Rick Scott

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Florida becomes first state to provide birth certificates for miscarriages

Pro-choice activists say this is another jab at 'defining life,' while lawmakers insist it's apolitical.


Jessica Machado


Posted on Jun 2, 2017   Updated on May 23, 2021, 4:28 am CDT

On Wednesday Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed the Grieving Families Act, making Florida the first state to issue birth certificates for miscarried fetuses.

Under the law, which will go into effect July 1, if a parent requests a birth certificate for a miscarriage, nurses and midwives are required to file a registration of “nonviable birth” with the state or the local government within 30 days. Only women who’ve miscarried between nine and 20 weeks of pregnancy can request the certificate, however. The state already has a law that considers any miscarriage after 20 weeks a stillbirth, upon which families must be issued a death certificate.

According to Politico, the birth certificate will include the date and county the miscarriage occurred, as well as the name of the fetus. If there is no name, “baby boy” or “baby girl” and the parents’ last name will be added. And if the sex has yet to be determined, which is often the case prior to 18 weeks, the name will just be listed as “baby.”

The bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. Bob Cortes, contends the law is apolitical, and that he worked with Democrats on the bill’s final language so that it steered clear of the abortion debate.

“I’ve made it clear since Day 1 that this was not intended to be anything other than to give parents an opportunity to obtain a certificate when they lose a child,” Cortes told the AP. “It’s not something that’s being mandated. It’s not required for everybody to do. We’re not defining life.”

Florida Democrats surprisingly put up very little fight, according to the AP, with the bill passing unanimously in the Senate. However, reproductive rights activists say it’s just another tactic to not only define when life begins, but to also humanize fetuses—especially given the nine to 20-week parameters of the law.

“Unfortunately we were pretty much the only ones willing to step up on this bill in Tallahassee,” Florida NOW President Terry Sanders told the AP. “We know the anti-choice movement has well thought these tiny steps toward their goal of denying women reproductive freedom.”

H/T the Cut

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*First Published: Jun 2, 2017, 10:22 am CDT