Health and Human Services

Stillbirth review proposal expanded, advanced

A bill that would expand state review of child deaths to allow inclusion of stillbirths was amended to become an omnibus family law bill and advanced from select file March 23.

Sen. Wendy DeBoer
Sen. Wendy DeBoer

As amended on general file, LB741, introduced by Bennington Sen. Wendy DeBoer, would separate the State Child and Maternal Death Review Team into the State Child Death Review Team and the State Maternal Death Review Team. The bill would allow the State Child Death Review Team to review stillbirths that occur after Jan. 1, 2023, to help identify preventable causes of stillbirths.

Under LB741, the team is not required to review all stillbirths but the provisions would allow it or any agency that derives its authority from the state Department of Health and Human Services to access and analyze stillbirth data.

Four amendments were adopted during select file debate.

DeBoer offered an amendment, adopted 38-0, that would redefine a stillbirth as one for which a fetal death certificate was issued by the state.

A second DeBoer amendment, adopted 34-0, added provisions of her LB245. The amendment would make several changes to adoption law, including a streamlined notification and objection process for fathers and elimination of guardians ad litem.

She said the amendment would remove “unnecessary and antiquated” language in state law concerning adoptions.

“There currently exists uncertainty and confusion in the adoption statutes … making it an area fraught with the risk of mistakes being made,” DeBoer said.

Plymouth Sen. Tom Brandt offered an amendment, adopted 40-0, to include provisions of his LB1009. The amendment would create a nine-member Domestic Abuse Death Review Team appointed by the Nebraska attorney general. The team would investigate domestic abuse deaths to determine causes and contributing factors that led to an individual dying by homicide or suicide as the result of domestic violence.

Brandt said Nebraska is one of only nine states without such a review team.

“The purpose of the team is to prevent future domestic abuse deaths,” Brandt said. “Domestic abuse related deaths are devastatingly common and we can best honor the lives of victims and their families by learning from these experiences.”

Lincoln Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks also offered an amendment, adopted 41-0, to include her LB901, which would require DHHS to create materials on cytomegalovirus transmission, birth defects caused by the disease and available preventative measures and treatments.

Information would be published on the department’s website and be made available to health care facilities and providers.

Following adopting of the amendments, lawmakers advanced LB741 to final reading on a voice vote.

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