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Germany gives rights to tiny babies who die

The Local · 9 May 2012, 16:41

Published: 09 May 2012 16:41 GMT+02:00

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Until now, dead babies weighing less than 500 grams were not recognised by German authorities as having a legal identity – they could not be included on the civic register and were often thus not released or accepted for burial.

As many German states require a person to be on the civic register before they can be buried, hospitals have often refused to give the body of an unregistered stillborn baby, or premature baby that died after being born, to the parents.

While some cemeteries buried them anonymously in an area for “Sternenkinder”, or “star babies”, German law said that deceased babies below 500 grams should be “disposed hygienically and taking moral sensibilities into account.”

The cabinet changed this law on Wednesday after parents whose twins were stillborn – one heavy enough to be registered and buried, the other not – petitioned parliament and the Family Minister Kristina Schröder.

Now parents of very small babies who die or are stillborn will have the option to legally name, and bury, their child, no matter how many grams it weighed when born.

The topic was raised in the Bundestag after the couple who were allowed to register one of their dead twins but not the other, gathered 40,000 signatures calling for a change in the law, the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper said on Wednesday.

Story continues below…

DAPD/The Local/jcw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

17:45 May 9, 2012 by marimay
About time you barbaric religious nutjobs.

They should get into more detail on that law, its creepier than they made it out to be.
17:54 May 9, 2012 by Lisa Rusbridge
Good Lord, I don't even know how to respond to this. I can possibly, just maybe understand a third world nation not being able to bury an infant of that size, because of practical reason. But even then I believe a small grave would be made with a humble marker. People need rituals of death and saying goodbye. To think a first world nation such as Germany still has laws that are more of bureaucratic red tape and imposing "moral sensibilities" on grieving parents leaves me without words. The sad and cold part is that the government ignored the human element of the people when this decision was codified into law.

I am glad that the parents of the twins who were stillborn and even though they were grieving made a difference so that in the future parents who are in this same sad situation will not have to go through having and knowing that their deceased child was disposed of with hospital hazardous waste. These parents brought the people back to the center of the law in this case, which is where it should always have been the entire time.
20:56 May 9, 2012 by farmy
If you make it to heaven, You will meet all of these micro babies. God knew them before they were formed in the womb. Germany has just become more civilized.
22:22 May 9, 2012 by reallybigdog
You think that's bad in England they sometimes just leave the fetus in a box until they can be disposed of via cremation.

Quote"Two English hospital porters have been suspended amid allegations that a dead baby was left in a box in the building's basement instead of being taken to the mortuary." This is by the way the second insistent at New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton.
09:13 May 10, 2012 by freechoice
this is definitely much more advanced than in some societies where they discard their aborted babies in rubbish dumps, which were later discovered by passerby's and shocked the world.
12:25 May 10, 2012 by TheWonderer
You need to differentiate:

When it was somewhere during pregnancy, it was not necessary a "complete" human-being yet (that could be recognised as such), so in those days it was treated like medical waste.

Had it been "born" dead, but was recognizable as a human-being, many parishes did not bury it on it's own in his own grave, but those children (for centuries) were added to an adult going to be buried, the reason behind this habit being that you do not let a child go unattended but have it accompanied by an adult.

Snag was: Neither the baby's parents nor the relatives of the adult were told, it was just practised.

And this having been practised for such a long time (centuries!) makes it not barbaric but a caring tradition not putting in consideration the parents' feeling but focussing on God.

Just these days (with more people not believing any more) but more concerned about civil rights and so on (which is not bad at all!) things have changed.

I did like the thought that a little one is not left alone but being cared for by an older companion when starting the voyage...

The Wonderer
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