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Foetal incinerations at hospitals are ‘the fruit of fifty years of legal abortion in the UK,’ says MP

Jim Dobbin MP

A Labour MP has spoken of his revulsion following reports that bodies of thousands of unborn babies were incinerated on, and in some cases used to heat, hospital premises.

Jim Dobbin MP for Heywood and Middleton and co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group said: “Words cannot describe the revulsion I felt when I heard about this. This callous disregard for young humans is the fruit of fifty years of legal abortion in the UK, and it is no use pro-choice people wringing their hands about treating unborn babies as clinical waste when it is their relentless dehumanisation of unborn life that has led us to this point.

“We need a thorough re-examination of how the remains of aborted or miscarried babies are treated in medical facilities, and a commitment from the authorities to make real change.”

Following a documentary by Channel 4, 10 NHS trusts admitted burning the remains of unborn babies along with other waste, and two more trusts admitted to adding the bodies of unborn children, lost through abortion or miscarriage, to “waste-to-energy” plants which generate power for heat.

Following the disclosure, the Department of Health issued a complete ban on the practice and the health minister, Dr Dan Poulter, said that the incidents were “totally unacceptable”.

According to a Channel 4 Dispatches documentary, at least 15,500 foetal remains were incinerated by 27 NHS trusts over the last two years.

At Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, the remains of 797 unborn babies who died at 13 weeks were destroyed at their “waste to energy plant”. The mothers were informed that their children had been cremated.

A statement from Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (Addenbrooke’s) empahsised that foetal remains were not incinerated at the same time as clinical waste. It said: “Fetal tissue is never incinerated with clinical waste, or any other waste. Individual containers are carried by the hospital lead chaplain and the process is also witnessed by two members of staff who are specialists in bereavement care. Patients are treated with respect and sensitivity throughout this difficult time.

“The arrangements CUH has in place to dispose of fetal tissue comply with the recommendations of the Royal College of Nursing, the Human Tissue Authority, SANDS (Stillbirth and neonatal death charity) and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

“We believe that communication with women and their next of kin in a compassionate, open and effective manner is very important. Trained health professionals discuss the options with the patients and families respectfully and sensitively, both verbally and in writing, and individual arrangements are organised without any difficulty. The parents are given exactly the same choice on the disposal of fetal remains as for a stillborn child and their personal wishes are respected.

“If patients or their families do have any concerns they are encouraged to contact the Patient Advice and Liaison team.”

Prof Sir Mike Richards, chief inspector of hospitals, said: “I am disappointed trusts may not be informing or consulting women and their families.

“This breaches our standard on respecting and involving people who use services and I’m keen for Dispatches to share their evidence with us. We scrutinise information of concern and can inspect unannounced, if required.”

“If patients or their families do have any concerns they are encouraged to contact the Patient Advice and Liaison team.”

The Dispatches programme, Amanda Holden: Exposing Hospital Heartache, aired last night and can be watched here.