Sharon Hodgson MP: Twenty years on, Lucy’s legacy lives on through my work as an MP

Sharon Hodgson's emotional speech moved other MPs to tears.
Sharon Hodgson's emotional speech moved other MPs to tears.

Last week, I delivered the most difficult speech I have ever given in the House of Commons during my 13 years as a Member of Parliament.

I spoke about my own experiences after the birth of my daughter, Lucy, who sadly arrived into the world stillborn.

Since my speech, I have received messages of love and kindness from all over the country and my story has even reached the Netherlands and Italy.

I have also received messages from other families who, like me, have experienced the heartbreak of losing a baby and were distressed to find that they were unable to register their birth and death because they were born before the 24-week gestation threshold.

To the law, these babies did not officially exist.

But to the families who have felt the excitement of expecting a baby, have felt the baby moving and have given birth, their baby did exist.

That is why something has to change, so that no stillborn baby before 24 weeks is ever made to not officially exist.

This is something Tim Loughton MP’s Private Members Bill on Civil Partnerships (Etc.) Bill hopes to achieve, and something I have campaigned for with my cross-party colleagues on the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Baby Loss.

Losing a baby is not party political, and together members of the APPG have raised many issues in Parliament since our late night meeting back in 2015, about baby loss and is an exemplar of cross-party working at its best.

With the help of charities, such as the Lullaby Trust and SANDS, families who have lost a baby are now able to have the care and support I, and many others, never had.

Thanks to developments in healthcare, babies born too soon and before 24 weeks now survive in much greater numbers than ever before.

But babies stillborn before 24 weeks deserve recognition of their existence in the law.

Twenty years on, Lucy’s legacy lives on through my work as an MP. I hope that my speech persuades the Government to make this important change so that families who have experienced this tragedy know that, within the law, their baby officially did exist.