This election cycle is ridiculous. The silver lining of it all seems to be that almost everyone I know is equally frustrated with the choices. However polarized these terrible options were supposed to make us, I think they may have actually drawn us closer together as Republicans and Democrats look across the aisle and say, “Yeah, I don’t like our candidate either.”
So I am no apologist for anybody’s campaign at this point, but I’m also not a fan of misinformation. I have been seeing some disturbing things said about Vice Presidential candidate Mike Pence and his attempt to force women to have “funerals” for the babies they miscarried or aborted.
This issue is not just political talk to me. I have two children I’m waiting to meet in heaven. My grief for these babies was intensely private, just like their lives were intensely private– my body was the only body they ever touched and the only world they ever knew. As much as I love them, I had no desire to have a public funeral for them and can only imagine the pain of being forced to do such a thing against my will.
When I initially saw reports that Mike Pence had pushed for such a thing, I had to dig deeper to understand why someone would want to force women into that uncomfortable position. Was this really about women being forced to face their failure (by choice or by chance) to carry life to term? As I read the actual language of the bill, instead of feeling disgust, I felt thankful. The words I read were not about forcing women to have funerals, but were about asking hospitals and healthcare facilities to offer dignity to women who have suffered the prenatal death of their children by honoring the bodies of those babies.
This is something I could only wish for when my first baby died.
My first child died because he implanted in my fallopian tube and there was no room for him to grow. His lifeless body had to be removed from my tube through a surgery that left me scarred both physically and emotionally. I asked the doctor who performed the surgery what was going to happen to the tissue they removed from my body. I was devastated to know my baby was thrown away with other medical waste.
Two years later and we had moved several states away, but were facing the same heartbreaking loss. This time we were in a Catholic hospital and the value they place on life meant they were willing to take the extra steps to treat whatever tissue they remove with love and care. Babies who die before taking their first breath are buried in a cemetery where parents can go visit a headstone marker set up for all the little ones who died too soon. As far as I know, this is not an extra expense parents have to pay (although I’m sure the money comes from somewhere), but is a matter of hospital policy and not something you have to try and push for or plan for.
As a candidate who has been unequivocally pro-life, I am not surprised that Mike Pence would want to support that kind of a policy– a policy that acknowledges the dignity of even the smallest life. This is not about forcing women to hold funerals, but allowing women (and forcing healthcare facilities) to treat their unborn children like CHILDREN and not like medical waste. This is a kindness to women who are grieving that they couldn’t protect their children. This gives some sense of choice and control back to women who feel so powerless to save their babies. If your child died in toddlerhood, no government agency would force you to hold a funeral, but they also wouldn’t be okay with you throwing their body out. This legislation was just a step to move that dignity we bestow on humans to our smallest human family members.
I can see how this law (which was never enacted) would have limited the ability to use these baby bodies for research because it prescribes a certain method of disposal. It was reported that it would also drastically increase costs for abortion providers who would now have to treat these bodies as human bodies. I can understand that there may be disagreement about that, but to characterize this law as forcing women to have funerals they don’t want is just factually untrue and doesn’t acknowledge that many women WANT to treat those lives as LIVES, but have to jump through hospital hoops to accomplish that or may not be allowed to at all because of hospital policy.
However you feel about the candidates involved in this election cycle, it’s so important to be willing to do the research into these claims before passing information along. If something sounds too weird to be true, maybe it’s time to do some digging. I know I went from horrified to supportive and all it took was a little research. Feel free to do your own research, too.
(For more information, check out this article on Snopes.)