Editorial: Stop politicizing stillbirth bill
Mercury News Editorial
06/06/2007 01:32:13 AM PDT
The heartbreak of a stillborn baby is agonizing for the 30,000 parents who experience it every year in the United States.
So let's be clear about the squabble over Sen. Abel Maldonado's compassionate effort to help give closure to California parents whose babies are stillborn. This is not an abortion issue.
The language proposed by the San Luis Obispo Republican makes that obvious. Maldonado should be praised for avoiding using words that would add fuel to the white-hot abortion debate. His intent remains simple: allow mothers whose babies die at delivery to purchase an official California "certificate of stillbirth." Not a certificate of birth. A certificate of stillbirth.
The Legislature should stop trying to turn his SB850 into a political statement. Pro-choice Democrats are guilty of over-reacting to the bill. They have good reason to be wary of the religious right's organized efforts to dismantle Roe vs. Wade. But legislation similar to Maldonado's has quietly passed in 20 other states without further repercussions.
Nevertheless, the latest version of the bill passed by the Senate on Monday contains inserted language saying, "Through its courts, statues, and under its Constitution, California law protects a woman's right to reproductive privacy, and it is the intent of the Legislature to reaffirm these protections."
That language has merit. But it has no business being in a bill to authorize the purchase of a certificate of stillbirth.
Maldonado rightly says the added language is needlessly hostile to some Republicans who wanted to support SB850. At the very least, the last phrase should be reworded to remove "re-affirm" when the debate continues in the Assembly.
California should adopt a more compassionate approach and acknowledge the gravity of the occasion by permitting the purchase of a certificate of stillbirth.