COURT CASE: Death Certificate Lawsuit

A judge heard arguments Friday morning in the case of a Davenport same-sex couple.

The two woman have filed a lawsuit against the Iowa Department of Public Health to have the death certificate of their late son changed to include both moms names.

Jenny and Jessica Buntemeyer had everything ready for their son’s arrival.

The married couple becoming pregnant via in vitro fertilization, and last year Jessica gave birth to Brayden, but he died just before labor.

On the death certificate, Jessica filled out the boxes for mother and Jenny for father, since there were no other options.

When the certificate was issued, Jenny’s name was deleted.

“I don’t claim to be the father nor have I tried to be the father this entire time, we’re both the mother’s it’s my egg and she gave birth to him, how can you deny us the title of mother to either of us,” says Jenny Buntemeyer.

The couple with help from Lambda Legal went to court suing the Iowa Department of Public Health to have both names listed on the death certificate.

The department says it omitted Jenny’s name because the certificate is used to collect data and listing the second woman wouldn’t be accurate.

“What’s important to those researchers is biological information about the father, so that’s the information that the department sees as meaningful and relevant and seeks to collect,” says Heather Adams who is representing the Iowa Department of Public Health.

The Buntemeyer’s attorney’s asked the judge to not only have a new death certificate issued for them, but to change the form completely so this doesn’t happen to another  Iowa family.

“The definition of family I think is love, it doesn’t matter biology…we shouldn’t have to deal with this,” says Jessica Buntemeyer.

The judge will take into account both sides and will make a written ruling. That decision could take up to two months.

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