03/21/2012 06:09 pm ET

Stillbirth Certificates To Be Issued By New York State

In an effort to provide comfort to grieving parents, New York will begin issuing stillbirth certificates to parents who have lost children in birth.

The over five-year battle to pass the measure, which begins Wednesday, had been under intense attack from abortion critics over the certificate's original "fetal death" name. Opponents were eventually placated by the change to "stillbirth" certificate.

Assemblyman Richard Gottfried explained the significance of the wording, "There were people in the pro-choice community who were concerned that the legislation was going to blur the bright legal line between fetus and born child. But we were able to make a couple of ultimately innocuous changes in the wording so that Family Planning Advocates, in the end, not only withdrew their opposition but put out a memo in support of the bill, which was quite amazing."

According to recent data, in 2009 there were 1,711 stillbirths recorded in New York state.

In October, a city council meeting was held over the operations on Hart Island Cemetery, where 850,000 people are buried. Most are either unidentified, unclaimed, or stillbirths. The cemetery was criticized from both advocacy groups and parents of stillbirth children who urged the city to provide public access to the island.