The latest ‘scandal’ to appall the anti-choicers is the discovery that aborted babies were incinerated to heat UK hospitals. It’s actually just more sensationalism from the Telegraph.
Ten NHS trusts have admitted burning foetal remains alongside other rubbish while two others used the bodies in ‘waste-to-energy’ plants which generate power for heat.
Last night the Department of Health issued an instant ban on the practice which health minister Dr Dan Poulter branded ‘totally unacceptable.’
At least 15,500 foetal remains were incinerated by 27 NHS trusts over the last two years alone, Channel 4’s Dispatches discovered.
The programme, which will air tonight, found that parents who lose children in early pregnancy were often treated without compassion and were not consulted about what they wanted to happen to the remains.
One of the country’s leading hospitals, Addenbrooke’s in Cambridge, incinerated 797 babies below 13 weeks gestation at their own ‘waste to energy’ plant. The mothers were told the remains had been ‘cremated.’
Another ‘waste to energy’ facility at Ipswich Hospital, operated by a private contractor, incinerated 1,101 foetal remains between 2011 and 2013.
Do the math. I calculate that, on average, that means each of those hospitals incinerated about 24 wads of bloody debris from a specific surgical procedure per month. I think we’ve just solved the energy crisis forever if setting a few grams of dead baby (how much do they think a first trimester fetus weighs, anyway?*) on fire every day or two is enough to make a significant dent in the hospital’s heating bill. Ask yourself, though — do you think crematoria are net energy producers, or net energy sinks?
Also, that wet, gooey scrap of tissue is not going to be a profitable energy source. Burning the mass of disposable pads and absorbent gauze and assorted paper waste associated with the procedure is a plus, but dead fetuses? Nope. This is a standard, significant cost for medical facilities and also universities — biological waste must be disposed of, but it’s nasty stuff that has to be disposed of properly. No one wants piles of blood-soaked laundry rotting in their landfill. It is standard procedure to use incinerators — specific incinerators rated to efficiently destroy hazardous and infectious materials.
Apparently, some of the incinerators in the UK are efficiently designed to use a high heat adequate for destroying biological waste, and some of that heat is used to also heat the place. That sounds sensible to me.
I’m not in the least disturbed by the fact that patients were not consulted on how their dead fetus was disposed. When you go in for an operation, are you concerned about what is done with the bloody towels afterwards, or how your appendix or tonsils or excised cyst are treated? Did you think there was some special room deep in the bowels of the institution where they were reverently interred, attended by a weeping chaplain who said a few kind words over your precious bodily fluids? Nope. They’re sealed up in a bag, dealt with according to appropriate protocols for medical waste, and incinerated.
Get over it.
*About 15 grams, or half an ounce…of the most energy-dense substance in the world, apparently.