Friday, the Polk County District Court heard oral arguments in Buntemeyer v. Iowa Department of Public Health, Lambda Legal’s case on behalf of Jenny and Jessica Buntemeyer, a married Iowa couple who gave birth to a stillborn son, Brayden Bruce Buntemeyer. The couple’s grief was compounded when the Iowa Department of Public Health erased Jenny’s name from the death certificate.
“Fetal death certificates are issued to families that are grieving an unthinkable loss,” said Camilla Taylor, Marriage Project Director for Lambda Legal. “The state is not only denying that Jenny and Jessica are both mothers, it is trying to erase Jenny from the family. A death certificate for Brayden is their sole legal record of his existence and his significance to their family. Since Iowa provides this document to married different-sex couples listing both spouses as parents regardless of whether they share a genetic connection to their child, it must also do so for married same-sex couples.”
The case was filed in February 2012 after the family’s tragic loss was exacerbated when the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) erased Jenny’s name from the death certificate and refused to return their repeated phone calls for an explanation. Under Iowa law, vital records including death certificates reflect legal parentage, and not biology, and both spouses are parents to any child born during a marriage regardless of whether they share a biological relationship to their child. In March 2012, the Iowa Attorney General’s office filed court documents saying that the state will continue to refuse an accurate death certificate to Jenny and Jessica Buntemeyer, asserting that it was correct in erasing Jenny’s name.
“Both of us are Brayden’s parents,” said Jessica Buntemeyer. “We are hopeful that the state will provide us with the dignity and respect they would give to any other Iowa family looking to grieve together and find closure in the wake of a tragedy.”
Read the death certificate that originated from the funeral home here.
Read the death certificate provided by the Iowa Department of Public Health here.
For more information on Buntemeyer v. Iowa Department of Public Health, click here.
Source: Lambda Legal