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Entries in Birth Certificate (4)

Friday
Jul152011

New Pennsylvania Law Allows Birth Certificates for Stillborns

Comstock/Thinkstock(HARRISBURG, Pa.) -- Come Sept. 5, 2011, Pennsylvania will become the 31st state to offer the birth certificates for stillborns upon request.

The push for states to offer Certificates of Birth Resulting in Stillbirth started in Arizona in 1999 with Joanne Cacciatore, a trauma and grief counselor in Phoenix and mother of Cheyenne, who died about 15 minutes before she was born.

"No one else should have to go through what I felt when I called the office of records and they told me I didn't have a baby," said Cacciatore, who helped lobby for the Pennsylvania bill. "We need to extend the same compassion to women who experience the death of a baby to families who experience the death of a teenager."

A stillbirth, Cacciatore said, is no less tragic than any other death.

"Very few things are more traumatic than the experience of birth and death at the same time," she said.  "A mother then goes home to an empty room, breast milk, postpartum hormones and people's comments. It's a very biologically, socially, and emotionally traumatic experience for women."

Cacciatore said the birth certificate is deeply symbolic; much like a marriage certificate is for gay couples.  She also hopes it will incite a change in culture when it comes to talking about stillbirth.

"When people ask me how many children I have, I'll say I have four who walk and one who soars," she said. "The love of a parent transcends death.  Just because she died at birth doesn't make her any less valuable."

But the battle for birth certificates was fraught with opposition, with abortion rights groups arguing they could be used as fodder by anti-abortion activists.  However, the law, which makes the certificate available upon request following non-elective terminations, does not seek to define when life begins.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar242011

Transgender Woman Sues New York over Genital Surgery Law

BananaStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Joann Prinzivalli's New York City birth certificate still reads: Paul Joseph Prinzivalli Jr., male, even though she transitioned to a woman more than a decade ago.

She attempted a transition from man to woman in the 1970s, fully prepared to have genital surgery, but her psychiatrist rejected her request.

Prinzivalli, now 57, eventually changed her name and has legal documents -- a driver's license and a Social Security card -- but her birth certificate doesn't match.

She wants to take the final step to secure her identity, but the New York City Health Department has demanded she have sex reassignment surgery -- on her genitals.  Thirty years ago, she was healthy enough, but today Prinzivalli is morbidly obese and has type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and a blood disorder that would make surgery dangerous.

She is now one of three transgender New Yorkers who are challenging the city in a lawsuit, saying that requiring surgery amounts to discrimination.

The lawsuit was filed by the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF) in the state Supreme Court, arguing that many transgender people cannot afford the surgical procedures.  They say a doctor's verification that they have fully transitioned is enough.

The federal government allows transgender Americans to change their gender marker on their passports and Social Security accounts with a doctor's certification that the person has had appropriate clinical treatment.

"When transgender people are forced to present an ID that does not match, they are laughed at and turned away at the DMV or applying for a job," said Noah Lewis, the TLDEF lawyer who is defending the New Yorkers.  "The cost is prohibitive for some people and insurance often denies those claims.  Some people feel that surgery is not necessary or appropriate for them."

The New York City Health Department requires written proof, "satisfactory to the department that the applicant has undergone convertive surgery," which it defines as genital surgery.

"We are very sympathetic to the petitioners' concerns and recognize that this is a complex issue," wrote Gabriel Taussig, chief of the New York City Health Department's administrative law division, in a statement.  "The health department must be satisfied that an applicant has completely and permanently transitioned to the acquired gender prior to the issuance of a new birth certificate."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar232011

Transgenders Sue over Surgery Requirement to Alter Gender on Birth Certificate

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock (NEW YORK) -- Joann Prinzivalli's New York City birth certificate still reads: Paul Joseph Prinzivalli Jr., male, even though she transitioned to a woman more than a decade ago.

She attempted a transition from man to woman in the 1970s, fully prepared to have genital surgery, but her psychiatrist rejected her request.

Prinzivalli, now 57, eventually changed her name and has legal documents -- a driver's license and a Social Security card -- but her birth certificate doesn't match. She wants to take the final step to secure her identity, but the New York City Health Department has demanded she have sex reassignment surgery -- on her genitals. Thirty years ago, she was healthy enough, but Wednesday Prinzivalli is morbidly obese and has type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and a blood disorder that would make surgery dangerous.

She is one of three transgender New Yorkers who are challenging the city in a lawsuit, saying that requiring surgery amounts to discrimination.

The lawsuit was filed by the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund (TLDEF) in the state Supreme Court, arguing that many transgender people cannot afford the surgical procedures. They say a doctor's verification that they have fully transitioned is enough.

The federal government allows transgender Americans to change their gender marker on their passports and Social Security accounts with a doctor's certification that the person has had appropriate clinical treatment.

The New York City Health Department requires written proof, "satisfactory to the department that the applicant has undergone convertive surgery," which it defines as genital surgery.

A recent study by National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) shows 80 percent of women and 95 percent of men do not undergo sex reassignment surgery because of the cost, which can be tens of thousands of dollars.

The report, released in February, paints a bleak picture of life as a transgender person in the United States. The survey, "Injustice at Every Turn," says discrimination is pervasive.

The 50 states have a collection of different laws on how transgender Americans can change their birth certificates. Three states -- Idaho, Ohio and Tennessee -- ban any change to the birth certificate at all. Some require a court order, some, like New York, require proof of a surgical procedure.

In Washington state, which advocates say is a model, birth certificate changes require a doctor, under penalty of perjury, to validate the gender transition.

"Why would anyone who has not transitioned even think of doing this?" asked NCTE's Mara Keisling. "You have a right to do this. It doesn't make sense. What possible fraud is there?"

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

Thursday
Jan202011

Connecticut Gives Non-Genetic Parents Legal Rights

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(HARTFORD, Conn.) -- During a two-year legal battle, Anthony and Shawn Raftopol, Americans who live in Holland, worried that only one of the men was the legal parent of their young twin boys.

The gay couple married legally in Massachusetts in 2008.  Their twins, Sebastiann and Lukas, now two years old, were born in Connecticut through in-vitro fertilization with a donor egg and a surrogate mother.

Anthony Raftopol was the biological father and, under family law, had full parental rights.  But when the couple tried to obtain a birth certificate, also naming Shawn, they were told he had no legal claim to the children.

But the Connecticut Supreme Court ruled this week that Shawn Raftopol, 40, has parenting rights, even thought he is not the biological father, because the couple had a valid surrogacy agreement.  The court rejected the state's argument that the co-parent would have to go through a second-parent adoption proceeding in order to be listed on the birth certificates.

The decision will have far-reaching ramifications for other couples -- gay and straight -- who choose to have their children through surrogacy.

After the birth, Connecticut's Department of Public Health refused to allow the names of both fathers to appear on the birth certificate.  The Supreme Court's ruling affirmed a lower court's order confirming their parentage and requiring the state to issue corrected birth certificates, addressing a new and emerging area of law.

Two partners who sign a surrogacy agreement in Connecticut can now have both their names on the birth certificate, even without a genetic link.  Intended parents can get immediate recognition without any other action, even before the birth of the child.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio