A New Respect for the Unborn in Canada



June 17, 2008

By Tim Waggoner

OTTAWA, June 17, 2008 ( – As the Quebec government prepares to present a bill to the National Assembly that seeks to end the practice of hospitals treating fetuses under 500 grams as biomedical waste, Ontario is, according to an as-yet unconfirmed report, gearing up for a newly instituted “Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day”, which will take place annually on October 15. The October 15 Awareness Day is already recognized nationally in the United States, but will be a new innovation for Canada if the tip received by is well-founded.


As reported by, Quebec’s Department of Health and Social Services intends on tabling a bill before the National Assembly as early as September.  The department’s action will amend the law concerning hospital funeral practices for fetuses under 500 grams.

Currently, most hospitals dispose of such fetuses by incinerating them along with other waste tissues. The government initiative, however, seeks to propagate a practice that is becoming more popular in several Quebec Hospitals.

The hospital-Pierre Boucher in Longueuil, has a funeral director incinerate all fetuses, including embryos, and place them in an urn in a columbarium.

Likewise, the Hospital Sainte-Justine, pending ratification by its board of director, has recently revised its policy on the matter, electing to direct all “identifiable fetuses” to the Mont-Royal cemetery, regardless of weight or length of life.

As reported by, Luc Gagnon, president of the Campaign Life Quebec, expressed his support for the practice of giving funerals to fetuses.

“Our association is quite favourable to these types of ceremonies,” he said.

Many support the government-proposed amendment, observing that it would minimize a mother’s pain, grief and guilt, which is only exacerbated by the thought of the body of her unborn child being incinerated with a medley of body parts.

In one case, nurse Manon Cyr heroically searched through 5 morgues to recuperate a fetus under 500 grams, who was 30 minutes away from being incinerated. She did so because a mother who had lost her child was overwhelmed by the thought of not knowing where the body of her baby was.

Cyr says that the fact that these babies end up with amputated members and are “thrown in the trash” complicates the mourning process and adds to the mother’s sense of guilt.

Suzy Fréchette-Piperni, author of Rêves Envolés (Dreams Flown Away) a book on perinatal mourning, commented on the fact that many mothers, being in a state of shock after the loss of their unborn baby, do not think about what the hospital does with the body of their child until it is too late: “It’s not until months later that they ask themselves: what did the hospital do with my baby?”

The proposed bill that would allow fetuses under 500 grams to be treated with proper respect, along with the unconfirmed reports of Ontario’s instituting the October 15 “Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day” are reviving hope that the unborn child will be treated with greater respect in Canada.

In related news, advocates of private members bill C-484, the Unborn Victims of Crime Bill, received further support in form of the Centre for Reproductive Loss, which, for over fifteen years, has provided grief care support services to bereaved mothers and fathers whose lives have been affected by miscarriages, stillbirths, infertility and other related losses.

The centre released a statement giving their support to the bill,

“The traumatic loss of a woman’s unborn child by assault or violence intentionally inflicted upon her child, whom she holds dearer than even her own life, can give rise to serious health complications and consequences,” read the statement.
The statement detailed the many sufferings only a mother who has experienced the loss of an unborn child can understand: “The additional traumatic nature of this loss can intensify, compound and prolong her grief. She may suffer from a profound clinical depression or manifest post-traumatic stress disorder. As well, her ability to have other children may be seriously compromised, should she survive the attack, as indeed this may have been the one and only time she would be able to conceive.”
The statement concluded by invoking support for bill C-484. 

“Supporting the Unborn Victims of Crime Act would be a compassionate response not only by validating her horror at losing the child but also by recognizing the grief of her other family members.”
“Furthermore, support for the Bill may also prevent future reproductive loss due to aggression and assault, by serving as a deterrent to predators who seek, against a woman’s will, to take away her reproductive choice to be pregnant and to carry her child to term,” added the statement.

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