How to Get Involved in the MISSing Angels Bill Movement
© 2007 MISS Foundation
Q: I want to know how to get the MISSing Angels Bill- “Certificate of Birth Resulting in Stillbirth” passed in my state. Where do I start?
Start by reviewing the MISS Foundation’s Legislation Information page and check the state chart regarding the MISSing Angels Bill. If the bill has not passed in your state and you want to get involved, please email our volunteer national legislative liaison, Daryl Logullo. We’ll connect you with others in your area and/or get you the information you need to help initiate this movement in your state.
Q: My state’s legislative website has a page on how a bill is passed – but it seems really difficult – is it that way everywhere?
It is certainly a time-consuming process, however, even those without any previous lobbying or political experiences have accomplished it. Some of the most meaningful changes in public policy have come from grass-roots efforts. One thing that will help is the ability to connect with others in your area. This balances the workload. The MISS Foundation will help you make those very important and helpful connections.
Q: Can you give me a “step-by-step generic outline” to getting this done? Is there such a thing? I work full time - how involved do I really have to be in order to get this done?
The first ‘step’ is for you to research the background of this legislation and know both sides of the (potential) argument, preparing for any opposition you may face.
The next step is to know who your legislators are for your neighborhood. Once you are familiar with the ‘issues,’ you should email us for further guidance. We strongly recommend the support of a Democratic sponsor. This will often reduce the amount of ongoing work and communication that will have to come from outside the legislature. Once you find a legislator to author the bill, much of the work can be accomplished from a distance, meaning emails, letters, and phone calls. Some states, due to political atmosphere, will require more of a time commitment.
Q: I understand that I need to write a letter to my Representative and/or my Senator – but I’m curious – do I have to write the one who represents me in my district – or can I pick and choose?
You should consider several issues. First, are you a constituent? Second, are they a democrat, republican, or independent? Generally, we recommend that the bill’s primary author be from the democrat or independent party in states where the political atmosphere is tense.
Q: Wouldn’t it be better to just send my letter to every legislator in my state and hope for the best?
We do not recommend this strategy. Although it can work in some areas, the author of the bill has a direct effect on the amount of work you’ll have to do and the degree of opposition the bill will have from other groups with an interest in this issue.
Q: What do I need to say in my letter? Is there anything I shouldn’t say?
Tell your story as a stillbirth parent. There is a sample letter on the website that you can review and use as a template. We strongly recommend that you do not use any language about “fetal rights” or other vernacular which may stir up discussion about the politics of abortion. Stillbirth and abortion are separate and distinct, mutually exclusive events. Our agenda is not one that challenges reproductive freedom. In fact, this legislation supports choice- the choice for some women to request a CBRS for their baby who died.
Q: Do I really have to meet with my legislator(s)? I’m not very good with meeting “official people”. I may not have the time - isn’t enough just to write a letter of support if someone else is already doing all the other stuff?
If you’re not comfortable meeting with your legislator, then we recommend that you find others in your area who are willing to help. Face-to-face meetings and the presence of supporters in committee hearings are critical to the success of this legislation in most states.
Q: I’ve noticed in a lot of letters where people are quoting their state’s statistics. Do I really need to know what the statistics are in my state – and if so – where do I find something like that?
Yes. Statistics are a powerful and effective tool which demonstrates the magnitude of the stillbirth problem in America. You can search the cdc.gov website for more information or your state’s vital records office online. If you’re having trouble locating this information, please let us know. Your department of public health may also have these data under “fetal deaths.”
Q: What are the nationwide statistics for stillbirth – and how come they change so dramatically according to whomever is giving them out?
Rates vary due to the inaccurate documentation and the lack of specific state reporting protocol. Estimates range from 26,000-39,000 stillbirths per year in the U.S. We are hoping that this legislation will lead to more public awareness and eventually better and more accurate statistics and research on the causes of stillbirth.
Q: How can I possibly find a legislator in my state that is sympathetic to this?
Our suggestion is that you should read about your legislator on your state’s website. Their biography may help direct you. Key legislators would be on the Health and Human Services Committees, however, this is not required.
Q: Everyone who I talk to about this seems to want to bring “abortion” into this issue – what’s up with that? Why do they do that – and how can I get them to understand that “abortion” isn’t what it’s all about?
The arena of reproductive rights for women, and the protection of them thereof, precipitates painful political battles between legislative parties. It is very important to be clear when discussing with legislators that your personal opinion on abortion has no influence on this issue. Stillbirth is the death of a baby due to naturally occurring causes at or near full term. By definition, stillbirth excludes abortion and early pregnancy losses. We recommend that you do not state your personal opinion in any meeting and that you refrain from using any type of abortion rhetoric, either for or against, in your meetings and letters.
Q: Someone’s already doing this in my state and I want to help. What can I do?
Email us! We’ll connect you with your state team leader!
Q: What is a “National Legislation Liaison” anyway? How is this person supposed to help me?
The NLL is a volunteer-based guidance position. Daryl Logullo, with the help of our chapters coordinator Kara Jones, will help guide you and help you find information that you will need to be successful. We may not have all the answers, however, we’re here to help you and to connect you with others. The NLL will ensure accurate information is being disseminated and will provide the support you’ll need.
Q: I understand that my state already does this – but not by law. What’s the big deal anyway? As long as I can get a certificate – I’m happy.
When a state issues the ‘Certificate of Birth Resulting in Stillbirth’ by policy and not law, this means that it can change at any time and with great ease. A simple change in staff, ideology, or budget could initiate such a change. We believe that this legislation is so important that each state must have a law to ensure consistent and accurate data on stillbirths and to ensure respect of current and future families experiencing stillbirth.