In A Flash

Miscarriage certificates, similar to birth certificates, could soon be issued in Louisiana

By: - May 24, 2023 12:37 pm
State Rep. Raymond Crews stands at podium on House floor

State Rep. Raymond Crews, R-Bossier City (Photo credit: Wes Muller/Louisiana Illuminator)

Louisiana would start issuing “commemorative certificates” for miscarriages — documents that closely resemble birth certificates given out when babies are born — under legislation that looks likely to become law. 

House Bill 457, sponsored by Rep. Raymond Crews, R-Bossier City, encourages doctors to tell people who lost pregnancies at 20 weeks or earlier that they are entitled to a government-issued certificate commemorating the event. 

Like a government-issued birth certificate, this miscarriage certificate would be required to list the name and gender of the lost fetus if that information is known.

If no name is given, the state vital records staff would be required to list Baby, Baby Boy or Baby Girl in the first-name slot on the certificate. The last name of the person who lost the pregnancy would also be automatically assigned to the fetus and included on the document.

The miscarriage certificate would have a disclaimer that it is not “proof of a live birth,” and the state would be prohibited from using these documents to calculate live birth statistics.

But people who experience a miscarriage might not be able to stop a doctor or medical professional from broaching the subject of a commemorative certificate, even if they don’t believe a lost fetus is the equivalent of a baby.

The legislation leaves the decision about whether a commemorative certificate is discussed after a miscarriage up to the doctor, midwife or medical facility that treats the patient — not the person who lost the pregnancy.

An earlier version of the bill went even farther. Initially, Crews wanted to require all doctors, midwives and others who treat people for miscarriages to offer the miscarriage certificate to their patients. 

But Crews pulled back on that mandate early in the legislative process, changing his bill’s language to allow doctors and other medical professionals to choose whether they talk about the certificates with their patients.

The bill has already gotten approval from the Louisiana House and the Senate Committee on Health and Welfare. It now awaits a vote from the full Senate and consideration from Gov. John Bel Edwards.

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Julie O'Donoghue
Julie O'Donoghue

Julie O’Donoghue is a senior reporter for the Louisiana Illuminator. She’s received awards from the Virginia Press Association and Louisiana-Mississippi Associated Press.