Rep. Frank Ryan (R-Lebanon) is hopeful that his Fetal Remains Bill that recently passed the state House will gain acceptance in the Senate as well. House Bill 1890 was voted out of the House in November by a vote of 123-76 but continued to cause quite a stir as Ryan spent much of the time since answering a wave of misconception.
“An unbelievable amount of misconception,” Ryan told me on a recent visit to our office. “It’s the first time, I will tell you Al, that I have seen particularly irresponsible coverage by some of the sites. I don’t believe it was a controversial bill at all.”
Ryan sponsored the bill after undergoing a personal tragedy years ago with a child of his that didn’t survive past birth. He recounted his experience during an emotional committee hearing in November.
“It gives a parent who has lost a child through miscarriage or stillbirth the opportunity to bury the remains of the child and receive those remains at their own expense…As someone who has lost three children, wondering where the baby was buried was important to us and our family.”
The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference has supported the measure from the beginning.
Ryan said the feedback that he has gotten from others who have lost children has been very positive.
“I’ve had a lot of calls from people who have wondered what happened with their baby.”
Ryan said the misconceptions followed a piece that a pro-abortion group had put out, that was then picked up by a website that failed to get Ryan’s side of the story. Ryan credits the Harrisburg-area TV stations with actually getting his side of the story and clearing up the original misrepresentations.
“The group’s report was taken as gospel without reading the three-page bill. Literally this bill doesn’t take more than five minutes to read, even if you’re doing so slowly.”
Abortion groups have attacked the measure but proponents of the bill say it has nothing to do with abortion. Every Republican in the House voted for it, as did many Democrats.
“I was very disappointed that it created such controversy. There was a lot of misinformation,” said the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, Eric Failing. “This bill simply says that if the mother (who has lost a child before birth) wants the remains…they can request to have those remains. They will have to pay extra but they can have those remains.”
Failing said if the mother chooses to do otherwise, she will have no more responsibility. It would then be up to the health care facility to handle the remains through burial or cremation.
“It’s a very simple bill,” Failing continued. “It has nothing to do with restricting abortion or anything like that. But we believe that life is from conception to natural death and those are the remains of life.”