O’ the politics of stillbirth – Dear Congress, do you really care about preventing future child deaths?

Posted on May 7, 2012


President Barak Obama, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), Rep. Peter King (R-NY) and Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) have all penned their name to stillbirth legislation. Federal legislation that would help aide in the education and research of stillbirth in the pursuit to prevent further tragedies and devastation to parents nationwide. How’s the bill doing, you ask? It’s not doing anything actually. Just sitting there fading into the obscurity of campaign politics and bipartisan posturing. All while we grieving parents want to help future parents not suffer the same loss. The politics of politics doesn’t spare any cause even if it is a death of a child and has the support of all three chambers and both parties.

For those political bystanders who are unfamiliar with the political dynamics, let me try to explain it as simply as possible. But, remember, internal federal politics can be a bit complicated. Before Barak Obama became President, he was a U.S. Senator. He sponsored stillbirth legislation in 2008. When you sponsor a bill, that means you are the champion of the bill. The champion to ultimately prevent stillbirth. Obama introduced the bill late in the session then went on to become President. He then passed the mantle to Sen. Frank Lautenberg, a senior and powerful democrat from New Jersey who then introduced the same bill the last two sessions. Sen. Lautenberg is a Democrat in a Democratically controlled Senate so you would think that, at least, a hearing on the bill could happen. Think not.

How about the House of Representatives? Rep. Peter King from New York, who is a powerful member of the Republican House, championed a different bill but with the same intent. With such a powerful Republican champion, one would think that a House hearing would be a given. Uh, think ‘not’ again. And to sweeten the deal even better for political cover, Rep. Frank Pallone from New Jersey also sponsored stillbirth legislation and he’s a powerful democrat. So you have a powerful House Republican and Democrat as champions of the bill yet nothing. At least, so far. Maybe they’ll read this blog and do something. But, somehow, I doubt it. It’s stillbirth deaths, you know. Not a high priority in election season and too damn messy. No candidate wants to talk about grieving parents and dead children on the campaign trail.

Let’s bring it back to the big picture. You have a President who has been a champion against the prevention of stillbirths. You have a powerful Democrat in the Democratically controlled Senate as a champion and a powerful House Republican in a Republican controlled House as a champion. It’s a slam dunk. The politics could not line up any better. Yet? Nothing. If Democrats help Republicans then that would be bad and if Republicans helped Democrats that would be bad. So, in the middle of all of this politics we grieving parents have the pain in our hearts that our efforts to help future parents is failing once again.

But, the session is not over. We still have 7 months and much can happen very quickly in politics. And, besides, you cannot throw all of the blame at the politicians. They work for us, you know. We must share part of the blame. But all of us parents for the past decade have brought enough energy to warrant four of the most powerful politicians in all three branches of the government and both parties to champion future stillbirth prevention, you’d think they would help us out. Or, at least, try.

If you want an answer why our members of Congress do not act on behalf of grieving parents. On legislation that will not cost extra money as it will be allocated from the existing budget. Ask them directly. They owe you an answer.