According to those people who oppose abortion rights to women, it’s normal and even helpful for women to bury their fetuses no matter the situation. But, for people who understand how traumatic it could be, it is additional pain imposed on women.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed one anti-abortion bill in March last year that would have basically forced women to seek funerary services for a fetus — whether she’d had an abortion or a miscarriage, and no matter how far along the pregnancy was. It was eventually blocked from going into effect by a federal judge for violating women’s right to choose.
The problem is that a Catholic Indiana hospital has been pressuring patients to do this for years and later they made it a law, according to an article from Rewire:
[Kate] Marshall, a University of Notre Dame English professor who wanted nothing more than to have a baby, planned to send the fetal remains for testing, hoping to understand what had caused her miscarriage and thus avoid having another. She also did not want her fetus buried in a grave as if it were a full-grown person.
But the chaplain scorned her decision, Marshall told Rewire in an interview.
Gutted by the sudden loss of her pregnancy, and conscious every moment of the dead fetus that was still inside her body, Marshall asked him to leave five times before he finally did, according to a written complaint she filed with regulators the next day.
Then the second chaplain entered her room.
More aggressive than the first, she refused to leave, and accused Marshall of “sending my baby’s remains into a medical slush pile,” Marshall wrote in her complaint.
St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in Indiana has an optional program called In God’s Arms, which allows patients to participate in a ceremony to honor their lost pregnancies. It could be useful for people who want to grieve over their loss in this way but, on the other hand, imposing these practices on everyone who loses or ends a pregnancy can cause profound shame and distress, according to the Rewire:
“The abuses of these clergy members significantly exacerbated what already was a very stressful and emotionally devastating experience,” Marshall wrote in her complaint. “I am aware that the ‘In God’s Arms’ program can be helpful to many patients, but in this case it was invasive and damaging.”
The program’s coordinator and the second chaplain to enter Marshall’s room, Linda DeHahn, explained how fetal remains were treated before the In God’s Arms program began in 2006: “The babies got handled the same way tissues from surgery get handled: They go to the lab and they go out for incineration, basically,” DeHahn told Rewire, her face registering her distress. “As a Catholic facility and organization we just felt that didn’t reflect who we were. And even if other people don’t respect life, we feel like we need to.”
Kate Marshall felt morally condemned by DeHahn and the other chaplain because she felt somehow it’s her fault that she has lost her child.
Photo Credits: Wikimedia