make a huge difference in the healing process.

No one should ever have to lose a child. It is wrong of the state to denigrate or dimiss that loss.