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CROWN POINT, Ind. (AP) — Several women in a northwest Indiana county say they have been denied birth certificates for their stillborn babies.

Parents of stillborn babies have been eligible under state law to receive birth certificates following a stillbirth since 2002, the Northwest Indiana Times reported.

However, multiple women say they were denied the certificates by the Lake County Health Department. Lake County is Indiana’s second most-populous county.

Nick Doffin, administrator for Lake County Health Department, said the office can issue birth certificates resulting in stillbirth as long as there’s a death certificate on file for the baby. He said the employee who denied the certificates was likely new and unaware of the procedure.

Jamie Lukas, who lost her baby after 20 weeks of pregnancy, is among those women. She said she was denied the certificate on two occasions.

“I was essentially told that since my baby was born dead, I couldn’t get a birth certificate,” said Lukas, 32. “I left because it was very upsetting to be told that.”

Heather Blythe, 30, also encountered a similar situation at the Porter County Health Department after giving birth to her stillborn daughter in September 2016. She said she was told that she was only eligible for a death certificate.

“I felt stupid and dismissed. It was a bad experience,” Blythe said. “What I went through was 100 percent child labor. I had a baby exit my body.”

Blyth said she continued advocating for herself until she acquired the certificate. She now wants to assist other women to do the same.

“No moms should have to go through what we went through and be denied pure, simple evidence of their child’s existence,” Blythe said.

Keith Letta, administrator for the Porter County Health Department, and Jayme Staggers, registrar for the LaPorte County Health Department, contended that their agencies issue birth certificates for stillborn babies.


Information from: The Times,