Perinatal hospice bill advanced

A bill that would provide information regarding perinatal hospice to a woman diagnosed with a lethal fetal anomaly was advanced to select file March 28.

<a href='http://news.legislature.ne.gov/dist17' target='_blank' title='Link to the website of Sen. Joni Albrecht'>Sen. Joni Albrecht</a>
Sen. Joni Albrecht

Under LB506, introduced by Thurston Sen. Joni Albrecht, a physician who diagnoses a lethal fetal anomaly would provide information regarding perinatal hospice services, which the bill defines as comprehensive support from the time of diagnosis through the death of an infant and the postpartum period.

A lethal fetal anomaly is defined as a condition diagnosed before birth that will — with reasonable certainty — result in the death of an unborn child within three months of birth.

Under the bill, the state Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) would be required to provide an information support sheet of available programs and services, which also would be posted on the department website.

Albrecht said many parents faced with a lethal fetal anomaly diagnosis feel adrift, with little understanding of their options. Being provided with resources would help families that find themselves in this difficult situation, she said.

“No parent prepares to hear the news that the child that they are carrying is going to die,” Albrecht said. “Families in this heartbreaking situation leave their doctor’s office in shock, with no help, no hope and feeling that they have nowhere to turn.”

Seward Sen. Mark Kolterman spoke in support of the bill, saying parents who find themselves with a lethal diagnosis for their unborn child need support.

“This is really just a way for people to find out that there is help available,” he said. “It’s compassionate legislation that we need to promote.”

A Health and Human Services Committee amendment, adopted 37-0, clarified that physicians and nurse practitioners may inform a patient diagnosed with a lethal fetal anomaly of the perinatal hospice services available and the resources compiled by DHHS.

LB506 advanced 38-0.

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