Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 13 Hansard (29 November) . . Page.. 5080 ..
to register the birth of a child who showed no sign of a heartbeat before 20 weeks gestation but was born after 20 weeks. In making this decision, the birth parent is required to consult the other parent, unless this is not reasonably practicable or appropriate in the circumstances. This change will allow parents to decide whether registration is appropriate for them.
While some bereaved parents may not wish to have a record that reminds them of their loss, others may like to formally recognise their loss as a form of closure. The inclusion of the name of a child born in these circumstances on the birth certificates of subsequent siblings is also a sensitive issue. Consistent with the rationale of providing choice to bereaved parents, the bill will also the enable a birth parent to choose whether to include a stillborn child as part of a multiple birth registration and on the birth certificate of subsequent children.
To avoid any doubt, I emphasise that the bill does not impose a requirement on grieving parents but instead will provide choice and options. The amendments that this bill will effect extend only to stillbirths involving a child who showed no sign of a heartbeat before 20 weeks of gestation but was born after 20 weeks. The bill does not affect requirements for other stillbirths.
The bill will also remove the alternative definition of stillborn child based on body mass. The act was originally drafted at the time when gestational age could not be reliably determined. The act currently states that if a foetus's gestational age could not be reliably established, the body mass of 400 grams or more would make the foetus legally a stillborn child. Today's technology can accurately determine a foetus's gestational age, so having this alternative definition based on body mass is redundant and causes confusion.
The government is committed to enhancing livability and the social inclusion of people within the territory. We are here to make sure that every person in the community is being looked after and that everyone receives the care and support that they need, particularly in difficult and distressing situations such as the loss of an unborn child. While this is a small change in the system of registration, taking a sensitive and compassionate approach to this issue can mean a great deal to a bereaved family and can help them to feel supported and understood in their grief. I commend the bill to the Assembly.
Debate (on motion by Mr Hanson) adjourned to the next sitting.
Motion (by Mr Gentleman) agreed to, with the concurrence of an absolute majority:
That so much of standing orders be suspended as would prevent the time allocated for Assembly Business being extended until the conclusion of those matters listed on the Daily Program, and Assembly business Notices Nos 4, 5 and 6 be called on and debated following the passing of Executive business Order of the day No 2, being the Integrity Commission Bill 2018.