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New legislation would give tax break to Wisconsin parents of stillborn babies

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Courtesy: Rebecca Markert / WKOW Courtesy: Rebecca Markert / WKOW

Madison (WKOW) -- There's a new push in Wisconsin to make life a little easier for families who've lost their children to stillbirth. A bill is currently looking for co-sponsors that would give those parents a tax break, but many families who've experienced stillbirth say it's not about the money. 

Rebecca Markert is the proud mother of four children. They're happy as can be as they as they dance to one of their favorite toys in the living room. It's a robot that sings songs, dances, then it freezes every couple seconds and so do the kids. 

But the laughter and dancing only comes from three children in the house. 

"There were bad outcomes, but you never expect it's going to be you. That happens to other people, that doesn't happen to me," Markert said. 

But the unimaginable did happen to her and her husband. Their first child, Lily, didn't make it. Rebecca went to the hospital on Mother's Day in 2010.

"They were not able to stop labor and she was born that evening at 20 weeks and one day gestation. And she didn't have a heartbeat," Markert explained.

The pain is at times still visible and raw. Lily has been gone for 7 year now. But the short time they had with her still lives on in the memories kept in a box and pictures inside a scrapbook. Her ashes are kept inside an urn that sits on Rebecca's nightstand next to her picture and the blanket she was wrapped in after her birth. 

"I just want her close to me," Markert said. "It can't be put into words. I think the death of a child is so devastating and it's unlike any other grief."

It's why she and her husband, as well as several other parents in Wisconsin, are pushing for new legislation that would give parents of stillborn babies a $2,000 tax break. 

But for the families, it's not about the money. 

"When you are grieving the loss of a baby, you really are also searching for affirmation that the baby existed," Markert said. 

State Representative Joan Ballweg is a co-sponsor of the bill. She says the money would go towards bereavement costs, medial bills and funeral expenses. 

"It would be an extra expense, but if that baby was born alive, a parent would get basically the same kind of contribution," Ballweg said. 

It's a contribution that Rebecca knows will never bring her daughter back, but it's a bill that would finally recognize so many children like Lily. 

"That their child mattered and what they experienced is real," Markert said. 

For anyone who has lost a child to stillbirth, you can get support at Bereaved Parents of Madison

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