Workers in a Gatineau medical-refuse disposal plant for incineration have found the partly decomposed body of a baby. Evidence showed that the infant at birth would have weighed 1200 grams – just over two pounds. Traced through a hospital bracelet, it was discovered to have been a stillborn child sent with “other hospital waste such as amputated limbs, organs, old bandages and medication” for incineration from Royal Victoria Hospital, Montreal.
The Criminal Code of Canada makes it an offence to “neglect, without lawful excuse, to perform any duty imposed by law with reference to the burial of a human body or human remains.” The provincial law in Quebec stipulates that stillborn babies, and aborted fetuses heavier than 500 grams, be treated as any human body with proper burial and cremation.
A representative for the hospital said that the staff had been unaware of the regulations concerning the weight of stillborn babies, and had their bodies sent to the incinerator, “along with other waste,” when the parents requested this. However, this procedure will now change. What will happen to aborted fetuses? Presumably they too rank as hospital waste.
Some hospitals do not incinerate stillborn babies, regardless of size. The bodies are turned over to the family to make arrangements with a funeral home.