The certificates would be available to women whose pregnancies end after nine weeks and before 20 weeks.
The Grieving Families Act, which was signed by Gov. Rick Scott on Wednesday, will allow the state to start issuing “certificates of nonviable birth” if parents request them.
According to the Associated Press, the certificates would be available to women whose pregnancies end after nine weeks and before 20 weeks. (After 20 weeks, pregnancies that end are considered stillbirths and a death certificate is issued in Florida and many other states. However, Florida parents of stillborn children can also now request a birth certificate if they want.)
“At any stage, a parent that loses a child loses a part of themselves,” Republican Rep. Bob Cortes, the bill sponsor, told the AP.
He said he was inspired by his wife who runs a nonprofit that turns donated wedding dresses into burial gowns for children who are stillborn or die shortly after birth.
She also volunteers at a local hospital where she helps parents who are grieving after a miscarriage and says the subject of birth certificates repeatedly came up.
But critics, including the Florida chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW), say the bill is a disguised attempt to define when life begins.
“Unfortunately we were pretty much the only ones willing to step up on this bill in Tallahassee,” Florida NOW President Terry Sanders told the AP.
“We know the anti-choice movement has well thought these tiny steps toward their goal of denying women reproductive freedom.”
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The bill received support from Democrats and Republicans—it passed unanimously in the state Senate and only had one “no” vote in the House of Representatives.
Cortes said he worked with Democrats to make sure they were comfortable that the bill’s final language wasn’t related to abortion.
“I’ve made it clear since Day 1 that this was not intended to be anything other than to give parents an opportunity to obtain a certificate when they lose a child,” he said.
“It’s not something that’s being mandated. It’s not required for everybody to do. We’re not defining life.”
Parents can request the birth certificates starting on July 1.