Two UK hospitals incinerated the remains of dead babies for heat

Another 10 hospitals incinerated remains as part of standard garbage disposal protocol. Treat the unborn as “medical waste” and don’t be surprised when some facilities take that idea to its logical conclusion.

The Telegraph’s headline implies that incineration was reserved for aborted babies, as some sort of final ghoulish indignity for the unwanted, but the story says the policy was broader than that. Miscarried fetuses ended up being burned too.

Last night the Department of Health issued an instant ban on the practice which health minister Dr Dan Poulter branded ‘totally unacceptable.’…

One of the country’s leading hospitals, Addenbrooke’s in Cambridge, incinerated 797 babies below 13 weeks gestation at their own ‘waste to energy’ plant. The mothers were told the remains had been ‘cremated.’

Another ‘waste to energy’ facility at Ipswich Hospital, operated by a private contractor, incinerated 1,101 foetal remains between 2011 and 2013.

They were brought in from another hospital before being burned, generating energy for the hospital site. Ipswich Hospital itself disposes of remains by cremation.

How do you process this story if you’re a pro-choicer? I can imagine three camps. One is the “so what?” group. If “life” doesn’t begin until viability (or birth, for the hardcore abortion warrior), then yeah, this is medical waste. You don’t cremate tumors, do you? Toss it in the incinerator. Next is the group that wants to distinguish between miscarried babies and the aborted. The parents of the former saw a life in the making even if pro-choicers didn’t; the remains should thus be treated with due decorum, as a consolation to the bereaved. The remains of the aborted needn’t be similarly respected. Finally, there’s the group that’s uncomfortable with treating fetal remains as waste (or fuel) under any circumstances. I don’t know how to square that with the idea that life begins at viability, though. To do it, you need to move from the standard pro-choice position that what’s growing in the womb isn’t really “life” to the position that yes, okay, it’s human life, but abortion is a form of justifiable homicide. Then you can treat the remains with the dignity due, say, an executed prisoner. But most pro-choicers are obviously reluctant to make that move; once you concede that a life is at stake, you’re on dangerous ground politically.

Anyway, question for our three lefty readers: Which group are you in?