News10NBC Investigates: Push to get Paid Family Leave for stillborn births
ROCHESTER, N.Y. – This year News10NBC exposed how New York state discriminates against mothers of stillborn babies. The health care rules basically say their pregnancies never happened.
Today we were with mothers of stillborn babies who shared their painful stories and the state senator who wants to fix the problem. Because the babies are not born alive, the paid family leave the mothers got approved for gets cancelled and it leaves mothers with this option: stay home and recover or go back to work to pay the bills.
At 36 weeks, Cassidy Crough gave birth to her stillborn daughter Olivia. Because she had no child to bond with, her paid family leave was cancelled.
“Your body doesn’t realize you don’t have a baby to care for,” Crough said during a zoom press conference on the issue.
In Brockport, Samantha Palermo gave birth to her stillborn son Archer and in a matter of days her approved benefits were gone.
“I had a baby. I had a whole handsome baby boy,” Palermo said. “I had to heal my mind, my body, my heart.”
At 31 weeks, Ashley Spivey gave birth to her stillborn son CJ.
“It’s inhumane to not give people the support they need after going through something like this,” she said.
Instead of roughly $1,100 a week in paid family leave, mothers like Samantha and Cassidy and Ashley were offered $170 for disability. The mothers are pushing the state to pass a bill which would provide paid family leave for stillbirths. The sponsor is Senator Tim Kennedy.
Vote here on whether you support this bill.
About 15 years ago Kennedy’s daughter died four minutes after she was born. Bridget Nicole Kennedy lived long enough to be baptized.
“I know the pain you families are dealing with,” Kennedy said.
“We cannot let New York women go through this torture,” said Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar.
Rajkumar sponsors a new bill in the assembly. But, last spring, while Kennedy’s bill passed the senate, the assembly didn’t even have vote.
“Why do you think this bill hasn’t gone anywhere in the assembly when it was passed unanimously in the senate last year?” I asked during the zoom news conference.
The lawmakers left the zoom before my question. Cassidy Crough says by the time the assembly got on board the legislative session was basically over.
“Had they listened to me three months prior we would not be in this position,” she said.
There are about five stillbirths in New York every day.
Paid family leave is approved for two reasons. First, bonding with a child and, second, caring for a loved one with serious medical needs.
So get this: fathers of stillborns are eligible for paid family leave to look after the mothers, but the mothers of stillborn babies are not.
The advocates for the bill plan to gather in Albany on January 31st for “advocacy day.”