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HSE: Some aborted babies remains come under “waste disposal policies”

The HSE has said that  in some instances where a decision has not been made by the woman in regard to the disposal of the remains of an aborted baby, the body will be dealt with “in line with hospital healthcare risk waste disposal policies”. 

Pro-life groups said that the revelation echoed the instruction on the HSE’s website for women taking the abortion pill outside a hospital setting, where women were told they should flush the aborted baby’s body down the toilet.

Life Institute spokeswoman Megan Ní Scealláin said that the “dehumanising of the most vulnerable people in our society – unborn babies – had introduced a new cruelty into Ireland’s health service.”

“We live at a time when we know more than ever before about the amazing story of our life before birth,” she said. “Yet we’re also seeing a clinical and cold-hearted cruelty towards tiny human beings that is being driven by  the authorities and by the establishment and which doesn’ help women.”

“I’ve listened to women who’ve spoken of their shock and horror to find that their baby’s remains – not a clump of cells – were clearly visible after an abortion, and they were expected to just flush the toilet. It’s horrific. We need to give women real choices, not just push abortion as society’s way of just covering up a failure to treat women with respect,” she said.

The HSE said that hospital disposal policies are in place to ensure that ‘pregnancy remains’ are treated with respect regardless of the circumstances of the loss or abortion, and that women are informed that there are handling options available to them.

The information was provided to Independent TD for Laois-Offaly, Carol Nolan, after she asked Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, to provide details of the policies and procedures in place in relation to the treatment of the remains of unborn children whose lives are ended under sections 9, 10 and 11 of the Health (Regulation of Termination of Pregnancy) Act 2018.

Replying to the PQ, the HSE said that a central principle of the Health Service Executive and all service providers is that “all products of conception are dealt with respectfully regardless of the circumstances e.g. abortion, miscarriage etc.

The HSE further noted that all patients presenting for abortions in the acute hospital sector are clearly informed of the options available on individual hospital sites including incineration and/or hospital burial and/or private burial, and informed consent is received in each individual case.

In relation to abortions undertaken in the early stages of pregnancies within the acute hospital sector, the HSE say that “the products of conception are ordinarily managed in line with existing processes in place for the management of early miscarriages.”

However, for abortions undertaken in the latter stages of pregnancies in hospitals as provided for under the Act in relation to so called ‘fatal fetal anomalies’, this will result in many circumstances in the patient seeking to undertake personal arrangements for example burial, or alternatively the hospital arranging burial in its designated plot:

“Where a woman has not made a decision about the pregnancy remains within a locally specified and pre-notified period, the hospital responsible for the woman’s care will arrange in line with hospital healthcare risk waste disposal policies.”

The HSE went on to say that hospital staff and practitioners should be aware of their unit’s guidelines and should explain the options available for disposal of the ‘pregnancy remains.’ This will be done in a sensitive manner, they say.

For the purposes of clarification, the HSE that under the Human Tissue Bill, there is no distinction between the disposal of pregnancy remains and the disposal of other tissue from a living person:

“Pregnancy remains are regarded as the tissue of the woman. A National Contract is in place for the Provision of Hazardous Healthcare Risk Waste Services to the Public Sector. The contract duration is 96 months, running from the 2nd of April 2019 to the 1st of April 2027.,” they said.

This piece was first published on Gript.

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