“After the loss of our son, Jenny and I were just trying to process our grief and get through it together,” said Jessica Buntemeyer. “To erase Jenny’s name from the death certificate was like trying to erase all the love, commitment, and work we had both put into planning a family. We were in complete shock.”
Jenny Buntemeyer and Jessica Aiken met in 2008 and fell in love while serving in Iraq. They married in Iowa on October 8, 2010 and remain in the Army Reserve. After planning a family together, Jessica became pregnant via in vitro fertilization and an anonymous donor.
On October 21, 2011, Jessica gave birth in Iowa to Brayden Bruce Buntemeyer, at 30 weeks’ gestation. He died in utero prior to labor after his umbilical cord became wound around his neck. On the fetal death certificate form, Jessica filled out the boxes for “mother” and Jenny filled out the boxes marked “father,” the only option on the form for a second parent. On January 12, 2012, Iowa Department of Public Health issued them a death certificate on which someone had erased Jenny’s name and identifying information.
A week earlier, in a different Lambda Legal case, a trial court affirmed that the spousal presumption of “legitimacy” applies equally to children born to married same-sex couples and ruled that Iowa’s birth certificate statute must be interpreted in a gender-neutral way. The court ordered IDPH to issue a birth certificate listing both same-sex spouses as parents. IDPH recently appealed that ruling.
Don't let the Iowa Department of Public Health erase Jenny Buntemeyer from Brayden’s death certificate just because he had two moms. Join Lambda Legal and One Iowa's petition.
- Director, Iowa Department of Public Health
I am writing to urge that you issue an accurate fetal death certificate to Jenny and Jessica Buntemeyer of Davenport, Iowa, for their stillborn baby, Brayden, who was delivered on October 21, 2011.
Jenny and Jessica are a legally married couple in the state of Iowa - and they should be treated like any other married couple who are grieving the death of a stillborn baby. I am appalled that your office erased Jenny’s name from Brayden’s death certificate. It is a shocking display of heartless cruelty. Shame on you.
Jenny and Jessica proudly served our nation in Iraq and continue to serve in the Army Reserve. We ask that you similarly serve all Iowans and issue an accurate fetal death certificate immediately.
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