Ohio lawmakers consider $2,000 tax break for stillborn births

Ohio lawmakers are considering giving a $2,000 tax credit to parents who experience a stillbirth, a policy that would cost $1.8 million a year in foregone revenues to the state.

Supporters of House Bill 507 say that the tax credit would help families who lose a baby 20 or more weeks into pregnancy deal with medical bills, counseling expenses and funeral costs.

Heather Johnston Welliver delivered a stillborn daughter in November 2014, 34 weeks into her pregnancy. Testifying in favor of the bill, Welliver said she needed grief counseling but found few counselors accepted her insurance.

“Without insurance coverage, sessions were hundreds of dollars an hour. And I needed many hours of counseling,” she said in written testimony.

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An Ohio certificate of birth resulting in stillbirth would be used as the tax documentation for the credit, according to state Rep. Anne Gonzales, R-Westerville, the bill sponsor.

Roughly 900 stillbirths occur in Ohio each year, according to state health statistics.

Welliver, a member of Ohio Star Legacy, an advocacy group focused on stillbirth, said that six states have stillbirth tax credits, three more states are considering bills and groups are developing bills in three other states.

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