The U.S. House of Representatives today approved Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler’s bill, the Stillbirth Health Improvement and Education (SHINE) for Autumn Act, which aims to lower the U.S. stillbirth rate by providing critical resources to state and federal health departments, improving data collection, and increasing education and awareness around the issue of stillbirth in the United States. Herrera Beutler introduced the bill in October of this year with Representatives Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), Markwayne Mullin (OK-02), and Kathy Castor (FL-14).
Each year, stillbirth affects 1 out of every 160 births, and over 21,000 babies are stillborn in the United States. In addition, a global comparison of the reduction in stillbirth rates from 2000 to 2019 ranked the U.S. 183rd of 195 countries. Despite medical innovations, stillbirth rates remain relatively unchanged and affect women of all ages and every background across the United States.
“Today marks a significant and long overdue step forward in the effort to save more babies’ lives and prevent families from experiencing the devastating stillbirth of a child,” Herrera Beutler said. “I’m pleased the House today recognized the urgency to stem our nation’s high rate of stillbirth and unanimously approved my bipartisan piece of legislation. My goal as the co-founder of the Maternity Care Caucus is to continue improving the health and well-being of moms and babies across this country, and this bill is another key piece in that puzzle. I’m hopeful the Senate will take swift action on this bill and send it to the president’s desk to be signed into law.”
“As a country we have not sufficiently invested in research to better understand the tragedy of stillbirth that impacts about one in every 160 pregnancies each year. As a result, the United States lags behind 181 other nations who are reducing their stillbirth rates more rapidly than we are,” Roybal-Allard said. “As Co-chair of the Congressional Maternity Care Caucus I am proud to have worked with my colleagues, Congresswomen Jaime Herrera Beutler, Kathy Castor and Congressman Markwayne Mullin, to introduce the SHINE for Autumn Act, and I am thrilled that it has passed the House today. It is time for this country to bring stillbirth out of the shadows and invest in the education and research that will save babies lives.”
“Stillbirth impacts over 20,000 women in the United States every year. Though medical care and technology have improved, these rates have stayed the same,” Mullin said. “It is crucial that medical professionals have the information they need to mitigate stillborn risk. I thank my colleagues for supporting this bill to promote research and educational guidelines for state departments and for the National Institute of Health (NIH) to improve maternal care. Every mother and her baby deserve a chance at life and that starts with good health care.”
“By passing the SHINE for Autumn Act today, we are one step closer to investing in the research and solutions to help lower the stillbirth rate that exists in the United States and to address disparities in all stages of pregnancy,” Castor said. “I am proud to work with my bipartisan colleagues and Autumn Joy’s mom Debbie on this lifesaving legislation and urge our Senate colleagues to join us in passing this bill.”
The unwavering support of Congresswomen Herrera Beutler and Roybal-Allard and all the co-sponsors of the bipartisan SHINE for Autumn Act, has filled me with immense hope. The kind of hope I haven’t felt in the 10 years since Autumn died,” said Debbie Haine Vijayvergiya, founder of the 2 Degrees Foundation and mom to Autumn Joy, whom the legislation is named after. “My stillbirth advocacy journey has not been easy and there have been many moments where I contemplated giving up because I never felt like anyone was listening. But in the end, giving up wasn’t an option for me. And today, I couldn’t be happier to say that I finally feel like I’m being heard. Without our voices, our baby’s stories will never be heard. Autumn and all the babies born still deserve this bill. And their families deserve this bill. I call on Congress to help us SHINE a light on stillbirth and to see this bill through!
SHINE for Autumn Act:
- Provides grants to states for the surveillance and data collection relating to stillbirth and stillbirth risk factors.
- Develops guidelines and educational materials for state departments of health and statistics on stillbirth data collection, data sharing, and educational materials on stillbirth.
- Establishes the Perinatal Pathology Fellowship Program at the NIH to increase stillbirth research.
Who is Autumn?
The legislation is named after Autumn Joy, who was stillborn on July 8, 2011. Her tragic death impacted her family and propelled her mother, Debbie Haine Vijayvergiya, toward helping others through stillbirth advocacy. She has been working tirelessly to give Autumn’s short life a purpose and to shed light on this heartbreaking maternal health issue.