One of the most startling stories of the week appeared in the Telegraph which reported that the bodies of thousands of aborted and miscarried babies were incinerated as clinical waste, with some even used to heat hospitals.
According to the report ten NHS trusts have admitted burning the bodies of the aborted and miscarried babies, which are described simply as ‘foetal remains’, alongside other rubbish while two others used the bodies in ‘waste-to-energy’ plants which generate power for heat.
The UK Department of Health issued an instant ban on the practice which was described by health minister Poulter as being ‘totally unacceptable.’
According to the article which was published in advance of a Channel 4 dispatches programme on the issue, at least 15,500 'foetal remains' were incinerated by 27 NHS trusts over the last two years.
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.
The programme a Channel 4 Dispatches programme aired on Monday also found that parents who lose children in early pregnancy were often treated without compassion and were not consulted about what they wanted to happen to the remains.
Paul Tully, General Secretary of Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) issued the following statement on the revelations in the programme.
“We welcome the efforts of those who have highlighted these appalling practices, but we insist that the answer is not as simple as having a new code of practice or better ways of treating babies’ remains. We must stop killing babies like these by abortion and then we will know how to respect the dead.“The way we treat those who have died is important, yet parents who lose a baby by miscarriage or abortion are rarely consulted over the disposal of the baby’s remains.“The reluctance to consult families in these situations is undoubtedly linked to our barbaric abortion policies, even if sometimes after late abortions everyone admits that the baby is a baby and tries at least to respect his or her remains.“There are two issues at stake here. One is the feelings of the parents, and the other is the respect due to the dead – in this case a dead unborn child, killed by abortion or who has died as a result of spontaneous miscarriage.“Some argue that because very early spontaneous miscarriage is not marked by social ceremony, and may be unrecognised by the mother herself, this indicates that the human embryo is not a person. This approach is used to argue for an arbitrary time before which the unborn are treated as non-persons.“In fact the unborn has all the essential attributes of a person from conception, even though some characteristics take months or years to develop fully. If we feel differently about the unborn, it is simply because he or she is a stranger – someone we have not yet met or developed affection for.“Until we reject the abortion culture and learn to honour all mothers – including expectant mothers and bereaved mothers - the sickening consequences of aborting over 500 babies every day will continue to resurface and unsettle us.”