Today, legislation co-authored by U.S. Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Maternity Care, was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in an effort to help lower the U.S. stillbirth rate. Rep. Roybal-Allard teamed up on the legislation with Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-03), Markwayne Mullin (OK-02), and Kathy Castor (FL-14). The bill would help mothers and babies nationwide by providing critical resources to state and federal health departments, improving data collection, and increasing education and awareness of the issue of stillbirth in the United States.
Each year, stillbirth affects 1 out of every 160 births, and about 24,000 babies are stillborn annually in the United States. Despite medical innovations, stillbirth rates remain relatively unchanged and affect women of all ages and of every background nationwide.
"It is a travesty that each year about 24,000 babies are stillborn in the United States, which is more than 10 times as many deaths as the number that occur from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)," said Maternity Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard. "Despite this heartbreaking statistic, we know very little about the causes of stillbirth and the United States is making some of the slowest progress in reducing this tragedy compared to almost every other industrialized nation. I am proud to be introducing this bill along with my Maternity Caucus Co-Chair, Congresswoman Herrera Beutler, because American mothers deserve better data and science to help improve pregnancy outcomes in all of our communities."
"No parent should have to go through the devastating stillbirth of a child, but sadly, as our country continues to grapple with high rates of stillbirth, each year more mom and dads will experience these heart wrenching tragedies," said Maternity Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Herrera Beutler. "To the thousands of families who've lost a child to stillbirth, we see you. I'm proud to team up with my colleagues Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard, Markwayne Mullin, and Kathy Castor on this important, bipartisan legislation to improve stillbirth outcomes across the United States. I'm committed to the goal of achieving more positive outcomes for moms and babies so that they can survive and live their lives to the fullest."
"Stillbirth impacts over 20,000 women in the United States every year. Even though medical care and technology have improved, these rates have stayed the same," said Rep. Markwayne Mullin. "It is crucial that medical professionals have the information they need to mitigate this risk. I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing this bill to promote research and educational guidelines for state departments and the National Institute of Health (NIH) to improve maternal care. Every mother and her baby deserve a chance at life and that starts with good health care."
"The loss of a child is a tragedy that far too many of our neighbors have suffered" said Rep. Kathy Castor. "I am proud to work with my colleagues to invest in research and solutions to lower the stillbirth rate in the United States and address disparities that exist in all stages of pregnancy."
"This is a monumental day for stillbirth families," said Debbie Haine Vijayvergiya, founder of the 2 Degrees Foundation and mom to Autumn Joy, who inspired the bill's name. "Fellow advocates, stakeholders, and researchers across the U.S. have been fighting to increase stillbirth awareness, education, and research for years. But unfortunately, without the larger spotlight, stillbirth has remained ignored. My hope is that we will see the SHINE for Autumn Act passed this Congress so that we will finally be able to bring this tragic maternal health issue out of the shadows and ultimately shatter the deafening silence that surrounds stillbirth. I am so grateful to Congresswoman Herrera Beutler (WA), Congresswoman Roybal-Allard (CA), Congresswoman Castor (FL), and Congressman Mullin (OK) for acknowledging that stillbirth deserves to be recognized as the tragic maternal health issue that it is. The time is now to give every family a fighting chance against stillbirth,"
The SHINE for Autumn Act will:
Provide grants to states for the surveillance and data collection relating to stillbirth and stillbirth risk factors.
Develop guidelines and educational materials for state departments of health and statistics on stillbirth data collection, data sharing, and educational materials on stillbirth.
Establishes the Perinatal Pathology Fellowship Program at the National Institutes of Health to increase research on stillbirth.
Who is Autumn?
The legislation is named after Autumn Joy, who was stillborn on July 8, 2011. Her tragic death propelled her mother, Debbie Haine Vijayvergiya, to work in stillbirth advocacy. Debbie has been working tirelessly to give Autumn's short life a purpose and to shed light on this heartbreaking maternal health issue.