There’s a new law in Florida that’s currently causing a bit of controversy. It involves the intersection of reproductive rights and parental rights, which can sometimes be difficult territory to navigate. HB101, the Grieving Families Act, grants parents who experience miscarriage the ability to obtain a certificate of nonviable birth. On the one hand, this is wonderful for parents who lose a pregnancy and want to be able to honor the little one they would have had. On the other hand, it could add an additional layer of danger against the right to choose, which has been on thin ice thanks to Republicans in office.
Currently, you’re only allowed to obtain a birth certificate when you miscarry after 20 weeks gestation. In Florida, that is classified as a stillbirth. But HB101 (which goes into effect July 1) makes it so that those who miscarry between 9 and 20 weeks can ask for something called a “certificate of nonviable birth.” Technically, it is not a birth certificate, but some are concerned it will be treated as such. For example, according to ABC News, the Florida National Organization for Women (NOW) is fearful that it is just another push toward “denying women reproductive freedom.”
Under the Grieving Families Act, the certificates will be issued only to parents who request them. pic.twitter.com/NxdbZvz1mW
— Dose (@dose) June 5, 2017
However, Republican Rep. Bob Cortes (who sponsored the bill), also told ABC News that it’s “not something that’s being mandated. It’s not required for everybody to do. We’re not defining life.”
So Is HB101 Anti-Choice?
Regardless, it’s very tricky, especially in the current political climate. This could very well be another move to eventually overturn Roe V. Wade. By using the word “birth” (even a nonviable one) could add fuel to the fire that is aimed at defining life at conception. I certainly understand this.
— Michelle Rosenfeld (@MRosenfeldDC) June 2, 2017
On the other hand, as a bereaved mother myself, I do appreciate that grieving parents are being given this opportunity to obtain a certificate that recognizes their pregnancy, and to them, their babies. Defining what a “baby” is should be left up to pregnant persons and parents, and not to legislators. I’ve met many women who miscarried early, at 10 weeks or 12 weeks, and felt so connected to their pregnancy that they still consider them their babies. And they should be allowed to call themselves mothers if they so choose.
I’ve also known people who had abortions much later, and choose not to call themselves mothers—and this is also OK. None of these things should be mutually exclusive. My hope is that Rep. Cortes was being honest in not attempting to define life, and that this new law helps some of the grieving parents in Florida to heal, while still allowed us to continue living in a country where we have the right to choose when we want to become parents.
(Image: iStock / monkeybusinessimages)