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Funerals/fetus laws in hospitals

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Question
I was told that when a miscarriage occurs after 20 weeks in a hospital that a funeral is required by law. If true, is it a state law or a federal law? I was told it is required in Texas.

Thanks,
Dave

Answer
There is NO law in any state requiring a funeral regardless of where the death occurs or how old or young the person is. After 20 weeks, a fetal death report or fetal death certificate *is* required. On that you will have to fill in whether the child was buried or cremated. In TX and all but 8 states, the family may handle the death without hiring a funeral director. Alas, a lot of hospitals don't know this and have given families a hard time about releasing the body to the family. Threaten to sue them if they do that. Or let me put you in touch with a TX lawyer who can educate them.

Go to www.funeralethics.org/rights.htm to see state-specific funeral consumer rights. It prints out on legal-size paper.

P.S. Many FDs do not charge anything more than out-of-pocket expenses for infant deaths.

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Lisa Carlson

Expertise

Funeral Law. Having written a 512-page book on funeral law for consumers with state-by-state information, I am very conversant with consumer rights in this regard: What are the laws on disposition of cremated remains? Is embalming required? Do I have to use a funeral home? Can I have a home wake? Is it a state law to buy a vault? I prepaid for a funeral but changed my mind. They won`t give me all my money back. What can I do? . . . If you have an immediate need for information because a death has just occurred or is about to occur, you may call me at 802-482-6021.

Experience

I have monitored the funeral industry on behalf of consumers for over 20 years. I have been a guest speaker to funeral trade organizations, consumer workshops, and social service professionals. I am regularly consulted by lawyers and legislators as well as journalists.

Organizations
Funeral Ethics Organization (www.funeralethics.org) Funeral Consumers Alliance (www.funerals.org)

Publications
Caring for Your Own Dead (1987) Caring for the Dead: Your Final Act of Love (1998) I Died Laughing: Funeral Education with a Light Touch (2001) Final Rights: Reclaiming the American Way of Death (2011) with co-author Joshua Slocum

Education/Credentials
Masters degree in Administration and Special Education

Past/Present Clients
Available as an expert witness for funeral-related court cases.

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