Ridgefield woman’s push helps pass tax credit for parents of stillborn children

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Brittney Crystal recalls the isolation she felt after her daughter’s stillbirth.

“You have a room prepared for a child who isn’t coming home and you can’t get that money back,” Ridgefield resident Crystal said. “Doctors tell you they would like you to spend money on genetic testing to make sure you can have subsequent pregnancies. There are funeral costs that people don’t talk about. It cost 1,000 $ for my daughter’s land and $3,000 for the tombstone.

Crystal was a leading advocate for a proposal to provide a tax credit to parents of stillborn children. His work, along with that of State Rep. Aimee Berger-Girvalo, D-Ridgefield, paid off.

A bill providing a $2,500 stillbirth tax credit was included in the state budget passed by the legislature this week. Governor Ned Lamont is expected to sign it into law.

Connecticut is only the third state in the country to have such credit. Louisiana and Minnesota are the other two with a $2,000 tax credit.

“Aimee told us the bill wasn’t going to be done until it was done,” said Crystal, whose daughter Iris died the day she was born in 2017. “Tuesday was a good one. Women’s day after a difficult women’s week. I felt a lot of relief. Stillbirth is a stigmatizing moment that falls on moms.

“For me, what is essential with this bill that has passed is that it takes care of the lost mothers today.”

Stillbirths are not recognized as dependents under state tax law, depriving families of support to mitigate thousands of dollars in costs associated with medical care, burial and recovery.

Working with Crystal and other advocates, Berger-Girvalo eventually introduced legislation providing a $2,500 refundable tax credit for parents who experience a stillbirth.

“Getting the extra $500 in the Connecticut bill that Louisiana and Minnesota aren’t getting is important, especially in a state like ours with a high cost of living. To help with your loss, you also have mental health costs ranging from $150 to $250 and that extra $500 can help you there.

Crystal started The Iris Fund shortly after her daughter’s death. The organization provides micro-grants to eliminate premature births through research that uncovers labor triggers, according to its website.

A year ago, Crystal approached Berger-Girvalo to pitch about potential legislation that would help other parents of stillborn babies.

“When Brittney first brought it to my attention, it was something that wasn’t on my radar,” Berger-Girvalo said. “It didn’t take long to realize that this was something that needed to be fixed. When it became law, it was amazing and overwhelming. There was so much bipartisan support and to do something so meaningful that has unified support is special.

On Sunday for Mother’s Day, Crystal will distribute 1,200 irises on Main Street in Ridgefield as part of the Run Like a Mother 5K road race.

Crystal is also on the radar of current federal legislation regarding the stillbirth issue. Stillbirth Health Improvement and Education (SHINE) for Fall Law, S.3972, currently sits on the HELP committee.

Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy sits on the committee, and Crystal believes this is essential national legislation. According to the bill, it would provide critical resources to state health departments, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and other related federal agencies to improve data collection and increase education and awareness. to stillbirth in the United States.

According to the CDC, stillbirth is a public health crisis with nearly 23,500 babies still born each year.


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