What is the difference between a spontaneous fetal death and an induced termination of pregnancy (ITOP/abortion)? How do I obtain a copy of a fetal death report?

Fetal Death
A fetal death is defined as a non-induced death prior to the complete expulsion or extraction from its mother of a fetus, irrespective of the duration of pregnancy, the death is indicated by fact that after such expulsion or extraction the fetus does not breathe or show any other evidence of life such as beating of the heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord, or definite movement of voluntary muscles.

Each spontaneous fetal death of twenty (20) completed weeks gestation or more, calculated from the date of last normal menstrual period began to the date of delivery, or a weight of three hundred fifty (350) grams or more which occurs in Missouri shall be reported.

If a report of spontaneous fetal death is filed with the state, a copy of the report may be requested by filing an application with the Bureau of Vital Records. If desired, either parent, or if both parents are deceased, a sibling of the stillborn child, also have the right to file an application requesting a “certificate of birth resulting in stillbirth”, which is created from information in the report of spontaneous fetal death.

If a spontaneous fetal death occurs, neither a birth certificate nor a death certificate shall be filed or issued—only a report of spontaneous fetal death, and if desired, a certificate of birth resulting in stillbirth certificate are available.

Request a copy: To request a copy of a report of spontaneous fetal death or a certificate of birth resulting in stillbirth, complete an application either in-person or by mail.

Induced Termination of Pregnancy (ITOP)
An induced termination of pregnancy (ITOP), also known as an abortion, is defined as the intentional destruction of life of an embryo or fetus in his or her mother’s womb or the intentional termination of pregnancy of a mother with an intention other than to increase the probability of a live birth or to remove a dead or dying unborn child.

Information received from the Report of Induced Termination of Pregnancy and the Complication Report for Post-Abortion Care are confidential, only used for statistical purposes, and to preserve maternal health and life by adding to the sum of medical knowledge through the compilation of relevant maternal health and life data and to monitor all abortions performed to assure that they are done only under and in accordance with the provisions of the law.

For more general information regarding these terms, visit the National Center for Health Statistics.

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