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13th Jul 2018

Meath mum’s fight for her son’s life to be recognised by the Irish state

Melissa Carton

A new trend is beginning to emerge in the top baby names of 2018

No parent should have to go through this, unfortunately, many do.

Meath mother Caroline Smith is fighting for her son’s right to have his life recognised by the Irish state.

Under current Irish law, babies born either under 500 grams or before 24 weeks gestation – and showing no signs of life – are considered not viable and termed as a late miscarriage, but Caroline finds this unfair and wants it changed.

neonatal mortality

Caroline’s son Stephen was born at 20 weeks and two days on October 20, 2015, but under current law does not have any legal acknowledgement as having ever existed.

His death was due to an E-Coli infection that almost cost Caroline her life too.

Further proving that the rule needs to be changed a nurse told Caroline’s husband Martin that while Stephen would not get a birth certificate, he was big enough for a funeral.

“I gave birth, I have his memory box and all his things. I have his pictures and I have held him and we cremated him.”

“We had a service for him where family and friends came to pay their respects – but according to the Irish State, he never existed. As a parent, that is incomprehensible.”

Smith is requesting that the Minister for Employment Affairs and Social Protection Regina Doherty make new additions to the current Stillbirth Registration Act of 1994.

According to The Meath Chronicle this week the Minister’s office told Mrs Smith that her proposals for the Certificate of Life have now been sent on for review to Health Minister Simon Harris.

Smith said;

“I’m not asking for the criteria of stillborn to change but I want a certificate of life issued to every pregnant woman, after the pregnancy is confirmed by the appropriate personnel, and I want each baby to be recorded with open access, depending on parents wishes, to other family members.”

Smith who is also a mother to three girls, hopes that her fight may help end the suffering that her family and many others have gone through after the loss of their babies.

The loss of a baby regardless of how hows many weeks they are, is always heartbreaking for the parents and often the only way to work through it is to hold on to reminders of them.

For the parents of stillborn babies, the option for a certificate of life should be a non-issue and I’m shocked that it is not already freely available.

With the topic now being broached by the Health Minister, the Smith family and others like them may finally get the right to have their child’s lives acknowledge at last.