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Bill Would Give Parents Option To Decide What To Do With Their Child's Remains After Miscarriage Or Abortion

HARRISBURG, Pa. (KDKA) -- A bill that would give parents the option to decide what they want to do with their child's remains after a miscarriage or abortion passed the Pennsylvania House Health Committee in Harrisburg last week.

The bill is called the Unborn Child Dignity Act and the story behind it is personal.

State Rep. Frank Ryan of Lebanon County, who introduced this bill, said he knows that pain firsthand. He and his wife lost a baby many years ago.

"I asked specifically if I can do this bill because I don't know if moms understand how much we as men feel such tremendous pain when we see in your eyes the loss and the pain," said Rep. Ryan.

Right now, he said health providers follow certain protocols when it comes to the disposal of fetal remains. However, he said his bill would give women the option to choose what they want to do with them.

"This is not mandatory. It's based on a voluntary action of the mom that would want the child. If a parent is silent on it and says nothing, the hospital would continue to deal with the remains as they currently due do to protocols," said Ryan.

Other lawmakers like Dan Frankel, who is the Democratic chair of the Health Committee in the Pa. House, disagrees.

"It would require women who have a miscarriage or terminate a pregnancy to go through with the procedure of getting a death certificate, arranging for fetal burial or cremation without any respect to their personal feelings or religious beliefs," said Frankel.

Frankel added that this is an unnecessary burden for women who are already grieving a loss. Ryan disagrees and argues a death certificate would not be required under his bill, reiterating this would be a choice, with the option to do nothing at all.

"If someone wishes to take the remains, there's a form given so you can remove the remains from the hospital. But it's not a death certificate. It's not mandated," said Ryan.

Frankel said the process needs to be left alone.

"Right now, the system works fine. Women can make their own decisions on how to deal with a miscarriage or abortion," said Frankel.

The bill is expected to move to the House floor next week. Governor Tom Wolf said politics does not belong in the doctor's office and he will veto the bill if it makes it to his desk.

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