While miscarriage is something traumatic for most women, one Pennsylvania lawmaker is in hot water for making some insensitive comments about it. Wendy Ullman, a Democratic Pennsylvania state representative, was debating the issue of fetal burial on the House floor; House Bill 1890 would require that abortion facilities or health care clinics to either bury or cremate fetal remains, as opposed to throwing them in the trash with medical waste. Ullman opposes this bill, yet her argument against it came across as very callous.
“It [the bill] refers to the product of conception after fertilization, which covers an awful lot of territory,” Ullman said during a House Health Committee meeting. “I think we all understand the concept of the loss of a fetus, but we’re also talking about a woman who comes into a facility and is having cramps and — not to be, not to be, concrete — an early miscarriage is just some mess on a napkin. And I’m not sure people would agree that this is something that we want to take to the point of ritual either cremation or internment.”
Unsurprisingly, many were horrified by Ullman’s remarks, and wasted no time responding.
I had three miscarriages at 7 weeks. It’s days of pain, blood and years of mourning. Only my faith helped me hope in our reunion in Heaven https://t.co/bJ3l5QY0eP
— Leticia Velasquez (@CauseofourJoy) November 2, 2019
I wish I wouldn’t have read this article. As a woman who has suffered a miscarriage, it was never, to me, “a mess on a napkin” as this woman said. It was the loss of life and what could have been. What kind of person says something like this? https://t.co/8nm5u6T69n
— Stephanie Graybeal (@1virtualgenie) November 1, 2019
My "mess on a napkin", maam, at 9ish weeks was intact en caul. I held that beautiful child in my hands and my heart. After genetic testing, which I assure you isn't provided for a "mes on a napkin", I would have cherished the opportunity to bury my child. https://t.co/nn2u56Z68J
— Truth Seeker (@TruthAgape) October 31, 2019
Heartbreaking. I had a miscarriage 35 years ago and I still wonder what that child could have become and what moments we lost.
— Rhonda (@Rhonda93840695) October 31, 2019
I don't think God agrees with her in any way. I don't. My miscarriages were heartbreaking. They were my children.
— Karen messinger (@messinger_karen) October 31, 2019
That "mess on a napkin" was my child, @RepUllman. That "mess on a napkin" would be 29 years old. Perhaps you might choose your words more carefully the next time. I, and others like me, grieve our children whether you understand that or not. https://t.co/ncaq53U4u2
— Tammie W. (@tammieweather) October 31, 2019
In a response on Twitter, Ullman apologized for her cruel remarks, saying she “chose her words poorly.” She tweeted:
Many women and families find tremendous comfort and solace in ritual burial or cremation in the case of early miscarriages, but others do not. Some would choose donation for medical research, like my family friend, who I quoted in a committee meeting, saying, ‘So my loss can have meaning.’ In the discussion, which was on a bill that would require ritual burial or cremation following any miscarriage, I was in near-tears relaying a story of my family friend. This issue is intensely important to me, and that’s why I struggled for words. My words were poorly chosen, and I apologize. I remain steadfast that every single step of a medical process, including the handling of remains, should be decided by a patient and her doctor.
As it is, there is already a horrible stigma surrounding miscarriage; many women feel ashamed and blame themselves, and worse, their pain is often minimized by others. Most miscarriages take place during the first trimester, for example — and women are told their babies are, at this point, just tissue or blobs, not babies to be mourned and grieved.
Many women have spoken out about how misinformed they are about what the process will be like; they are told it will be like a “heavy period,” as if they will just bleed a little and flush it all away. And much of this dehumanizing language is due to the abortion industry, which is masterful at semantics and wordplay. Instead of a preborn baby, for example, it is always a “fetus,” or the highly unscientific “blob of tissue” or even “product of conception.” But what people like Ullman seem to miss is that these are human beings, unmistakably so, even in the first trimester.
Ullman may not know or understand why bills like this one are necessary, but they are; abortion facilities cannot be trusted to dispose of fetal remains in a respectful, dignified manner. As undercover footage showed, abortion facility staffers in Detroit were putting the bodies of aborted children through garbage disposals, which then went into the Detroit sewer system. Other staffers and abortionists talked about being kicked out of funeral homes because their attitudes were so callous and disrespectful.
The body of a human being is not garbage to be thrown away, regardless of how small that person may have been. And for Ullman to further contribute to the stigma surrounding miscarriage by dismissing the very real pain women suffer, to describe it nothing more than mess on a napkin, solely in the name of protecting abortion, is unconscionable. Every mother who has ever suffered a miscarriage deserves better than that — and so do the children they have lost.
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