No, women will not be fined for having a miscarriage.
There has been some serious misinformation spreading about the Unborn Child Dignity Act and what it would do.
This bill – House Bill 118 – would prevent health care facilities and abortion clinics from treating children who have died in utero or from an abortion as medical waste. It places no burdens or costs on the parents; it simply gives parents options to help in any grieving process.
1) This bill does NOT force women to do anything.
The burden is on healthcare facilities to bury or cremate the remains of unborn children who have passed away and to give parents an option to be involved in the process. The Unborn Child Dignity Act does not force grieving parents who have lost their child to do anything and does not apply to anyone outside of a healthcare facility. What changes is requiring healthcare facilities to show dignity to these children and to provide parents with compassionate choices.
2) This bill does not require a death certificate or make any woman have to pay for a death certificate.
The Center for Disease Control requires a healthcare facility to register a fetal death occurring after 16 weeks gestation for statistical purposes. Registering a death to keep track of fetal and maternal mortality is very different from a death certificate. Nothing in the proposed bill changes what is in the existing statute with respect to this recording process.
3) No parent is forced to do or pay for anything.
There are no fees in the proposed bill. It would be the duty of the healthcare facility to provide for the final disposition of the deceased unborn child through either burial or cremation; in the same manner they would do with any other human being. There are fines against the health care facility if they do not permit the parents to make a decision.
The only provision in the bill that applies to parents and financial costs is if the family makes a decision to take the child’s remains. As the bill states, “if a parent of the unborn child selects a location for the final disposition of the fetal remains other than a location that is usual and customary for a healthcare facility, the parent shall be responsible for the costs relating to the final disposition of the fetal remains.” Additionally, this decision does need to be recorded in order to prevent any liability against the healthcare facility later if the parent claims that wasn’t the choice they made.
Even Snopes, which has been historically left-leaning, called out the claims about fines for miscarriages and death certificates as false: “Pennsylvania law ‘does not require patients themselves to register fetal deaths, or file, obtain or pay for a fetal death certificate, and it does not fine them for having a miscarriage,’ and the bill wouldn’t change that..”
For further clarification, we encourage you to read the three-page bill here.