I first posted about Jenny and Jessica Buntemeyer back in February [original post HERE]. The two met while serving in Iraq, in 2008, fell in love, and were legally married in Iowa, where they live. When they wanted to start a family, Jessica became pregnant via in vitro fertilization, and on October 21, 2011, she gave birth to Brayden Bruce Buntemeyer.
Sadly, Brayden died after his umbilical cord became wound around his neck.
When filling out the death certificate for their son, Jessica wrote her name in the box marked "Mother," while Jenny filled out the boxes marked “Father”--the only option on the form for a second parent--and when the Iowa Department of Public Health [IDPH] issued them the death certificate, Jenny's name and identifying information was erased.
A lawsuit was filed against the IDPH by Lambda Legal calling the erasure of Jenny's name "an egregious display of insensitivity and disregard for Iowa law, which states that the spousal presumption of parentage applies to children born to same-sex spouses in the same manner it applies to children of different-sex spouses."
True, Jenny wasn't actually Brayden's 'father' but that was the only option available.
Now comes news that a A judge has ordered the Iowa Department of Public Health to issue a new death certificate acknowledging Jennifer and Jessica Buntemeyer as the legal parents of their stillborn son, over a year after Brayden was stillborn.
The IDPH has confirmed it issued the new death certificate but though they deny any allegations that they had redacted Jennifer’s name. Their argument, such as it was, was that they were trying to promote "accuracy' on the death certificate.
Still, Fifth Judicial District Judge Robert Hutchison issued his ruling on December 12, 2012 and noted that the IDPH allows non-biological fathers to be listed on certificates, and do not require listing a child’s biological father. Judge Hutchison said, “DPH does not explain how excluding a mother’s wife promotes efficiency beyond reducing its overall workload.”
He also added that as "parents, a mother’s wife is identical to a mother’s husband in every common and ordinary sense except for biology.”
A parent is a parent, and to delete the name of one parent from a death certificate is the height of injustice. A simple change in the form, from "mother" and "father" to "mother" and "parent", or even "Parent 1" and "Parent 2" would seem to be the easiest solution, and would have allowed Jenny and Jessica to grieve for their son rather than fought a court battle.
It's nice to see that the right thing was finally done.