Thursday, April 18, 2019

House Passes Bill to Help Grieving Parents


House Passes Bill to Help Grieving Parents

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma House of Representatives approved legislation Tuesday giving parents of stillborn children the opportunity to direct where their child’s remains are placed.

Senate Bill 284, by Sen. Stephanie Bice, R-Oklahoma City, and Rep. Sean Roberts, R-Hominy, also requires medical facilities maintain a written policy for the disposition of the remains of a child from stillbirth or fetal death event at the hospital. It passed the House 83-6.

Roberts said he served as the House author because he and his wife lost a child to stillbirth five years ago nearly to the day of SB 284’s passage in the House. 

“Having lost a child myself, I’ve undergone firsthand the overwhelming pain that parents go through during the days following the death of their baby,” Roberts said. “It’s confusing, frightening and tragic. We need to be doing anything that we can as a state and as individuals to help these parents navigate these impossible decisions they hoped to never have to make.”

Roberts said some Oklahoma hospitals already have processes in place to help grieving parents make this decision, but other hospitals default to placing the child’s remains in medical waste without any consultation from the parents.

“It can be deeply traumatic for parents in mourning to find out their child’s remains have been placed into medical waste without their input,” Roberts said. “Making this decision is an important step in the grieving process for these families who are undergoing the most painful chapter of their lives.”

SB 284 passed the Senate unanimously in mid-March. Bice is the bill’s Senate author.

“During such a difficult time, it is important to make sure that parents have access to clear information about what happens next, what their options are,” Bice said. “This bill makes sure parents are provided that information.”

Having passed both legislative chambers, the bill now moves to the governor’s desk for consideration.

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