Virginia on track to get rid of stillbirth certificate fee

By: - June 28, 2023 12:02 am

Virginia’s state flag flies in Richmond. (Ned Oliver/ Virginia Mercury)

An effort to get rid of a mandatory $12 fee Virginia charged parents to obtain a stillbirth certificate is moving forward after a recent vote by the State Board of Health.

According to board policy analyst Alex Jansson, the board on June 15 unanimously approved the change needed to remove the fee from state regulations. 

The board’s decision comes nearly a year after the General Assembly unanimously voted in 2022 to remove a mandatory “reasonable fee” imposed on parents who requested a Certificate of Birth Resulting in Stillbirth, a vital record of an unintended, intrauterine fetal death occurring after a gestation period of 20 weeks. The $12 fee was intended to cover the administrative cost and preparation of the certificate, which Virginia began offering in 2003. 

Virginia Department of Health Director of Communications Maria Reppas said that “no one has paid the fee since the law went into effect on July 1, 2022.”

According to state code, all fetal deaths in Virginia are required to be reported by district registrars. Parents listed on a fetal death report for a stillbirth then have the option to request a stillbirth certificate.

According to an April background document on the regulation, business operations at the state Office of Vital Records have already been changed to conform to the new law, but regulations have not. 

The background document also states the impact of the change is “negligible” because “there are very few stillbirth certificates produced each year.” According to the document, there were approximately 2,800 unintended, intrauterine fetal deaths between 2018 and 2020 in Virginia, but only 229 applications for certificates. 

Following the board vote, the change is being reviewed by the state’s executive branch through a fast-track process meant for noncontroversial regulations. 

If approved by Attorney General Jason Miyares’ office, the regulation will then be reviewed by the Department of Planning and Budget, Secretary of Health and Human Resources John Littel, the Office of Regulatory Management and Gov. Glenn Youngkin. 

Miyares’ office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Macaulay Porter, a spokeswoman for the governor, said he did not have anything to add while the regulation is under review by the attorney general.

Upon approval by Youngkin, the Virginia Department of Health will submit the regulation to the Virginia Register of Regulations, which will later publish it in the state register – an official publication that provides information on the rulemaking activities of state agencies. Once published, a 30-day public comment period will begin. 

The regulation will become officially effective 15 days after the close of the public comment period unless objections are filed, the action is withdrawn or the Department of Health specifies a later date. 


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Meghan McIntyre

Meghan McIntyre is a recent graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree in print and online journalism. She received a faculty award for her stories covering Virginia government and politics, which were published in various outlets across the state through the Capital News Service course in the Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture at VCU. She was also a previous news intern at VPM and briefly freelanced for The Farmville Herald and The Suffolk News-Herald.