Families’ Association calls registration rights to be extended to all still-born infants

The Families’ Association ‘Gezinsbond’ has called for all parents of still-born babies to be given the opportunity to register their child and to give him or her a name. Currently only babies that are still-born after a pregnancy of at least 140 days can be registered and even then there are still a number of conditions and restrictions attached. Gezinsbond says that all parents of infants that are still-born should be given the choice whether or not to name and register their child.      

The official registration of still-born children has been an option in Belgium since fairly recently.  The current rules were introduced in 1999 after numerous parents of still-born children had spoken out at their sorrow and how this was made even worse because they were unable to name and register their child in the official death register. Since then parents of still-born babies that were born after 180 days (almost 6 months) of pregnancy have been able to official name their child and register its death.    

The law was amended in April of this year, enabling parents of still-born babies that were born after 140 days (around 4.5 months) in the womb can be registered. Now Gezinsbond wants this restriction to be scrapped.     

Gezinsbond dismisses the fear that this would lead to an overlapping between abortion rights (in Belgium a termination is permitted until the 12th week of pregnancy) and the registration of still-born children.    

"It is perfectly possible that due to circumstances a mother feels obliged to have an abortion, but then suffers greatly under her loss. She too should be able to register her child”.       

Gezinsbond also believes that not only the death, but also the birth of the still-born child should be able to be registered, regardless how long they have been in the womb. Currently this is only possible after 180 days.  

Since the change in the law around 80 death certificates per month have been issued for still-born children. Parents of still-born babies that were born before the law was changed can register them retrospectively. They have until 31 March 2020 to do so.