House Committee Passes Ryan’s “Unborn Child Dignity Act”
5/27/2021
HARRISBURG ? This week, the House Health Committee advanced legislation sponsored by Rep. Frank Ryan (R-Lebanon) that would enable parents whose unborn children are lost to miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy or stillbirth the right to claim their child’s fetal remains for cremation or burial at their own expense.

More than 40-years ago, Ryan’s family suffered the loss of a child to miscarriage mid-term in the pregnancy. “It was a heartbreaking loss that was made even worse by the fact that we were unable to claim our son’s remains and give him the dignity of a proper burial,” said Ryan.

Under current law, an unborn child lost to miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy or stillbirth is treated as medical waste and disposed of without offering the parents the opportunity to provide for burial or cremation. House Bill 118 would give parents that right.
“My bill is similar to an Indiana law deemed constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court,” said Ryan.  “It would require health care facilities in possession of the remains of an unborn child to keep those remains separate from other medical waste. This gives parents the right, as well as the time, to select a location for interment or cremation at their own expense. 

“The bill is not intended to be burdensome to health care facilities or the parents. It merely gives parents the right to decide the final disposition of their unborn child’s remains. Parents may instead opt to permit the health care facility to bury or cremate the remains according to the facility’s customary methods. 

While Ryan’s bill does not require a death certificate, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) requires hospitals to record all fetal deaths occurring after 16 weeks gestation for statistical purposes. Ryan’s legislation would have no impact of the CDC’s definition of “fetal death.”

“Passage of this legislation would help to bring closure and some measure of peace to those who experience the loss of an unborn child,” Ryan said. 

Ryan’s legislation now goes to the full House for consideration. 

To view the text of House Bill 118, visit this link.


Representative Frank Ryan
101st Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

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