New York stillbirth parents call on governor for paid leave

Stillbirth parents in New York want to be recognized − including by Gov. Kathy Hochul.

They are calling on Hochul to support legislation that would give parents of stillborn babies the same 12 weeks of paid time off from work they would have gotten under the state’s paid family leave if their babies had lived.

The calls come from several stillbirth parents featured in an investigation by The Journal News/lohud that explained how these parents often feel unseen, despite the grief and challenges they face, and are now pushing for a new level of support in New York.

Cristian Ortiz and Crystal Rivera hold their daughter Valentina's ashes, Nov. 30, 2022 in Manhattan. Valentina was born still at 37 weeks in December 2021, while the couple lived in Puerto Rico.

“It’s irresponsible to expect a parent to come back to work right after that,” said Samantha Banerjee, executive director of PUSH for Empowered Pregnancy, a national nonprofit dedicated to ending preventable stillbirths and educating families so they can bring their babies home safely.

“New York already has paid family leave. Stillbirth and loss families need to be included in this,” said Marny Smith, one of the group’s founding members. “We need the support of the governor.”

Banerjee’s daughter, Alana, was born still in 2013, as was Smith’s son, Heath, in 2019.

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Parents who spoke with The Journal News/lohud described the agony of finding out their baby was dead just weeks, or even days, before they were due. Mothers described the trauma of having to deliver their babies knowing they were dead.

A “stillbirth” is a delivery in which a baby is born dead anywhere from 20 weeks to

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