House Study Bill 660 passed through an Iowa House Human Resources committee meeting on Tuesday. The bill amends provisions in Code to establish a process for a woman to direct the final disposition of bodily remains following a fetal death.
The bill provides that when a fetal death occurs in an institution or medical facility, the individual in charge of the institution or medical facility shall inform the woman that the woman may determine the final disposition of the bodily remains.
When the bodily remains are the result of an induced termination of pregnancy, a spontaneous termination of pregnancy or a stillbirth, disposition may be only by burial, interment or cremation.
In addition, the bill requires a fetal death certificate to be filed for each fetal death that happens after 12 weeks of gestation.
Currently, fetal death certificates are required for 20 weeks of gestation.
“The remains are not to be treated as medical waste because this is a baby,” said Rep. Anne Osmundson (R-Volga). “This baby, it needs to be treated with dignity.”
Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell (D-Ames) said this bill is particularly difficult because it impacts a broad segment of women who have suffered a loss.
Wessel-Kroeschel asked if there is a legal reason to have these fetal death certificates.
“I’m still trying to figure out what the legal purpose is,” she said.
There are bad players, Wessel-Kroeschell said, and she acknowledged one was discovered in Indiana. But she recommended a no vote.
Osmundson said the bill helps mothers get a fetal death certificate for any miscarriage and also helps prevent bad actors who are holding fetal remains.
“It treats the remains of a miscarriage stillbirth or abortion as a child, not as medical waste,” she said.
The bill passed 11-10.