Alicia Donathan: I Am Thankful My State Let Me Grieve, WV Should Too

My friend, Alicia Donathan, has graciously recorded and allowed us to share her experience with losing children.  It is important that we read and become familiar with Alicia’s story because Bobby’s Law, or the West Virginia Grieving Parents Act, is modeled similarly after the law in Missouri, where Alicia now resides and where her two children have been laid to rest.

The WV Grieving Parents Act would create an optional program that would allow the state to issue a “Certificat of Birth Resulting in Stillbirth” for children who are miscarried, stillborn, or suffer spontaneous fetal death.  In short, it permits the state to give a piece of paper to grieving parents, giving them the legal means they need to lay their child to rest.  If passed, the WV Greiving Parents Act would be second only to Missouri out of 28 states that have such a measure.  Missouri, and hopefully WV, are significant in that they make not provision for the gestational age or weight of the a child that has suffered a spontaneous fetal death, has been miscarried, or was still born.  Alicia’s story highlights why that is important.

Also, while Alicia makes a great point about how this measure reaffirms current West Virginia law that extends personhood to a fetus (See, the Unborn Victim of Violence Act), it takes no position on when life begins.  While science has already settled that question, the WV Grieving Parents act leaves that decision, ultimately, to the convictions of the parents.

For more on Bobby’s Law (the Grieving Parents Act) – including drafts of the legislation, a white paper, and an executive summary – please visit www.FamilyPolicyWV.com/Bobby.

——————————————————————–

I Am Thankful My State Let Me Grieve, WV Should Too
By Alicia Donathan

No parent should have to bury their child.  This is something the Meador family knows too well.  They know the pain of saying goodbye to a child to whom they only recently said hello.  They share this pain with other West Virginia families, including my own.

I am a displaced West Virginian living now in Missouri.  In July 2009, while living in St. Louis, I was diagnosed with severe preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome in the midst of my first pregnancy.  This serious condition resulted in my hospitalization and the subsequent emergency delivery of our daughter at just 25 weeks’ gestation.  Our little one died 36 hours later in the NICU.  We buried her on a Tuesday.

Then, five months later, I was pregnant again.  Our joy and apprehension was soon overshadowed by doubt as early symptoms pointed to an ectopic pregnancy (implantation in the fallopian tube).  When my doctor confirmed this, and I soon underwent surgery to remove the misplaced baby along with the tube.  Following this loss, the hospital in St. Louis turned over our tiny baby’s remains to the cemetery, and we buried our second child alongside our first.

We never received any questions from the cemetery director.  The hospital had no trouble releasing the remains to the cemetery.  No birth or death certificate exists for our second child, but these were never required of us in order to bury him or her.

As a fellow grieving parent, I am distressed to learn of the trouble the Meadors had in giving their little Bobby a proper burial.  I do not know what I would have done if the hospital or cemetery personnel had given us any resistance to burying our second child.  I admire the Meadors’ strength and persistence in refusing to give up until their little one had been laid properly and respectfully to rest.

While no parent should have to bury their child, every parent should be able to bury their child.  The Meadors’ struggle to do so raises questions: Why did the funeral director refuse to bury the child in the absence of a death certificate?  Was this because of legal repercussions or simply because it was not customary?  Why should the birth weight of a baby matter for the purposes of issuing a birth and/or death certificate?  Why did Bobby Meador’s doctor not make an exception in this case?

[Read more...]

About Jeremy Dys

Jeremy Dys is the FPCWV's President and General Counsel. In addition to his duties of providing strategic vision and leadership to the FPCWV, Dys is the chief lobbyist and spokesman. Dys is regularly featured in local, state, and national print, radio, and television outlets. He lives close to Charleston with his wife and growing family.

Having a Rational Debate on an Emotional Issue

FPCWV Delivers 134 Books on Abortion to WV Legislature

This week, volunteers with the Family Policy Council of West Virginia will deliver 134 copies of Dr. R.C. Sproul’s fabulous book, Abortion: A Rational Look at an Emotional Issue to every member of the West Virginia Legislature.

Abortion is a tender issue that hits at the very heart of our humanity.  Amidst the schedule demanded of our lawmakers during the 60-day legislative session, it can be difficult for us to have a thorough, rational dialog on the topic.

Committee hearings and legislative meetings demand so much of attention that conversations often resort to little more than sound bites that overlook the painful eyes of the single mother and the silent cries of the preborn.  We can be tempted to paint those who disagree with us in the caricatures of the most extreme ends of their position.  We are enticed to excuse reasonable dialog for the expediency of the legislative process.  Policy-making suffers.

That is why we wanted to engage and encourage our lawmakers by providing them with this important book from Ligonier Ministries.

Whether they agree with reproductive justice or not, whether or not our lawmakers are committed to defending every innocent human life, we hope they will give this book – a survey of one of the most important ethical concepts of the modern era – the serious consideration it deserves.

Perhaps, after reading it, they will be more firmly entrenched in their position, but at least we will have had the discussion – albeit vicariously – that all of us hope for, but time often deprives us of having.

The generous investments of ministry partners to the FPCWV have made this gift to our lawmakers possible.  If you would like to assist in defraying the cost of this project, please consider making a $12.00 investment in the FPCWV at www.FamilyPolicyWV.com/invest.

About Jeremy Dys

Jeremy Dys is the FPCWV's President and General Counsel. In addition to his duties of providing strategic vision and leadership to the FPCWV, Dys is the chief lobbyist and spokesman. Dys is regularly featured in local, state, and national print, radio, and television outlets. He lives close to Charleston with his wife and growing family.

PRESS RELEASE: Mom Asks Lawmakers to Support Grieving Parents, Honor Son by Passing, “Bobby’s Law”

Loophole in law forced Mom to store her deceased son in fridge until he could be laid to rest.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The Family Policy Council of West Virginia (FPCVW) announced Monday that it is asking West Virginia lawmakers to support proposed legislation, the “Grieving Parents Act,” which will close a legal loophole that has prevented parents of the legal means they need in order to bury, and properly grieve for, their stillborn or miscarried child.

“Every innocent human life is worthy of respect and recognition,” said Jeremy Dys, president and general counsel of the Family Policy Council of WV (FPCWV), “Every parent should have the option of having the state recognize their children.”

When Beckley native Cassandra Meador gave birth to her son, Bobby James, 20-weeks before he was due, she had no idea how being refused a birth certificate could extend her grief at losing a child.   She discovered that without a birth certificate, she was unable to obtain a death certificate.  As a result, she was given her son – dressed in the clothes taken from a gift store teddy bear – in a box to be stored at home until they could convince a funeral home to exhume the grave of Bobby’s grandfather and lay him to rest there.

Distressed at the loss of her son and motivated to make sure this never happened to mothers like her, Cassandra reached out to the FPCWV for help.  The FPCWV immediately began working on a simple policy solution that closes the legal loophole that prevents the state from recognizing children like Bobby James with a birth certificate, the “Grieving Parents Act.”

The “Grieving Parents Act” gives parents the option of requesting formal recognition by the state of their children who are stillborn, miscarried, or suffer spontaneous fetal death.  Cassandra and FPCWV are asking West Virginia’s lawmakers to provide her, and other mothers, with a way to have their children recognized under the law.

For more on Bobby’s story and what West Virginians can do to help moms like Cassandra, visit www.FamilyPolicyWV.com/Bobby.

A draft copy of the Grieving Parents Act is available at http://bit.ly/GrievingParentsWV.

Media resources, including video, is available to members of the media at www.FamilyPolicyWV.com/Bobby-Media.

An executive summary is available at http://bit.ly/BobbysLaw-ExSum

The Family Policy Council of West Virginia is a servant organization that advocates for policies that embrace the sanctity of human life, enrich marriage, and safeguard religious freedom.

www.FamilyPolicyWV.com

#          #          #

About Jeremy Dys

Jeremy Dys is the FPCWV's President and General Counsel. In addition to his duties of providing strategic vision and leadership to the FPCWV, Dys is the chief lobbyist and spokesman. Dys is regularly featured in local, state, and national print, radio, and television outlets. He lives close to Charleston with his wife and growing family.

Let Me Introduce You to Bobby James Meador . . .

With the life of Bobby James Meador, the truth that every innocent human life is worthy of respect and recognition has become all the more real to me in recent days.

Cassandra Meador is, in many ways, your typical young mother.  Married to her high school sweetheart, she is the busy mother of an energetic kindergartner.  She and her husband, Jason, were delighted to learn this past summer that they were expecting a baby, another boy.  They had already decided to name their son, “Bobby James” after Cassandra’s father who passed away just a few years ago.

In September of 2010, Cassandra experienced complications with her pregnancy.  Rushed to the hospital, the doctors did all they could to save the pregnancy.  But, at only 20-weeks into the pregnancy, little Bobby James was born.  Too weak to survive, Bobby died within minutes.

Cassandra was beside herself with grief.  Jason was angry at the loss of his son.  It was a loophole in the law that added insult to injury.

Because of a shortcoming in West Virginia law, the hospital could not issue a birth certificate.  Without a birth certificate, Cassandra and Jason could not get a death certificate.  As a result, they were given their son in a box – dressed in a shirt the nurses had taken off a teddy bear in the gift shop – to take home with her.  There, she stored Bobby’s body until they could convince the funeral home to exhume her father’s grave and lay little Bobby James to rest with his PaPa.

Distressed at the loss of her son and motivated to make sure this never happened to mothers like her, Cassandra reached out to the FPCWV for help.  The FPCWV immediately began working on a simple policy solution that closes the legal loophole that prevents the state from recognizing children like Bobby James with a birth certificate, the “Grieving Parents Act.”  Or, what we like to call, “Bobby’s Law.”

In the coming days, you will hear more about Bobby’s story, but for now, please visit www.FamilyPolicyWV.com/Bobby and watch Cassandra’s story in her own words below.  Consider posting this video to your Facebook profile or emailing it to your friends.

Every innocent human life is worthy of respect and recognition.  Parents should have the option of having the state recognize their children.  We hope lawmakers will give parents – like Cassandra and Jason – the opportunity to properly grieve the loss of their children.

About Jeremy Dys

Jeremy Dys is the FPCWV's President and General Counsel. In addition to his duties of providing strategic vision and leadership to the FPCWV, Dys is the chief lobbyist and spokesman. Dys is regularly featured in local, state, and national print, radio, and television outlets. He lives close to Charleston with his wife and growing family.