Burial After Miscarriage
Deciding how to handle such a tragic event can be very burdensome. We hope that this will be a valuable source of information about a topic that is seldom discussed.
The following are the policies of local Catholic hospitals on burying a miscarried child's remains or providing those remains to the child's parents for burial:
St. Joseph's Medical Center offers the mother/parents the option of leaving the fetal remains after any type of fetal loss, from a spontaneous miscarriage, D & C following fetal demise, or late term loss, to be buried at one of the hospital's twice-yearly fetal burial services. The remains are individually identified and tagged and kept in the morgue until the next burial occurs. Ruck Funeral Home donates its services, and the Sisters of St. Francis have donated a plot in Holy Redeemer Cemetery. Parents are invited to a simple service during which each child is named. There is no cost to parents for this service. For late term losses (23 weeks or more of gestation), parents may have a funeral home take the remains and have their own burial. Parents are not given the option of burying the remains themselves. If the parents give no instructions, the fetal remains are included in the next burial service.
Bon Secours Baltimore Health System does not have labor & delivery. However, in the event of a miscarriage in the emergency room, Bon Secours joins with St. Joseph's Medical Center for its fetal burial service.
If you feel strongly about burying your child, discuss the hospital's policy with your physician before undergoing any procedures.
If you miscarry at home, you may still have your child's remains buried.
Contact your pastor for information about a local funeral home or cemetery.
Many Catholic cemeteries will offer free burial services following miscarriage, but parents must arrange for some type of casket. Parents should talk to the physician ahead of time in order to ensure that the doctor or hospital is willing to release the child's remains to them for burial. The physician will then need to certify (by letter is usually fine) to the cemetery that what the family brings for burial is the "products of conception." This language is sometimes required to describe the child as a technicality by the cemetery for their burial procedures.
In the State of Maryland, a fetal death certificate will be issued if the unborn child dies after a gestation period of 20 weeks or more. See Maryland Health Code, Section 4-213.
If you have questions, please contact the Respect Life Office.