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Humane Disposition of Miscarried and Aborted Babies

S.B. 422-423   Sen. Jason Allen
H.B. 4647-4648  Rep. Bill Huizenga

Current Status
This two bill package is designed to enhance existing Michigan law to properly dispose of the bodies of miscarried and aborted babies. S.B. 422-423 were introduced by Sen. Allen on 4/19/07 and were referred to the Senate Committee on Health Policy. H.B. 4647-4648 were introduced by Rep. Huizenga on 4/24/07and referred to the House Committee on Judiciary.


Background
Note: Some of the descriptions may be disturbing
Three particular concerns have arisen which warrant legal changes. First, when a miscarriage occurs in a health facility, there have been times when the body is not made available to the family for a possible funeral or final disposition, and occasionally the baby is ‘lost’.

Secondly, there is no specific law governing the proper disposition of miscarried or stillborn babies outside a health facility. When two Macomb County teenagers induced a miscarriage in the 6th month of the girl’s pregnancy by assaulting the girl with a baseball bat, the baby’s body was buried in the father’s backyard. The prosecutor claimed that the family’s action to bury the child is not illegal because the child is not considered a ‘person’, and laws governing disposition of a born person’s body do not apply.

Third, aborted baby bodies and body parts fall under the definition of ‘pathological waste’ in the Michigan Public Health Code and are disposed of as such. For most first term abortions, the bodies are ground up in a medical type of ‘garbage disposal’ and flushed into the sanitary sewer system. In some areas, the possibility of large amounts of rainwater overwhelming the storm drain system and combining with sewer flow, could result in aborted baby body parts being washed into rivers or steams. This method of disposition is a hazard to the environment, not to mention a disrespectful and undignified handling of human remains.

A key provision of this legislation is to determine that the miscarried or aborted body is at least identifiable with anatomical parts supported by bone or cartilage. When the miscarriage or abortion takes place very early in the pregnancy, this law would not apply.

S.B. 423 and H.B. 4648 would amend the Public Health Code to exclude the body or body parts of an aborted child from the definition of ‘pathological waste’, so they could not be flushed into the sewer system.

S.B. 422 and H.B.4647 would required that fetal remains be given final disposition by either burial, cremation or entombment. In the case of miscarriage or stillbirths in a health facility, the wishes of the parents must be followed. Failure to do so would result in an investigation, a possible fine and/or court action by the parents in they choose. If a miscarriage occurs outside of a health facility, the state law would require the body to be buried, cremated or entombed if the baby is beyond the early weeks of pregnancy.

Abortion providers would be required to arrange for fetal remains to be buried, cremated or entombed. Women aborting their children would not have to be informed regarding the disposition process.

History
The identical legislation, S.B. 1014-1015 were introduced by Sen. Jason Allen on 1/16/06 and referred to the Senate Health Policy Committee. H.B. 5645-5646 were introduced on 2/7/06 by Rep. Bill Huizenga and referred to the House Health Policy Committee. The bills never were scheduled for a hearing.

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