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.