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?

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