Media Release: Friday, 15 June, 2007

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) is calling on Northern Territory parliamentarians to provide bipartisan support for a private member’s bill which would allow for the legal recognition of babies born earlier than 20 weeks into a pregnancy if the mother requests it.

The call follows on from the tragic situation where a Darwin mother who miscarried at 17 weeks was not able to give her baby a proper burial because no birth or death certificates are issued for stillborn babies less than 20 weeks.

ACL Northern Territory Chief of Staff Lois Fong said the Northern Territory Parliament needs to ensure that this very distressing situation is put right and never repeated.

“Our hearts go out to Fiona Peters and her partner Craig Redriff in the ordeal they have suffered. To be even able to see the fingernails on the baby’s hands and then be told that he wasn’t entitled to a proper burial is just not right,” Mrs Fong said.

“Fiona and Craig, and any other parents who find themselves in a similar situation in the future, should have the right to request a birth and death certificate and be able to bury their baby in a dignified way. They should also be shown a great deal more compassion.”

Member for Blain Terry Mills MLA is planning to introduce a private member’s bill into Parliament next week which would allow mothers who have miscarriages in hospital prior to 20 weeks to make a request to the Minister for a birth and death certificate.

If the miscarriage occurs at home then a doctor has to sign off on the request.

“We congratulate Terry Mills for his plans to introduce this bill and to seek to gain bipartisan support for it, rather than making it a political issue,” Mrs Fong said.

“We’re urging all Northern Territory parliamentarians to support the bill and ensure it has a speedy passage so that more people aren’t place in this dreadful situation.”

Media Contact: Glynis Quinlan