We owe unborn babies their funerals


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My wife and I lost our first child. We had an “answered abortion”. Our baby died in 6 weeks, which we learned from our 12-week ultrasound. While we were waiting for an abortion and mourning our baby, we did not know what to do with the remains. But a funeral seemed appropriate.

It’s not necessarily easy. When a woman undergoes a dilatation and curettage procedure, which removes tissue from the uterus, in a hospital, she has to insist that the staff give her the leftovers – “products of conception” in the medical language. If the leftovers are not given to the parents, they are often treated as medical waste and can be incinerated. Some women who have abortions at home flush out the leftovers.

We planned for it to happen at home, but we wanted more advice. So we went to church. We went into the confessional and asked the pastor what he should do. He said we could do a funeral if we wanted to, but it was not necessary. What surprised us most about this experience was that even though our large parish had many different ministries, held life events and had a funeral coordinator, it had no one to call to explain how to handle an abortion.

We approached a friend who forwarded our questions to her midwife. The midwife’s response helped us prepare. When my wife had an abortion, we put the little body in a bag in the freezer, and because we lived in an apartment, we asked our friend and her husband, who has many children of their own, if we could bury ours in their patio.

When we arrived at their house for the funeral, our friend had received an abortion kit from the Early Pregnancy Loss Association, a non-profit organization based in Hillsdale, Mich. The set contained a small wooden coffin and fabric to wrap the corpse along with a printed liturgy, as we said over the child. We named him before the funeral.

I poured boiling water on frozen ground near a small pine tree and dug the grave. We stood in the cold, praying the last prayers before laying the coffin in the ground. Later we learned that our friends’ children marked the grave with a tombstone.

Being open to life also means being open to death. More than 25% of pregnancies end in abortion, and although pro-life advocates have rightly focused on the principle that a human life begins at conception, they should also focus on honoring a person’s death through abortion.

Mr. Naida is assistant editor-in-chief at Journal.

Journal Editorial Report: Best and Worst of the Week by Kim Strassel, Kyle Peterson, Mene Ukueberuwa and Dan Henninger. Photos: AP / Bloomberg Composite: Mark Kelly

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Released in print on July 7, 2022 as ‘We Owe the Unborn Their Burials’.

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