Tuesday, May 29, 2007

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.

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