By John Jalsevac
PARIS, France, February 8, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) - France's supreme court has ruled that parents of miscarried or stillborn children can register a name for the child, no matter what stage of development the child was at at the time of miscarriage or birth, reports the AFP.
Previous to this most recent ruling, parents in France were allowed to register a name for miscarried or stillborn children, but only after 22 weeks gestation, or if the child weighed over 1.1 pounds.
This new ruling gives parents the right to claim the body of their child, which, until this point, was incinerated by the hospital along with other waste tissues. It also allows the mothers of miscarried or stillborn children to claim maternity leave.
According to the AFP report, the ruling is triggering a storm over the issue of abortion in France, with pro-abortion activists arguing that the ruling gives pro-life activists a strongly emotional argument for the humanity of the child, by indicating that a fetus at any stage has a right to a name. "A fetus is only viable after 26 weeks," said Chantal Birman, deputy president of a pro-abortion group called ANCIC. "You have to take the timetable of pregnancy into account."
She said that the court decision, "will help a rollback [on abortion availability] that has been taking place in Europe for the last few months."
However, there is an increasing recognition in medical circles that miscarriage or stillbirth can be an extremely traumatic experience for mothers and fathers alike, who may have developed a profound emotional connection with their unborn child. "The mourning process can be long and lonely," says the Helping After Neonatal Death (HAND) website. "After the death of a baby, it generally takes twelve to twenty-four months simply to find your new base."
Many parents have found that the process of grieving is helped significantly by the giving of a name to their child. "Giving the baby a name and having the baby baptized or blessed, if such rituals are important to us, are ways for us to acknowledge the reality of the life that has come and gone so quickly," says HAND.