Dear CFJ supporter,
The case of the Voice of the Unborn Baby was heard by the Constitutional Court on 4 November 2021. Cause for Justice participated in the proceedings as a friend-of-the-court party. Since then all parties have been waiting in anticipation to hear if the court is going to grant bereaved parents the right to bury their baby if such died before 26 weeks in the womb.
Last week Wednesday, 15 June 2022, the Constitutional Court handed down its judgment. The Court's key findings are that:
- The Births and Deaths Registration Act (BADRA) only regulates the burial of “dead human bodies”.
- In the Court’s opinion, the remains of a baby that died during the first 26 weeks in the womb, is not a dead human body.
- Therefore, the burial rules in BADRA do not apply to the remains of babies that die before 26 weeks of existence in the womb (pre-viable babies). Accordingly, non-compliance with the burial requirements in BADRA does not result in the prohibition of the burial of the remains of pre-viable babies.
Even though the law might not explicitly prohibit the burial of babies that died before 26 weeks in the womb, the reality up until now has been that hospitals practically interpret the laws as such. The judgment leaves parents with no certainty or clear right to rely on if they want to bury their prematurely deceased child. If a hospital denies parents the bodily remains of their baby, they would have to somehow persuade or financially remunerate or litigate against the hospital to prevent their baby’s remains from being incinerated as medical waste and to obtain the baby’s remains to conduct a burial of their choosing.
Read a more in-depth discussion of the judgemnt in our most recent Press Release.