ASK THE ADVOCATE: Disposal of human fetuses

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What is the procedure in Louisiana for the disposal of human fetuses that have been removed due to miscarriages, abortions and other health issues?

According to Louisiana law concerning abortions, Louisiana Administrative Code (“LAC”) Title 48, Part I, Chapter 44, Section 4413(E) provides that “products of conception shall be disposed in compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Environmental Protection Agency and other state and local standards covering the treatment of medical waste.”

The term “Products of Conception” is defined in 48 LAC Part I, Section 4401 as placenta, amniotic sac or membrane, embryo, or fetal elements that result from a human pregnancy.

The “and other state and local standards covering the treatment of medical waste” language is a reference to 51 LAC Part XXVII. To the extent that OSHA and EPA regulations govern, the (state) Department of Health and Hospitals plays no role in their enforcement.

Concerning “miscarriages … and other health issues,” 51 LAC Part XXVII Chapter 11, Section 1101(A)(7) provides that “treatment and disposition of human bodies, gross anatomical parts and fetal remains shall be by burial, cremation, or other means specifically authorized in law or regulation. Extracted human teeth may be disposed of by these means, or as sharps.”

Both LAC Title 48 and LAC Title 51 are promulgated and enforced by DHH, and both titles may be viewed at the following link: http://www.doa.louisiana.gov/osr/lac/books.htm.

Send questions to Ask The Advocate, P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821-0588; or fax to Ask The Advocate, (225) 388-0297; or email asktheadvocate@theadvocate.com.