Abortion advocates have recently released a flood of outlandish and deceptive claims intended to defeat and discredit efforts to ensure that deceased infants receive dignified and respectful treatment. Many in the media have joined the abortion industry’s hysterical crusade, castigating these infant dignity laws as clandestine abortion regulations designed to shutter clinics and deny women choices. Even in death, unborn infants receive no respect from an abortion industry anxious to portray such human beings as trash.
In reality, these laws do not address, much less regulate, a woman’s access to abortion. Infant dignity laws give families more choices when grieving the loss of their tiniest members.
The Need for Infant Dignity Laws
States began considering “infant dignity” laws in response to diverse and tragic occurrences—some of which followed abortions, and many that did not. Hospitals refused to release miscarried infants’ remains to their mothers for burial, families were unable to obtain certificates of stillbirth because their infants were miscarried too early, and, not surprisingly, deceased infants’ body parts were discovered in dumpsters behind abortion clinics.
Americans United for Life’s Unborn Infants Dignity Act, which state legislators frequently consult, addresses these tragedies by regulating the actions of health-care “institutions,” not patients. The model law requires abortion clinics, hospitals, and other medical facilities to offer women the opportunity to bury or cremate their deceased unborn children when the children have reached a stage of development where they have recognizable body parts. If a woman does not choose to make these arrangements, the institution must simply obtain her consent before disposing of her infant’s remains.
The institution is then required to ensure that an infant’s remains are cremated or buried—not incinerated, tossed in dumpsters, or flushed through a sewer system with medical waste. A mother who suffers miscarriage or stillbirth has the additional option of donating her infant’s remains in compliance with her state’s Anatomical Gifts Act.
Pretty straightforward, right? In fact, most accusations against infant dignity laws disappear when one takes the time to actually read the language. Women are not required to collect tissue in their homes following early miscarriages or chemical abortions. Families need not plan funeral services against their wishes—a simple signature agreeing to the final disposition of their infant’s remains is all that is required.
For many families, however, the laws provide a welcome, official recognition of their loss, and an opportunity to make the same choices for their deceased unborn infants that they may make for any other deceased family member.
Opposition Arguments Are Mostly Falsehoods
Undeterred by the facts, abortion advocates falsely claim that crematoriums are unable to accommodate the tiny bodies of deceased unborn infants. Such an assertion is ludicrous, given that crematoriums already cremate the bodies of infants who die prematurely and miscarried or stillborn infants at certain gestations. Infant dignity laws ensure that families of unborn infants who die at younger gestations are able to cremate or bury their children.
Abortion advocates’ contentions that they cannot comply with infant dignity laws because they are vague or too costly are also patently ridiculous. The Eighth Circuit rejected a claim that an infant dignity law in Minnesota was vague because, at times, it might be difficult to determine the need for compliance (i.e., in some first-trimester abortions). Like the AUL model, the Minnesota law requires burial or cremation once an infant has “cartilaginous structures” and “fetal or skeletal parts.” The court held that, while these cases may present challenges, “marginal cases cannot defeat the statute.”
The AUL model does not specifically designate who bears the cost of final disposition when families do not request the release of their infants’ remains. Logically, the institution, which already bears the costs of disposing of fetal tissue, should pay for a more dignified final disposition. While abortion advocates argue this cost will be passed on to patients or will heavily burden clinics, institutions can enter arrangements to ensure that any cost increase is nominal. The Eighth Circuit provided a useful example—a hospital individually packed and stored infant remains, then boxed them for group disposal. The cost was $50 per box.
Fundamentally, infant dignity laws serve two purposes. First, they provide families closure and the opportunity to grieve. Second they ensure that the remains of unborn infants are not treated the same as discarded blood, tissue, or body parts removed from medical facilities, bedding, bandages, or syringes. Human beings deserve to be treated with dignity and respect at death. Human bodies should not be intermingled with waste at their final resting places.
Infant dignity laws do not regulate abortion, but the abortion industry’s vehement opposition to their enactment is telling. Abortion providers have spent decades striving to convince women—and themselves—that an abortion removes nothing but a “product of conception.” But you do not bury or cremate a placenta or umbilical cord.
The enactment of an infant dignity law recognizes the scientific fact that an infant who dies from abortion is no different than an infant lost through miscarriage. That acknowledgement eviscerates the heart of many arguments abortion advocates use to justify their grisly trade.