WILMINGTON – Families who lose a child through a stillbirth will now have the option of receiving a birth certificate under a new law signed Tuesday by Gov. John Carney.
Under current policy, stillbirths are recorded with the Office of Vital Statistics but parents receive no formal acknowledgment of their child’s birth, which can worsen a profound sense of grief and loss. Senate Bill 3—also known as “Lorenzo’s Law”—gives those parents the option of receiving a certificate of birth resulting in stillbirth. Similar laws have been passed in 36 states.
About one percent of pregnancies—roughly 24,000—end in stillbirth each year, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control.
Senate Majority Whip Nicole Poore, D-New Castle pushed for the law after meeting Kim DiSalvo, who became a passionate advocate for the legislation shortly after losing her son, Lorenzo.
“A birth certificate is more than just ink and paper. It’s a symbol of the mark our children leave on our lives when we become parents,” said Sen. Poore. “As a mom, I understand that your love for your child is unshakable, and that it begins well before birth. That’s just as true for moms like Kimmie, whose bond with her baby and whose plans for his life were just as real as anyone else’s. The law hasn’t reflected that until now. Lorenzo’s Law doesn’t cost a dime, but the dignity and validation it offers to parents experiencing profound tragedy is invaluable.”
Kim DiSalvo said the new law will be a legacy for her son, and will help grieving families through unspeakable tragedy.
"I fought for Lorenzo's Law because, for people like my husband and me, it's proof of life,” DiSalvo said. “This law legally acknowledges that babies like Lorenzo are wanted and loved, even when they are no longer here on earth. It is proof that our babies are not only a part of us, but of our home state, our world, and our lives. Although it does not diminish the pain that parents like us will bear for the rest of our lives, it is the greatest gift I could give to my son and to bereaved parents across Delaware."
DiSalvo was instrumental to Lorenzo’s Law’s unanimous passage, rallying mothers behind the bill and delivering powerful remarks at each stage of the legislative process. Rep. Larry Mitchell, D-Elsmere, a lead House sponsor of the bill, credits her testimony for SB 3's success in the House.
“The DiSalvos’ story about their loss really touched every legislator who heard it. I was honored to be able to help honor their request and allow parents of stillborn children to receive a birth certificate,” said Mitchell, a lead House sponsor of the bill. “By fulfilling this request, we hopefully will help grieving families begin the healing process.”
Before signing the bill, Gov. John Carney commended DiSalvo’s strength and the legislation’s spirit of empathy and humanity.
"This is an important and compassionate piece of legislation that I am pleased to support and sign into law," said Governor John Carney. "My hope is that this law will help Delaware families get through an extremely difficult time and achieve a measure of closure. Thank you to the DiSalvo family and members of the General Assembly for their leadership on this issue."
Immediately after the signing, Sen. Poore surprised the DiSalvos by presenting them Lorenzo's birth certificate--the first issued under the law bearing his name.