It isn't found in the mortuary industry or even in the church.
You are involved in a legal medical procedure that draws great opposition but you want to do what is the “right thing”. You are a medical doctor that performs abortions. You contacted a local mortuary for the proper disposition of the fetuses. You entered into a contract with the mortuary to have the remains cremated. And the contract said that no one was to know the source of the remains and the ashes were to be disposed by the mortuary.
Such is the situation in Boulder, Colorado. In 2001, Dr. Warren Hern entered into a contract to have transferred the remains of the abortions to Crist Mortuary for cremation. It seemed as though this was a perfect arrangement. Until it was made public earlier this year that Crist was taking the ashes and instead of disposing of them on site, transferred them to Sacred Heart of Mary Parish for a religious burial. This transfer was in violation of the arrangement made between Crist and Dr. Hern. NO religious ceremonies with the ashes.
Well, this action by the mortuary has brought the issue of abortion front and center on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. As if we needed something else to remind us of the annual remembrance.
Now I see some major issues with this situation. First and foremost, the mortuary has violated the terms of the agreement with the doctor. Now this could have been adjusted up front or even after the fact with a simple agreement. Have an agreement to transfer the ashes out of the area where they could be buried. Keep the location and the source private. But I do see the issue as being more than finding out which office the fetuses came from. Someone is bound to try to find out who is a patient of the clinic. Major privacy violation is about to happen. Now the doctor could have solved the problem by disposition in another form. I won’t go into the methods, this is a family column. I have to applaud the doctor for seeing to the appropriate disposition. There are plenty more abortion providers that wouldn’t think about this “problem” in the same way that Dr. Hern did. Maybe I am giving too much credit to Hern for this thoughtful disposition but I would rather err on that side than to think that he was destroying the evidence of his medical practice.
Second of all, the parish has received a great trust from the mortuary by receiving the ashes for proper burial that should have been kept secret. Why would they risk the fact that they could give a proper burial for the aborted children? They risked everything and gained nothing. For the children who were aborted over the past 4 years or so, they received a proper burial. No laws were broken. Spiritual respect was given for the dead. But now, because of someone trying to make a public statement, the aborted fetuses will be discarded in a way that may make even the strong ill.
Some of the women who heard about this action came forward to express their anger. Some had begun to work through the tragedy involved that brought them to a decision about abortion. Some had tried to put the event of a few years ago behind them. If it were me or my significant other, I could see the actions of making this entire episode public, a re-opening of an emotional wound. Some said they were upset that the church conducted a ceremony without their permission. Sorry, I don’t buy that. They chose to have an abortion and left the remains with the doctor.
Now, I am not a supporter of abortion. I’m disgusted at the idea of the need for and the procedure of abortion. But I believe that folks should be held to the stipulations of the contract. I don’t know if Dr. Hern was trying to rid himself of the disposal concern or if he felt that there should be a proper and appropriate burial for the aborted. To me, that is not the issue. The mortuary and the church blew it. Their trust is shot as they try to demonize the abortionist.
I don’t have to wonder who is the real criminal here.