In 2011, the Founder of Elizabeth Ministry International (EMI), Jeannie Hannemann, asked if I would consider being a volunteer bereavement specialist for her organization. Since I had worked within the funeral and cemetery industry for over eight years, I believed I could make a contribution to her organization and agreed to become involved.
During 2012, I received a telephone call from the EMI headquarters, to see if I was available to help a woman in a nearby state. The details about this woman’s experience after her miscarriage were similar to other situations I had heard about, but it was the most unnerving situation I had ever been asked to become directly involved with.
This grieving mother actually witnessed the nurse put her baby’s fetal remains into a bright orange bio hazardous waste disposal bag and walk towards room’s bio hazardous waste container. She described how she went hysterical and began screaming and begging not to “throw her baby in the garbage.” When she told the medical staff that she wanted to bury her baby’s fetal remains, the hospital refused to release her baby’s fetal remains for burial.
After calling Jeannie to vent my anger about this woman’s situation, I told her “we” needed to do something to stop this from ever happening again. Jeannie’s response was “let’s do it!” In the October 2013, I was able to facilitate a workshop, featuring Jeannie as the main speaker, at St. Michael the Archangel Church, Schererville, IN.
The next day, a parishioner and an Indiana State Representative, Hal Slager ( R ), called to ask me what he could do to support my efforts. I told him that he needed to change the existing medical practice for the treatment of miscarried remains less than twenty (20) week gestation. He explained if I would provide him with documentation he would be willing to work on introducing legislation during the next upcoming session in January 2014.
On January 13, 2014, Rep. Slager authored House Bill 1190 – Treatment of Miscarried Remains. Indiana Senator Ed Charbonneau ( R ) sponsored the bill in the Senate. The bipartisan support of the bill allowed it to pass legislature with one opposing vote. Former Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed the bill into law on March 25, 2014, and participated in its ceremonial signing on May 28, 2014.
The law is codified as IC-
Providing information about miscarriage to mothers and others who grieve the loss of an unborn child.”
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