The Politics of Fetal Death

Depending on the country, region, or state where you live, how your miscarriage will be handled depends on local laws. Your ability to receive your baby’s remains also depends on these same laws. 

Before reading this, make sure you are truly interested. This information is about abortion law. It is not the intent of this site to say whether abortion is right or wrong, but only the let you know how these laws affect you when you lose a much wanted, much loved baby.

In places where abortion is legal, a baby cannot be considered a “person” until the age of viability, which is usually between 20 and 24 weeks of pregnancy. Before that point, a D&C or D&E may be legal whether the baby is alive or not. After that point, depending on the way the laws are written, no surgical removal of the baby that could kill it (even if it is already dead) can take place. Because of these laws, you cannot have the remains of your baby from a D&C or D&E procedure, since it is only “medical waste” and not a human being. This is absolutely harsh and terrible, but it is how the laws are done, partly due to the abortion issue, and partly to protect these fetuses from being used in scientific ways without governmental oversight.

Also because of these laws, you have no choice but to deliver your baby through labor once the age of viability has passed. Some doctors will use discretion to allow you a D&E if the baby’s growth size is significantly smaller than the age of pregnancy. This can put you below the viability window and avoid labor and delivery if you do not want it. Regardless of your pregnancy’s length, if you have a natural miscarriage at home or a labor and delivery birth at the hospital, you will get your baby’s remains. Seeing and holding your baby is an important factor in your decision, if you have a choice.

Some doctors have strong preferences regardless of what the law allows, and put you in the hospital for an induction even if your baby is below viability age. Regular ob/gyns are often not trained for surgical removal of babies larger than 15 weeks, and will induce rather than refer you to a doctor who can do it. This is often again, due to abortion law, because doctors who can perform a D&E on a large baby sometimes also perform late-term abortions. It can be very difficult to go to one of these doctors and sit in a room with people who are choosing to abort their babies. I have been there, and it was impossibly hard.

When these laws are written, they do not consider the rights and feelings of women who are suffering a loss.


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