Who would disagree that the right to a proper burial is widely accepted and even taken for granted, considering that there are over two million funerals each year in the United States alone? Yet there is disagreement regarding the age at which a burial may be allowed.
Until now, stillborn children under 20 weeks could be considered “medical waste” by Texas hospitals and disposed of as such, without allowing parents access to the body. Thanks to Joshua and Erica Raef of Amarillo Texas, a new law will take effect on September 1 permitting parents to properly bury their stillborn infants, regardless of the stage of development.
Thirteen weeks into pregnancy, the Raefs discovered that their unborn baby no longer had a heartbeat. The grief that automatically comes with such news was compounded by their discovery that, if Erica Raef delivered in a hospital, they could not have their baby’s body for burial. Though believing the hospital to be the safer route, the Raefs chose to deliver at home in order to have and bury their child, Liam, as they wished. Hours after the miscarriage, Erica began to hemorrhage and was rushed to the hospital to receive the necessary care.
Speaking to a Texas House Committee in April, Erica Raef said of the ordeal, “It was a very traumatic experience that I wouldn’t wish on anyone.” Yet the Raefs do not regret their decision of home delivery. “In the end, going through all that, it was still worth it to have our baby to bury,” Joshua Raef told lawmakers. Erica Raef further explained their position by stating, “This is ultimately why we are here today, to make sure this doesn’t happen anymore.”