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Government introduces certificate to recognise life lost before 24 weeks

In a recent Government response to a Pregnancy Loss Review, baby loss certificates are being introduced for lives lost before 24 weeks gestation. 

“Recognition of life lost”

Maria Caulfield MP, Women’s Minister, introduced the Government’s response as a means of helping families to deal with the pain of lives “cruelly cut short”. 

An immediate action that the Government is implementing is the introduction of a certificate of baby loss in “recognition of life lost” before 24 weeks. The optional certificate will provide official recognition of the loss of the child in the womb, though the response makes it clear that this is not a legal document. 

Dignified treatment of remains

In the past, tragic stories have been shared of women who have been told to retrieve the remains of their baby from the toilet or to store them in the fridge. The Government has now committed to a review of guidance on the sensitive handling of remains so that women and families are not asked to treat the remains of any babies they have lost as “waste products”. 

Other recommendations include allowing women to receive treatment if they experience recurrent miscarriages, increasing funding for bereavement support related to baby loss, granting bereavement leave for staff who experience baby loss before 24 weeks, and improving information about baby loss in healthcare settings. 

“Gross contradiction” in attitude to baby loss and abortion

Right To Life UK spokesperson Catherine Robinson said “The loss of every life causes great sadness, no matter at what point this happens. We welcome the Government’s increased recognition of the value of life in the womb before 24 weeks through the recommendations laid out in this response”. 

“These recommendations however do not go far enough and demonstrate a gross contradiction in the Government’s attitude to babies in the womb. Whilst the lives of babies lost through miscarriage are now rightly being recognised, the hundreds of thousands of babies lost to abortion every year in the UK are not”.

In the UK, babies can be aborted for any reason up to 24 weeks and up to birth in cases of fetal disability. It is no surprise that families are not offered emotional support for baby loss before 24 weeks when, in other circumstances, ending a baby’s life through abortion before 24 weeks is considered by some as a right rather than a tragedy. Babies lost to abortion are too frequently dehumanised rather than valued”.

“The UK abortion law needs to be changed urgently to reflect the humanity of every child in the womb from the moment of conception”.  

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