Editorial: Wrong abortion fight
Stillbirth certificates led to ugly debate
Published 12:00 am PDT Friday, June 8, 2007
Democrats in the state Senate threw gasoline on a bill that required far more deft diplomacy and legislative language. The issue was whether to allow parents of babies who died in the delivery process to purchase a "certificate of stillbirth."
A Republican sponsored the bill. Democrats amended it in committee to include language on abortion, reaffirming a woman's right to choose the procedure. Suddenly a bill on stillborn babies became a referendum on abortion. "Horrible, horrible, process," fumed state Senator Abel Maldonado, R-Santa Maria. He's right. There are moments when lawmakers with differing views have to confront them head-on. This occasion wasn't one of them.
Stillbirth is a personal tragedy, the death of the baby after the 20th week of pregnancy. Frequently the babies die in the hospital during the delivery process. It happens about 1 percent of the time.
Fetal death certificates are now issued for stillbirths. Maldonado's legislation, known as the Missing Angels Act, would allow the family to purchase for $20 a certificate of stillbirth as well.
If the pro-choice Democrats still wanted a pro-choice affirmation by the Legislature, that could have been done in a separate bill that left this one alone.
Why such ideological bickering? This wasn't an abortion war that needed to be waged.