ACLU-PA Position: Opposes
HB 118 (PN 86) would require a hospital or clinic to arrange for the burial or cremation of all medical tissue — at any gestational age — following a spontaneous or induced termination of a pregnancy, such as miscarriage, abortion, or in vitro embryo reduction, that occurs within a healthcare facility. A healthcare facility that violates this act will be fined between $50 and $300 or a person charged with fulfilling these duties may be imprisoned in county jail for up to thirty days.
HB 118 is:
- Unneccessary: Under current law, there is nothing that prevents a woman from arranging a burial or cremation for a miscarriage or abortion before 16 weeks gestation. Rather than leaving that decision to women, HB 118 would require the ritual disposition of all products of conception following a miscarriage or abortion at a healthcare facility, regardless of gestational age.
- Dangerously expansive: HB 118 expands the definition of “fetal death” to include all medical tissue from the moment of conception — not just fetal tissue, but also embryonic tissue and tissue containing a blastocyst or fertilized ovum, including those that were never implanted. As a result, it creates a new statutory definition that impacts the legal definition of “fetus” or “person,” a pernicious but common tactic used to undermine women’s constitutional right to abortion.
- Invasive: By triggering the requirement to issue fetal death certificates for all products of conception, HB 118 compromises patient privacy by effectively creating a state-run database of miscarriages and abortion.
- Burdensome: If a woman wants to make disposition arrangements different from those provided by the facility, she will be responsible for the costs associated with opting out of this legal requirement.
Legislation like HB 118 creates difficult, vague, conflicting, and sometimes impossible, new regulations for clinics to comply with — all of which are ultimately intended to block women’s access to abortion.