Once again, I wonder who won WWII

I have this dim memory that murdering people and incinerating them in ovens was something the Bad Guys did in WWII.  But that’s probably just my bad memory because now I’m hearing that when we Good Guys do it it’s just being Green and promoting recycling and sustainability in Britain.

Monstrous.  It is a wonder and a mercy far beyond our desserts that God stays his hand.

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  • Mark S. (not for Shea)

    “It is a wonder and a mercy far beyond our desserts that God stays his hand.”
    But for how much longer?
    I’m certainly no prognosticator, but I do try to read the signs of the times as much as possible. Considering the current state of Western society, I keep watching the hills fhe barbarians who will replace us.
    And by the way, I mean “barbarians” in the highest complimentary sense. Given the choice between being a peasant in the dying days of decadent Rome and being a barbarian peasant, I’d prefer the barbarians.

    • It’s wise to stay alert, but you’re looking in the wrong place. The forces of de-civilization were smarter this time. They aren’t sending barbarians to the gates. They’re turning us into them.
      What’s wrong with the world?

      • MarylandBill

        I don’t think you are being fair to the barbarians. Yeah, those barbarians had a rough century or two following the fall of Rome, but they went on to found one of the great civilizations of the world.

        • Mark S. (not for Shea)

          Agreed. The barbarians purged Rome and saved a lot of what was great about it. Took them a while to catch on, but once they did, they did so with gusto.
          And I certainly don’t think the barbarians are the source of our society’s problem. It is the very bastions of our “civilization” that are crumbling. We’re doing what civilizations have always done: Tossing out all the values that made us great in favor of unrestricted self-indulgence. Whether you’re talking about ancient Israel, the Roman Empire, the Persian Empire, or whatever … the sad story always ends the same.
          We rightly criticize many Islamic cultures because of their repression of women, liberty, and their tendency to violence. But which culture is consistently killing millions of their own innocents each year? It’s ours, not theirs.
          The sins that cry out to heaven for judgment are firmly entrenched in the West.

  • Jem

    And today in ‘Drawing the Wrong Conclusion From Hysterically Biased Headlines And Not Reading the Article’ …

    This was appalling. It was against the recommended practice – here: http://www.rcn.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0020/78500/001248.pdf – and the moment it was discovered, the practice was stopped by hospital administrators, and explicitly stopped by direct order from a government minister. It caused outrage.

    No doubt it was all down to atheists and socialized medicine, Stalin and so on. Barbarians at the gate! The NHS is evil! This would never happen here! This is why the government shouldn’t be allowed anywhere need anything. Frogmarch! Gunpoint! Etc etc.

    So what happens in the US? Depends on the state, but in most, if the pregnancy was before 20 weeks, the remains are treated like medical waste:


    The ‘Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center’ mentioned in that article isn’t run by communists, it’s run by … well, I’ll let you work that one out.

    • MarylandBill

      The question here is who missed the point? This is not about socialized medicine, this could just as easily have happened at an abortion clinic in the United States (in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if it had). Mark is not talking about the governments here, but the cultures as a whole.

      Certainly Father Longenecker’s point was to wonder why we object to this if we are not objecting to abortion in the first place. Indeed, I have the same question. And I think the same answer. Our moral intuition is repelled by the idea because it forces us, if only for the briefest moment, to recognize the horror of abortion for what it really is.

      • Jem

        “Certainly Father Longenecker’s point was to wonder why we object to this if we are not objecting to abortion in the first place.”

        His point was to go ‘Abortion! NAZIS!’. The rest of the argument, if that’s what it’s intended as, portrays a level of historical ignorance and lazy, unresearched double standard.

        First of all, many of the fetal remains were from miscarriages, not abortion. Here are the 2009 ethical guidelines for Catholic hospitals. I invite you to find where it talks about what to do with fetal remains.



        Because, as the US article I linked to explains, it’s only in the last few years that some parents have started treating the remains from an early miscarriage as a person to be buried. Only some Catholic dioceses have issued guidance. Most follow state guidelines, and incinerate very early fetal remains as medical waste.

        It is an area where attitudes have clearly changed, and policy has lagged behind. The UK policy, as it happens, is more respectful than the one operating at US institutions, and what happened was a breach of guidelines.

        Is there a double standard in allowing abortion, then showing respect for the remains? The UK guidelines eloquently explain why not. They do so right at the beginning, too.

        • silicasandra

          I’m curious, Jem. What do you think women did when they miscarried before medical waste incinerators existed? After all, it’s only a tiny portion of human history that (some) women (in some parts of the world) receive obstetric care from physicians at all.

          • Jem

            A very odd question, and I don’t really understand the point you’re trying to make.

            Read the links I posted.

            Until very recently, in the UK and the US, the remains from a very early miscarriage (or abortion) were routinely incinerated as general medical waste. No one, parents, doctors, nurses politicians, religious figures, seems to have objected to this.

            The UK changed its policy. The issue of fetal remains has been sensitive in the UK since the Alder Hey scandal. The UK situation that sent Father Longenecker off on his Godwin-defying ill-informed and breathtakingly hypocritical rant was a clear violation of the new rules, and has already been addressed. He didn’t mention that bit, perhaps because he was too busy googling pictures of gas chambers to whip up the home crowd than read to the end of the article.

            In the US, the law has not changed. Hospitals, including Catholic hospitals, routinely incinerate the remains as general medical waste. The issue is not covered by the overarching guidelines for Catholic hospitals. Some dioceses (like Baltimore) mass bury the remains with a service, unlike the UK they will not release them to parents.

            My reading of the Baltimore rules is that the fetus gets a Catholic burial regardless of the religion of its parents unless the parents ‘feel strongly’ and explicitly say so *before* the miscarriage.


            Miscarriages are extremely common. A lot of women who miscarry don’t realize that’s what’s happened, and often the first time they even knew they were pregnant is when they were told they’ve miscarried. We’re talking here about the very early stages of gestation.

            Most happen before six weeks. Only 5% of miscarriages occur after six weeks. Here are the statistics:


            Typically, before five weeks, the fetus is smaller than a pinhead. At the start of the sixth week, it’s about twice that. So that, typically, is the sort of ‘remains’ we’re talking about.

            The UK guidelines are to treat all human remains with dignity and to consult the parents. The US law is still to treat it as medical waste. Some Catholic dioceses will, without consulting the parents, keep the remains in a fridge for up to six months then mass bury it and perform a Catholic service.

            On the whole, the UK policy seems like the more compassionate one. That the problem was identified and instantly corrected – the same day – at ministerial level suggests that the system works.

            If you think the US system sounds better, then please say so.

            • silicasandra

              My point is that you say that it’s “new” that parents would want to bury the children they lose in pregnancy, and I contest that idea. I would say this reflects much more a different overall trend in pregnancy and childbirth – they were hypermedicalized in the 20th century, and now that is rolling back, and patients learn that they can, and should, in fact, have some say in what happens to them (and to their children.)

              I’ll admit to having extra sensitivity in this topic because I’m a mother myself. I’m familiar with fetal development as a layperson. The US “system” you describe is anything but. The women I have known who have gone through this tragedy have had a variety of things happen to them regarding whether or not they were permitted to bury their children and how that process worked.

              Simply put, I think parents should have the option to bury their dead if they can. I am objecting to the way you are describing this as some kind of new desire, as if it were a fad. That comes across as offensive to me.

              • Jem

                “I am objecting to the way you are describing this as some kind of new desire”

                I’m a mother, too. The pendulum swings, the world’s a big place, and I think people should deal with loss in whichever way suits them. My point is that in the UK and US, in living memory, the remains from early miscarriages were not considered something anyone would bury until *very* recently – recently enough that the 2009 guidelines for Catholic hospitals don’t cover the topic. The UK guidelines I linked to gave a timeline.

                ‘Fad’, I don’t know. And if it helps parents deal with loss, it’s good. But it is a new phenomenon, in the UK and the US.

                In the UK, I think the Alder Hey scandal brought the subject to public attention. I don’t think I’m making a wild leap by suggesting that in the US a climate where the Protestant evangelicals, Mormons and Catholic leadership ‘talk about these issues all the time’ has affected attitudes.

                The original article seems to think that disposing of the remains by incinerating them is a new development. No, it’s what has always happened (or always happened in the US and UK in modern times). Standard practice in the UK has changed. It hasn’t in the US.

    • Thank you for the link to this 2007 guidance. This is an instantiation of a normal bureaucratic cycle. There’s a realization that there is a problem (in this case in 1989), with guidelines developed to deal with it (1995, 2004, 2007), the whole set of rules is put up on the shelf and then knowledge of the guidelines and compliance decay until there is a crisis (2014) at which point the bureaucracy gets a kick and treats it seriously until people stop paying attention again. Lather, rinse, and repeat.

      There are socialist and capitalist variants of this cycle with the only significant difference between the two being that capitalism does not hand out legal immunities and economically, bureaucracies must have a certain minimal level of function to avoid bankruptcy and dissolution. This yields a few % of yearly efficiency gains over time and a more frequent set of heads on pikes ‘pour encoureger les autres’. This is cold comfort.

      • Jem

        “This is cold comfort.”

        Well, it’s an issue that affected a small proportion of cases in a small proportion of NHS Trusts (most reports say 10 out of the 244), and it was swiftly addressed. The problem was identified, rules were in place, a violation of the rules was able to be identified and it was corrected the same day.

        Father Longenecker’s rather crass spin on the story, which Mark echoed, of this being about a bunch of Nazis throwing babies on the fire to keep warm doesn’t match the story, either the big picture or in detail. And, as I say, it doesn’t acknowledge the first rule of these things, check to see whether your house is glass before throwing stones – Catholic institutions in the US, today, will be incinerating early stage fetal remains as medical waste, and they’ll be perfectly in tune with state law and longstanding practice when they do so.

    • John

      “…Catholic institutions in the US, today, will be incinerating early stage fetal remains as medical waste…”

      Jem, could you cite a paragraph from the provided link that verifies Catholic institutions are adopting this practice?

      • Jem

        They aren’t ‘adopting’ this practice. This is not a new thing. This is just what’s been done in *every* hospital for many decades, in the US and the UK. Father Longenecker’s painting an image straight from a medieval manuscript of babies being thrown on the fire to keep people warm. No, that’s not what these remains look like. As I’ve said further down this thread, most miscarriages happen before
        six weeks. At the start of the sixth week, the fetus is about the size
        of two pinheads. A woman who miscarries will typically also discharge a lot of things that absolutely no one would argue are medical waste.

        Catholic institutions are not performing abortions. And some – Baltimore, as linked, for example – have recently come up with rules. But the national guidelines – as linked – don’t mention the subject. Provena are cited in that ABC report as saying they ‘follow state law’. And that’s basically a euphemistic way of saying they incinerate remains as medical waste.

        The ABC report is a good one. It spells out the issue, which is that it’s only recently that a very small group of parents has emerged who see the remains from an early miscarriage as something to be given a funeral. Even the Baltimore guidelines don’t grant an individual funeral.

        The UK has changed its guidelines – what happened in the UK is a breach of those guidelines which was caught and corrected.

        Some states have changed their laws. The vast majority haven’t.


        “Since fetal remains are normally incinerated without ceremony” – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Los_Angeles_fetus_disposal_scandal





        • Jem

          Here’s a CDC summary of the current US guidelines by state – http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/misc/itop97.pdf – page nine is the relevant page.

          There have been Catholic guidelines saying ‘all human remains’ should be treated with respect (I found one set from 1949). The key issue here is that it’s not been typical to see the products of a very early miscarriage – the vast majority take place before four weeks and virtually all the others before six – as ‘human remains’. All the guidelines I’ve found talk about the ‘fetus’, not about embryos.

          Only the following places require even the *reporting* of the death of a fetus under 20 weeks following a miscarriage – American Samoa, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia,Hawaii,New York City,New York State, Northern Mariana Islands, Rhode Island,Virginia,Virgin Islands.

        • John

          I’ll rephrase.

          Could you cite a paragraph from the provided link that verifies Catholic institutions have been and/or are carrying out this practice?

          That’s all I’m asking for.

          • Jem

            I did.

            Can I find a link where a Catholic institution boasts of using the remains of miscarriages to generate heat for the hospital buildings? No, oddly enough, hospital websites don’t tend to dwell on the subject of what medical waste is made up of and what they do with it. The websites tend to show gleaming new buildings and people smiling, not the blood and the bins.

            And, as I say, the whole point is that, as the ABC report says, it’s only *recently*
            that a *small number* of parents have begun thinking of the remains of
            an early miscarriage as something to be treated with the reverence you would a late term stillborn. Most places, Catholic or
            not, do not have policies in place to accommodate this. The state laws are very clear, and don’t demands that fetal remains under 20 weeks are treated with any reverence. There is no
            national law or rule for Catholic institutions.

            When Provena says simply ‘we follow state law’, and the state law is that you can dispose of any fetal remains below twenty weeks as you would medical waste, what do you think that means they do? If they treated it differently, wouldn’t they say ‘no, while state law would allow us to dispose of it as medical waste, what we do is … ‘?

            Baltimore diocese do have a specific policy, as linked to. There are clearly Catholic institutions that have special policies in place. Hospital policies tend to be public. If a Catholic hospital lists a load of policies but nothing specific on this topic, it doesn’t mean they’ve got a secret policy that they’re just not telling people about.

            Looking at some of the policies, they’re a little vague. They say they ‘distinguish’ fetal remains. Well, the disposal of medical waste is regulated by the Medical Waste Tracking Act of 1988. It requires hospitals to segregate different types of things that are being disposed of. I think all they’re saying is that, as per the law, they carefully label and track what they’re disposing of. That would be the same as any hospital.

            If you feel that I haven’t proven a case, that we shouldn’t be cynical when it comes to how Catholic institutions are run, and that the absence of a public policy doesn’t mean they don’t have a wonderful secret policy that’s everything you could ask for, that is your right.

            Contact your local hospital, ask what their policy for disposing of the remains following a miscarriage at four weeks is, and when the policy was established. Some clearly have policies in place, some clearly don’t.

            • John

              I rephrased my question for the sake of argument. Now, from your most recent reply, you said,

              “When Provena says simply ‘we follow state law’, and the state law is that you can dispose of any fetal remains below twenty weeks as you would medical waste, what do you think that means they do? If they treated it differently, wouldn’t they say ‘no, while state law would allow us to dispose of it as medical waste, what we do is … ‘?”

              Except Provena did not say SIMPLY ‘we follow state law’. From the article:

              ‘Provena spokeswoman Lisa Lagger says it cannot discuss details of the case because of patient confidentiality issues, but adds the facility abided by state law and Roman Catholic canon when dealing with the remains. Catholic rules give fetal tissue status, Lagger says, but do not give the same accord to surrounding membranes, which could be discarded as medical waste.’

              So, Provena is following other rules as well, and not state law strictly speaking. How is this relevant in the case of the woman (McGregor) mentioned in the article? As stated in the preceding paragraph:

              ‘McGregor might have lost the fetal tissue at home, leaving only membranous tissue needing to be evacuated during the hospital procedure.’

              So, I’ll kindly ask you again: could you cite a paragraph from the provided link that verifies Catholic institutions have been and/or are carrying out the practice of incinerating early stage fetal remains as medical waste? You have yet to provide such a paragraph, and the Provena example from the article does not fit this claim, either.

              • Jem

                The giveaway word in that is ‘might’. We’re a little hobbled by the fact that this statement is covered by medical confidentiality and that there was a pending court case. But if we take it at face value, the hospital has no idea what happened to the fetus (if it was a normal ten week fetus it would be about a quarter of an inch long). Cecelia McGregor believes the fetus was incinerated, in accordance with standard practice. Her hospital, a Catholic institution, was unable to demonstrate otherwise. Just follow the logic of this: if there had been a Baltimore-style religious service, why wouldn’t there (a) be a record of that and (b) wouldn’t they have told McGregor that in the first place? If they had sifted through the remains but hadn’t found a fetus, why wouldn’t they tell her that’s what they did? Why, when she researched the hospital, did she come to the conclusion they treat them as medical waste?


                If they have a Baltimore-style system for burying fetuses in place but in this case that system broke down, why was she told by a hospital official it was incinerated and that “hospital made it sound like burials were uncommon. They acted like it was a grotesque question.”?


                ‘Canon law’, as noted, has nothing to say on the subject. ‘We follow canon law’ here means ‘there’s nothing in canon law to say we did anything wrong’, that’s all.

                As I say, if you think I’m being cynical, that is your right. I’m not sure how you can derive any sense that the hospital routinely buried fetuses. They say they ‘followed the law’. Well, the state law would be that it was incinerated, canon law is silent on the issue.

                It is your right to trust the institution, and to see their statements as reassuring and to assume that a Catholic institution would never do anything to harm a child. I read that and, like the mother in the case, see them as weasel words.

                • John

                  “‘Canon law’, as noted, has nothing to say on the subject.” ‘We follow canon law’ here means ‘there’s nothing in canon law to say we did anything wrong’, that’s all.”

                  And how is that so, when the Provena spokesperson from the article referred to Roman Catholic canon in her explanation of how the hospital goes about the handing of a fetus? Again:

                  ‘Provena spokeswoman Lisa Lagger says it cannot discuss details of the case because of patient confidentiality issues, but adds the facility abided by state law and Roman Catholic canon when dealing with the remains. Catholic rules give fetal tissue status, Lagger says, but do not give the same accord to surrounding membranes, which could be discarded as medical waste.’

                  As for the fetus, that is at heart of the matter. From the other links, McGregor claims that the hospital told her that they incinerated the fetus, but the hospital itself does not admit to this, and the spokewoman’s statement is quite clear about how the hospital views fetal tissue. They are NOT simply going by state rules. The spokewoman’s statement implies that if McGregor still had fetal tissue, it would not have been regarded as medical waste. I will also add that (from the linked ABC News article) that McGregor is not seeking to obtain the fetus, per se, but:

                  ‘Regardless, McGregor still thinks all of the remains should have been given to her.’

                  Where ‘all of the remains’ refers to 1. the fetal tissue, which I discussed above, AND 2. the membranous tissue, which the hospital regards as medical waste.

                  So, back to square one. You still have not showed that Catholic institutions have been and/or are incinerating early stage fetal remains as medical waste. If you want to be a cynic, that is your prerogative. However, that is different from backing up a claim with evidence.

                  • Jem

                    Again: She was told by a hospital official it was incinerated and that “hospital made it sound like burials were uncommon. They acted like it was a grotesque question.”

                    We know what Mrs McGregor was told, what she believes, and that she felt very strongly about it. And that’s the sum total of what we know about this case. You don’t find the hospital’s inability to account for the remains telling. You don’t find the ‘we follow the law’ statement cagey. You don’t find the absence of a special policy suspicious. You think their account of what ‘might’ have happened settles the matter.

                    The easiest way to answer this would have been for the hospital to say ‘perhaps a mistake was made here, but normally we accord fetal remains a burial’ and perhaps provide evidence of where they do that. Clearly, a hospital in Baltimore diocese could show you the fridge where the remains are kept, the mass grave they’re eventually tossed in and records of the services conducted that the parents aren’t told about.

                    I’m satisfied, personally, that there’s no evidence that most Catholic hospitals treat early fetal remains any differently from any other hospital. In the case of miscarriages before six weeks (most of them) we’re talking about ‘human remains’ that are barely visible to the naked eye. I doubt any hospitals are sifting through the cloths, wipes, swabs and other waste material looking for that. If they’re burying all the waste as a human being, that’s, frankly, rather distasteful and macabre.

                    I don’t think anything I can say will persuade you, though. Why should it?

                    If it concerns you, contact a few local hospitals and ask to see a copy of their policy and, crucially, what year it was introduced. Ask them specifically about what they would do in the case of a miscarriage at four weeks. Hospitals are bureaucracies, the disposal of medical waste is heavily regulated. They’ll have a policy written down. See how specific it is, or whether it’s just vague stuff about ‘following state law’ and ‘treating all human remains with due respect’.

                    Neither of us know for sure. You reflexively trust the institution. It’s probably fair to say that I’m inclined to think that if a Catholic institution is being secretive about something, it’s probably not because it’s doing everything in a wonderful way that’s above and beyond the call of duty, but doesn’t like to boast. If you find out anything, be sure to report back.

                    • Jem

                      It’s this: I see the lack of evidence that most Catholic hospitals operate any differently from other hospitals when it comes to the disposal of the remains from early miscarriages and conclude they don’t; you see the same lack of evidence and trust that they must be doing, just not telling anyone.
                      We’re both guessing.

                      Do Provena always treat human remains in a special, Catholic, dignified way?


                      Nope. There’s an example of them doing something awful for 10-15 years, and being forced to mend their ways when they were caught.

                      Provena use the company Stericycle, the company that incinerates aborted fetuses and, famously, Mitt Romney made a lot of money investing in:




                      “Stericycle has a company policy that we do not accept fetuses, per se,
                      and the hospital has to make its own determination on how to handle that
                      based on state law.”

                      It’s that ‘state law’ again. What Stericycle say is that they let the hospital make the determination as to what they hand over to incinerate; what Provena say is they follow state law, what state law says is that fetal remains under 20 weeks should be treated as medical waste, and what canon law says is ‘…’.

                      I’m satisfied. At the very least, I think the onus is on anyone who thinks Provena are giving the remains of early miscarriages Catholic burial ceremonies to give some indication as to why they think that, given that Provena first said they don’t, then revised that to not saying they do.

                      The ‘cycle’ in Stericycle, of course, stands for ‘recycle’. They’re generating energy from the incineration. Provena boast of their environment credentials when it comes to ‘waste management’ (and mention that they use Stericycle) here:


                      I await Father Longenecker’s nuanced response on how when Catholics incinerate dead babies to generate energy it doesn’t count as ‘monstrous’.

  • Jem

    Wow. It routinely happens in the US, too. The difference is that while it’s against the law in the UK (and Canada), it’s legal here. Who knew that or could possibly have guessed?


    The CEO is … a Villanova educated evangelical Christian who pals around with Rick Perry and Sarah Palin. Wow, shocking, a right wing hypocrite.