According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 24,000 children—nearly 70 per day—are stillborn each year in the United States.
As an insightful recent article by Diana Dombrowski of the Rockland/Westchester Journal News makes clear, stillbirth is a deeply traumatic experience for parents. (According to the article, “stillbirth” is defined as a delivery in which an infant of at least 20 weeks’ gestation is born dead. The term “miscarriage” is used for pregnancy loss that occurs before 20 weeks’ gestation.) Marny Smith, who gave birth to a stillborn son in 2019, describes stillbirth as “‘surreal in the worst way, because when you think about the day that you’re going to give birth to your child, it’s going to be the happiest day of your life and suddenly you flip a switch and it’s your worst nightmare.’”
Cassidy Crough, who delivered a stillborn daughter earlier this year, reportedly learned that her daughter’s heart was no longer beating. At 36 weeks’ gestation, Crough underwent an induced labor. “‘I’m going into the thing I feared the most as a woman,’ Crough said. ‘Then to go into it knowing that your daughter is dead and you still have to go through the delivery process is such a mental torture that it makes the delivery process seem like an eternity.’”
In addition to dealing with their grief over the loss of a child, mothers of stillborn children must also physically recover from the birthing process. For some families that experience a stillbirth, financial stress only compounds the trauma. According to the Journal News, “expenses related to a stillbirth add up quickly, such as funeral service fees, mental health care and genetic testing to rule out risks in future pregnancies.”
For several years, New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms has supported bills that would provide a onetime $2,000 tax credit to parents of stillborn children. Those bills, Bill S.2184-Mayer and Bill A.6366-Bichotte Hermelyn, have yet to gain traction in the New York State Legislature. The Journal News reports that similar proposals have become law in Connecticut, Minnesota, and Louisiana. NYCF calls upon the Legislature to offer financial relief to the parents of stillborn children by creating a tax credit for them.