June 9, 2005

Minnesota Parents can now receive a Certificate of Birth for their stillborn baby as Governor Tim Pawlenty signed the Optional Certificate of Birth Resulting in Stillbirth bill into law on May 31, 2005. The law will be enacted on August 1, 2005 and certificates will be available to parents who complete the filing process. The new law will benefit not only those parents who will have a stillbirth in the future, but it is a retroactive bill and therefore any MN parents who ever had a stillborn baby in the past will also be able to file for and receive their baby's birth certificate.

Previously, parents who experienced the tragedy of having a stillborn baby-which is defined by the National Institute of Health as 20 weeks or later in gestation-were only able to receive a Death Certificate and the birth of the stillborn baby was not acknowledged. This led to frustration and confusion for many stillborn parents. Several parents questioned in their testimonies before the legislature, "How can you receive a Death Certificate for a baby that is not ever considered to have been born?" Many mothers who had a stillbirth went through long hours of labor and delivered healthy full term babies who died just because of a cord issue or similar tragedy. These babies could have lived had they been delivered in time. Now, the new law requires that hospital staff notifies parents within five days of the birth of a stillborn baby that they have the option to receive a Certificate of Birth Resulting in Stillbirth. If the parents want their certificate, the hospital will assist the parents with the filing process for the $13 certificate, which is the same current cost and procedure required for a live baby's birth certificate. For parents filing retroactively, the fee currently is $20.

Due to the implementation of the statewide record computer system and the special session, filing fees are not yet finalized and may increase. Estimated fees could potentially increase up to $16 for a Certificate of Birth Resulting in Stillbirth fee. For retroactive certificate filing, the fee could go up to as much as $40.

Thanks to the Missing GRACE Organization's Executive Director, Candy McVicar and volunteers- Susan Lacek and Cameron Jensen, Sherokee Ilse and the collaborative bipartisan efforts on the part of Representative Karen Klinzing (R -Woodbury), Senator Michelle Bachman (R-Stillwater), and Senator Ellen Anderson (DFL-St. Paul), the bill received incredible legislative support and unanimous votes in both the House and Senate Health committees as well as on the floor of both House and Senate. This was a true coming together by the Minnesota legislature for an excellent and worthy cause. Parents have shared that receiving their certificates will bring rightful recognition and dignity to their baby, a bit of peace and comfort and a sense of some closure on painful and soulful issue.

For more information about the history of this bill and its new status as Minnesota law, please contact:

The Missing GRACE Foundation
Candy McVicar