Wednesday, December 3, 2008

LHHS Meeting Update

Carin and I went to the LHHS committee meeting today. We were there at about 3:30 p.m. Public Comments was scheduled for 4:45 p.m. Surprisingly, the committee was right on schedule the whole time. It boggles the mind . . . government on time!

Anyway, as far as we know everything went well. Originally, we had been told we would have 5 minutes. We had our talking points; we were good at 5 minutes. There were about 11 or 12 people signed up on the list before us. When the time for public comments came, a sort of roll was called to see if those on the list were actually still there. I think quite a few of those on the list had already left. Even still we were told we'd have 2 minutes instead of 5. Yikes! They wanted to adjourn the meeting for the night and wanted everyone to be as quick as they could possibly be. Carin's fast thinking (thank you for being quick on your feet, Carin) had us now reading the handout we had prepared for the committee that consisted of just the barest facts about the bill.

We accomplished our main goal which was to get the bill into the record before the start of the coming session. And we got some verbal support for it, as well.

We also got to touch base with Rep. Gardner. He's been hard to get ahold of lately due to the usual chaos of life and an ailing family member to boot.

So as it sits, with a few minor changes to the bill and some double checking on possible issues, we are set for the coming session. We have plans to speak with Planned Parenthood and the Southwest Women's Law Center in the coming weeks. But otherwise, we should be able to relax a bit and enjoy the holidays.


Today is the Legislative Health and Human Services Committee meeting in Santa Fe. It is one of the interim committees that work through the part of the year when they are not in session.

We were hoping to get on the actual agenda, but that wasn't possible for whatever reason. So our alternative is Public Comments. Today at 4:45 p.m. we will be standing up during public comment time to talk about the MISSing Angels Bill in New Mexico and asking for the LHHS committee's endorsement for the 2009 Regular Session.

I'm nervous. Last night I was reading some of the articles that were written in 2007 after the veto. I feel like we're about to dive right back into all of that negativity, but I really need to give this meeting and this session it's own due. And reading those articles and the issues that were brought up at the time, gives me a new direction in which to look for this new bill. A chance to make sure we are not falling into the same issues this time.

So wish us luck, dry palms, and dry eyes.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Congress

In case you were not aware, there is more to this movement than just New Mexico.

Sen. Barack Obama has introduced a bill in the Senate (S. 3142) called "Preventing Stillbirth and SUID Act of 2008." This bill calls for research funding for both stillbirth and sudden unexplained infant death. $5 million for stillbirth and the same for SUID. It also calls for a National Stillbirth Registry, the standardization of the definition of stillbirth, as well as, reporting and data collection. In addition, it calls for public health programs to increase awareness and education.

and . . .

Rep. Peter King has introduced a bill in the House (HR 5979) called "Stillbirth Awareness and Research Act of 2008." This bill actually mentions The MISSing Angels Bills being passed across the country. It even goes so far as to recommend that more states pass laws allowing for a Certificate of Birth Resulting in Stillbirth. It also calls for a National Stillbirth Registry and standardization of the definition of stillbirth and reporting and data collection. This bill also calls for a national public awareness campaign.

Intersestingly, of all of the sponsors and co-sponsors listed, the majority are democrats, and traditionally, democrats are the ones that take exception to this legislation as threatening abortion rights.

Isn't it nice to know that we finally have gotten some attention for this issue. We have the attention of the President-Elect. For that we owe a huge thank you to Dr. Joanna Cacciatore. Not only did she start this whole movement and the MISS Foundation, but she has been supportive of all of our efforts and the unique needs of each state.

Joanne, without you, none of this would have been possible. Thank you.

****WHAT CAN YOU DO?****

Contact your Senators and your Representative and tell them that you support these two bills. Tell them your story. Tell them that it is important to you and your family that these bills get passed. Tell them that it matters.

(You can find the text of each of the federal bills in the Legislation Links section of this blog.)

Upcoming committee meeting

The next meeting of the Legislative Health and Human Services Committee is December 3-5 in Santa Fe in Room 307 of the State Capitol.

Currently (as of today) we have a revised draft of the bill and are trying to get some time on the agenda for this upcoming meeting. If we cannot get time on the agenda, we are planning to bring it up during the Public Comments section of the meeting. Public comments are held at the end of each day of the meetings.

If Senator Dede Feldman is your senator, please contact her and ask that we be added to the committee agenda.

Friday, November 14, 2008

One change

Probably the biggest change we are making between the 2007 legislation and the 2009 legislation is what is defined as a still birth in New Mexico.

Currently, fetal deaths are required to be reported to the state only if the fetus weighs more than 500 grams. If you look at a growth chart for fetuses, an average 500 gram fetus is somewhere between 23 and 24 weeks gestation.

To our knowledge New Mexico is the only state in the nation to use 500 grams as the requirement for a stillbirth. The CDC recommends 20 weeks gestation or 350 grams if the gestational age is not known.

By adopting the CDC recommendation, we are changing our state's basic definition of a stillbirth. There is a bill in the Congress to adopt the CDC recommendation nationally, thereby standardizing what our country considers a stillbirth.

In addition, by using the CDC recommendation we are closing what appears to be a statistical gap. How could it be that New Mexico has a higher than average birth rate, but a lower than average stillbirth rate? Prenatal care here is not *that* great. Simple, we aren't counting all of the stillbirths that occur here. Some of them are being classified as miscarriages instead.

Making this change is a good thing. Having accurate, consistently reported numbers will help researchers find out why so many babies are dying before birth and will then help us prevent more losses and more families who have to suffer this pain.

The draft is in . . .

I finally got a copy of the draft today. I'm sure there will be more waiting in our future, but for now at least we have something to look at while we are waiting.

The draft looks ok. There are some issues, but I'm hopeful we can get them cleared up and cleaned up before we go to committee.

Speaking of committee . . . initially we were told that we'd be on the schedule for November's LHHS (Legislative Health and Human Services). Apparently, our bill did not come out of proofing in time to make it on that agenda. So now we are hoping and planning to make it on the agenda in early December. Fingers crossed.

That's all the news there is to report at the moment.

Friday, November 7, 2008

More Waiting

Did I mention that we seem to do a whole lot of sitting around and waiting with this endeavor? Well, we do.

We are currently still waiting to see the draft of the new legislation. I keep being told we'll see it "any time" but as of today, Friday, I am still waiting. I guess that's ok, Michael Hely is getting some things worked out before we see it. I've spoken to him a couple of times in the last few days disucssing various issues.

Hopefully, we'll see it on Monday. I'll certainly keep you posted!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Michael Hely heard from Rep. Gardner last week, and he already has a draft about ready for us to review. This is great news. I'm hoping to see it today or maybe tomorrow. I'm so excited I keep checking my email!

I'll let you all know how it looks when I finally see it.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Moving ahead

So we found out who our new contact/drafter was at the Legislative Council's office, Kate Ferlic. However, Ms. Ferlic has now also departed (temporarily).

A week or so ago we got an email from Rep. Gardner asking if Ms. Ferlic had been in contact with us. Telling us that he is hoping to get it in the Legislative Health and Human Services Committee in November. (Yeah, November. Carin and I were shocked, to say the least. From nothing to committee in less than two weeks.)

Rep. Gardner had a "long conversation" with her a few weeks ago about the bill. He was under the impression that she had completed it and it was simply waiting in her files.

Today I got a call from Michael Hely. He is now our contact/drafter. According to the first call of the day, he had no completed bill and no permission from Rep. Gardner to actually work on a bill. That effectively put us back to square one. Rep. Gardner has now had to "give permission" to three different people. I was frustrated to say the least. I told Mr. Hely that a similar piece of legislation had been passed and vetoed in 2007, that's when he said "Oh, that's what I have in front of me." So, really back to square one.

Later in the day Mr. Hely called again to talk about the Wish List I had sent to Ms. Ferlic. Clarifying, answering questions, getting things straight. All good things.

Fingers crossed, we get the bill drafted and are able to review it in plenty of time for it to get into the HHS committee. One of the reasons to get it into committee now is to get the bill a low number. A low number on the bill means it is heard sooner in the regular session and has a greater chance of making it through both the House and the Senate committees and getting passed.

So that is where we stand right now. I hope to have more to report in the next week or so.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Now we know

Hopefully, this won't be a setback.

I had sent Evan Blackstone an email a couple of weeks ago and have been waiting patiently to hear back from him on the progress of the redrafted legislation. The plan was to get the bill drafted and get it into a summer work session or two in order to get some support and work out any kinks in it before the actual start of the 2009 Regular Session.

Waiting, waiting, waiting.

So today I called. Not trying to be pushy. I know they are busy, but my impression is that the summer sessions start soon. We don't want to miss them altogether.

Ring, ring, ring. Legislative Council's Office.

Evan, apparently, no longer works in that office. That certainly explains why he didn't answer my email. So I was connected to someone else (Raoul, sorry can't remember his last name) and left a message for him. He is supposedly the person who would assign a drafter to our bill.

Raoul called back After a brief explanation of the bill and the plan for it, he said he would have someone call back within the week. He seemed to already know about the plan to get it into the summer sessions, so that's a good thing.

I certainly don't have a problem with someone else drafting it, but it can be a somewhat confusing issue. I want to make sure that whoever is drafting it has a chance to ask all the questions they may have so we aren't starting with bad information.

So that's where we stand right now. Still, in effect, waiting, waiting, waiting. But at least, now we know why we are waiting.

Saturday, February 9, 2008


I have added a few links to the Support Links section.

One is the MISS Foundation Support Forums site. The other is the New Mexico Share Message Board. Both are wonderful support forums.

Incidentally, New Mexico Share is a recent addition to our state. They have only been having meeting since Spring 2007. Both Carin and I attend whenever we can to give and receive the support of other grieving families. Meetings are held the first Thursday of each month at the Center for Prenatal Development (located at 4010 Montgomery Blvd. in Albuquerque) at 7 p.m.


Sorry that I haven't updated the blog recently. I keep meaning to post about the meeting with Donna Dossey, but I also keep forgetting to send her an email to clarify some points from that meeting. I've now sent that email and am waiting for her response.

I will say that we decided to not pursue the bill during the 2008 Regular (short) session. It was just going to be too difficult to even get it heard this year, so we decided to wait until the 2009 Regular (long) session. At this point we are waiting for the 2008 Regular session to close so that we can meet with Keith Gardner and then with Evan Blackstone. We do have a commitment from Evan to start drafting shortly after the session closes. Naturally, we will have to wait a bit longer if the governor calls a special session, but we hope to get the bill drafted soon so that we have as long as possible to make it right for the 2009 session.

So that's the update. Just waiting.