Update: Lesbian Mother Erased from Stillborn Baby's Death Certificate
Lambda Legal filed a brief yesterday in Polk County District Court, in Buntemeyer v. Iowa Department of Public Health, a case filed in February on behalf of Jenny and Jessica Buntemeyer, a married Iowa couple who gave birth to a stillborn son, Brayden Bruce Buntemeyer. The family’s tragedy was compounded when the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) erased Jenny’s name from his death certificate and refused to return their repeated phone calls for an explanation.
Under Iowa law, vital records including death certificates reflect legal parentage, and not biology, and both spouses are parents to any child born during a marriage regardless of whether they share a biological relationship to their child. Yesterday’s brief asks the court to declare that children of married same-sex couples are entitled to vital records listing both spouses as parents, and to require that the IDPH immediately issue a corrected death certificate.
“Jenny and Jessica Buntemeyer have endured the ultimate tragedy for expectant parents,” said Camilla Taylor, Marriage Project Director for Lambda Legal. “A death certificate for Brayden is their sole legal record of his existence and his significance to their family. Here, not only did IDPH deprive the family of this record, but it added insult to their pain.”
“Because the Iowa Department of Public Health erased Jennifer’s name from Brayden’s death certificate,” said Jessica Buntemeyer. “We have no official record of what he meant to both of us, which is a loss we continue to deal with every day.”